After a boffo start in India, largely because Obama promised them something he won't be able to deliver on - a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council - and a great big "welcome home" hug in Indonesia, things went sour in a hurry.
According to the Associated Press:
"Obama failed to achieve a free-trade deal with Korea that was to have been the biggest trophy of his trip, and instead of banding with America against China's currency manipulation, several countries aligned themselves against the U.S."
Let's take that free trade business first. When a President meets with another head of state to sign an agreement on whatever, the general rule is the staffs hammer out agreements on all the major issues, then leave one thing - should this be a comma or a semicolon - to the principals so they can pretend they had a hand in it.
But, Obama went to South Korea without an agreement on cars and beef imports, found that he couldn't charm his way into a deal, and so had slink away from the negotiating table having promised a Free Trade Agreement which would have added 70,000 U.S. jobs.
The only other time in my memory that a President went to sign a deal and left without making one was President Ronald Reagan's trip to Reykjavik, Iceland in 1986 to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, but it was well known that there was no pre-agreement before they met in Iceland.
But the failed deal in Seoul was not to eliminate nuclear arsenals among the superpowers - but to be able to import and export SUVs and cows.
The President's bad week wasn't over yet. He had hoped to charm the members of the G-20 meeting -
- into wagging their diplomatic fingers in the face of the Chinese who have been systematically tinkering with the value of their currency - the Yuan - to make its exports cheaper against the Euro and the USD.
Unfortunately for Obama, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had just announced the U.S. central bank would inject into the U.S. economy $600 billion. The Germans huffed, ""What the U.S. accuses China of doing, the U.S.A. is doing by different means."
Bernanke said, in effect, he is the central banker of the United States; not the central banker of the rest of the world and he would do what was in the best interests of the U.S.
The President's visit was in such disarray that when Air Force I landed in Alaska to refuel, he missed by one day the premiere of "Sarah Palin's Alaska."
How's this for a photo op: Obama and Palin sitting in rocking chairs on Palin's front porch, chatting, and keeping a close eye on Russia.