Rich Galen

The G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico is, thankfully, over.

During the proceedings we watched as President Barack Obama maneuvered himself into a position of being - if not totally inconsequential - certain a minor member of the chorus.

From Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush American Presidents have held the title "the most powerful man in the world." Sometimes it was altered to "the most powerful man in the western world" but, you know what I mean.

Barack Obama has not just allowed that label to lapse. He appears to have been happy to toss it aside.

This isn't about American exceptionalism. It's about Obaman ordinariness.

Obama is not First Among Equals at international meetings. At best he's fourth among equals between Russia, China, and Germany. If you include Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Obama is no better than fifth.

The Putin-Obama mini-summit in advance of the official meeting is a good case in point. CBS' Nora O'Donnell described the scene following the two-hour sit-down:

"In their remarks after the meeting the two men barely looked at each other; you could just feel the tension between them, and the body language demonstrated how far apart the two leaders remain on the issue of Syria.

"Apparently, President Obama got a bit of a lecture from Putin about some other failed transitions that are going on around the world.

"It's not clear how productive that meeting was."

The brilliant foreign policy analyst (and Mull-cousin) Michael Hirsh, writing about Obama in the National Journal, said the G-20 summit,

"… seemed to yield mainly defiance, and not just from unruly Russians like Vladimir Putin, who's doing his own thing in helping Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, but even from the Western Europeans."

I am not suggesting that an American President has to be the Bully of the World. What I am suggesting is that an American President - even this American President - commands the most powerful army in the world, oversees the largest economy in the world, and is the leader of the third-largest population in the world (behind China and India).

As we awake this morning, the world is far more interested in what Angela Merkle is thinking with regard to bailing out Spanish Banks, what Vladimir Putin is thinking with regard to bailing out Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, or what Chinese Premier Hu Jintao is thinking with regard to bailing out the IMF and World Bank.

If the 20th century was, as Harold Evans coined it in the title of his 1998 book, "The American Century" then the 21st Century may well be the Chinese Century.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.