BRAND OBAMA….When the curtain finally came down last week on Karen Hughes’ ill-fated effort to spruce up Brand America, Fred Kaplan decided to ask his readers to send in their advice for making America a little less disliked in the world. Virtually all of the feedback came either from foreigners or from Americans living abroad, and here was the #1 suggestion:

Several readers emphasize that many foreigners, even those with high levels of education, have no concept of American life. They don’t know that most Americans are religious people. They don’t know that most of us aren’t wildly rich. They’re skeptical of reports that many black people live here — or dismiss them as not “real Americans.”….And so the most prominent suggestion on how to improve America’s face in the world — a suggestion made by well over half of those who wrote me — is to send the world more American faces and to bring more of the world’s faces into America.

….An American exchange student in Jordan writes of the foreigners he’s met: “Once they see Americans — blacks, Jews, Asians, and ‘real’ Americans, as they call blonde-haired Caucasians — and hear their diverse opinions on issues from the War in Iraq to pop music, then people realize how much diversity there is in our country.”

This might be the single most compelling reason there is to vote for Barack Obama. All of the Democratic candidates would improve America’s substantive position in the world, but Obama goes a step further by being the only one who would improve our standing just by being who he is. Food for thought.

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