High expectations

HIGH EXPECTATIONS…. The Wall Street Journal‘s Bret Stephens apparently has such high expectations for Barack Obama, he seems terribly disappointed that the new president has not yet vanquished U.S. rivals around the world and solved the most serious international challenges.

Barack Obama has now been president for 21 days, following an inauguration that was supposed to have pressed the reset button on America’s relations with the wider world and ushered in a new period of global cooperation against common threats.

Stephens then spends the next 700 words reminding us that Iran still engages in belligerent posturing; NATO allies are still reluctant to send troops to Afghanistan; North Korea is still led by lunatics; Pakistan is still dangerous; and Russia still wants to exert influence in breakaway republics. Stephens even found an Egyptian novelist who wants to hear more from Obama about Gaza, which Stephens believes is evidence of skepticism of the new administration on “the Arab street.”

All of this leads Stephens to conclude that the president needs to do more to “inspire fear among the wicked.”

It occurs to me — and I’ll just throw this out there as a possibility — that maybe President Obama’s foreign policy vision needs more than three weeks to make a difference. Perhaps, before we write off the president’s ability to improve the nation’s international standing, we could give Obama a chance to unpack first.

Or, as Steve M. put it, maybe it’s not Obama’s supporters who have unrealistic expectations:

Stephens was expecting everything to be hearts and flowers already? Right-wingers clearly take the notion of Obama as “The One,” the magical wand-waving transformer of everything, a hell of a lot more seriously than do the people who are supposed to believe he’s “The One,” namely liberals and Democrats. We know the changes he’s trying to make are going to take time. We know his overtures are frequently going to be rebuffed. (Kim Jong-Il obviously isn’t going to come around faster than John Boehner.) Come on, Bret — three weeks?

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation