If you've read the news over the past three or so days, you can't help but hear all about Senator Barack Obama's presence in Europe after visiting the Middle East. Many are applauding the Senator's trip and his openness with our European allies, many saying this is the kind of fence mending we need after Iraq.
I have another take; Barack Obama's visit amounts to campaigning (grand-standing for some), is of poor judgement and will have lasting negative consequences. Once again, a politician has put his own thirst for power before what is good for America and Europe.
Before I lay it out, let me say there is a marked difference between visting a foreign country on a campaign trail, to get to know the people/issues, and campaigning. The two are wholly different. Barack Obama's campaign has made a concerted effort to make this a high profile visit with speeches all along the way, this is campaigning. Had Obama gone to Germany to chat with Chancellor Angela Merckel, talk about NATO, foreign trade, etc... he would have won more respect but of course garnered less media attention.
Bad for Europe
In the Berlin speech, Obama worked his charisma and asked Germans to join with Americans on a series of issues. He opened by saying he was there to speak as a global citizen, not as a President (which is good since he hasn't been elected, although that is news to some).
The massive Berlin crowd showered Obama with applause, an obvious sign of approval. But what does that approval mean? Has Europe just been given legitimacy, or the perception of legitimacy, in the American political process? Obama spoke as a global citizen, the crowd was full of global citizens offering their collective global approval.
But Obama isn't running for President of the World, he is running for President of the United States of America.
Last time I checked, we didn't ask the citizens of any foreign country for approval on our Presidential candidates? Obama's visit creates the perception that we are indeed very interested in that approval.
If European (perceived) approval is now a pre-requisite for taking office, what will happen if the American people choose the other guy? Will Europeans respect our democratic process and our democratic choice for President? How will that impact our relations with Europe?
If we have a 2000 election scenario, would any of these countries to take a side with "their guy?" Will they acknowledge the lawfully elected President?
If we have a 2004 election scenario, can we expect any of these countries to file a complaint with the International Court to review our electoral college when it robs "their guy" of victory?
The entire world has a vested interest in who the next President of the United States will be, but they have zero right to any representation in our political process.
Obama's outright pandering to crowds in Europe has given Europeans the false perception that they have influence over our election process. Should that influence be tested, our relationship with our European allies will be significantly harmed.
Bad for America
The Presidential election is a special time for the country--one of the few times we get to come together are really decide an issue on a national level.
It is our time to be selfish.
For many, they will take that to personal level and vote for the candidate offering the most entitlements or other goodies. Some still believe in picking the candidate best qualified for the job.
While there are many in America who care more about how the world views us than the issues we face, most Americans will be nearsighted in their decision; and they should be!
Disregarding domestic issues, or what's in the best interest of the county on foreign issues, to win/maintain popular world opinion would be a crime against the American people. A President's first duty is to his country, his people, and the Constitution (and I'm not sure it's in that order).
When the media sells us this European endorsement of Barack Obama, and we buy into it, allowing this to weigh into our decision making process, we give up a bit of our sovereignty.
There are just too many issues facing this country to allow foreign opinion to further muddy the waters.
If Barack Obama wants to run for the office of Supreme Ruler of the World then he should continue the global politicking. But if Obama wants to be President of the United States, then he should have stayed at home and only offered his time, voice, and consideration to Americans.