He's the "King of the World!!" No, not Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. It's President Obama, who's on the World Tour '09. He's pretty comfortable going hither and yon, but maybe a bit too comfortable.
How long before he pays a political price for all this jet-setting?
In less than six months, Obama has visited Canada, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago (Summit of the Americas), Great Britain (G-20 Summit), France & Germany (NATO Summit), Czech Republic (European Union Summit), Turkey, Iraq, and last week, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Germany (again) and France (again, where, in Paris, Obama had his second consecutive weekend "date-night" with Michelle and a shopping trip with his daughters).
Now,all this time, the American public still doesn't hold him responsible for mounting jobless numbers, even as the unemployment rate hit 9.4 percent in May. Clearly, blame is still left at the feet of the previous Bush administration and Republicans in general. And, it's understandable why that would be the case. After all, the economic collapse occurred on Bush's watch and the recession began in Bush's last year.
Still, given the full-court press that the Obama team has put into reminding people about the stimulus package, there's every indication that they are getting a bit nervous that time is running out on them avoiding blame for an economy that is still languishing.
Here's a bit of unsolicited advice as they work on that: Look homeward, Mr. President.
True, Obama -- and much of the Democratic presidential primary field -- ran in 2008 on reconnecting the United States with the rest of the world. The Democrat's critique of the Bush administration foreign policy wasn't solely over the war in Iraq, but much broader than that. Thus, that necessitates a certain amount of face to-face meetings for the president with foreign leaders .
But what happened to "it's the economy, stupid!?" The stimulus package has been the administration's primary -- sole -- economic policy plan. The remainder of the domestic policy focus has been on steering the auto companies into bankruptcy (which has entailed the Federal government becoming GM's biggest shareholder) and -- starting this coming week -- pushing full bore with his huge health-care plan (in the face of increasing criticism over mounting current accounts deficits and rising debt).
Note how Republicans are beginning to link Obama's globetrotting with domestic issues: Sunday, Charles Grassley (who can never be confused with a fire-breathing arch-conservative), declared on Twitter: "Pres Obama while u sightseeing in Paris u said 'time to deliver on health-care' When you are a 'hammer' u think everything is NAIL. I'm no NAIL."
Some of these foreign trips were essential, obviously: The president had to attend the G-20, NATO and D-Day ceremonies in France. But, given that these "must-do" trips exist, Obama should be more judicious on the optional ones. And he might want to avoid incidents where the trips seem more "about him" than about the country or region he's visiting -- like saying of an ancient Egyptian carving, "It's me" (due to its large ears). Yes, it was supposed to be self-effacing humor, but it came across as a little bit vain.
Time to cool the frequent flier miles, Mr. President?
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.