I felt sure you would want to know this as soon as possible.
President Obama spoke today to a “town hall” gathering at the White House for fellows of his Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), which you probably didn’t know about. YSEALI shepherds young Asians from ASEAN countries — people from 18 to 25 years old — through a study and workshop program. There are 70-some fellows in the current group, with 500 total to cycle through in this, the inaugural year of the initiative.
The White House tweeted notification of the event this morning.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 1, 2015
There were a couple of other random tweets commemorating POTUS’s thoughts during the town hall.
But it took the alert staff at Breitbart to highlight the encouraging news from the president’s town hall comments. America, it seems, is back. (Spelling in the transcript, apparently typed in haste, is corrected for readability here.)
Obama said, “People don’t remember, but when I came into office, the United States in world opinion ranked below China and just barely above Russia, and today once again, the United States is the most respected country on earth. Part of that I think is because of the work we did to reengage the world and say we want to work with you as partners with mutual interests and mutual respect. It was on that basis we were able to end two wars while still focusing on the very real threat of terrorism and try to work with our partners in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s the reason why we are moving in the direction to normalize relations with Cuba and the nuclear deal that we are trying to negotiate with Iran.”
I would be mildly interested to know what Obama’s source is for the “most respected” characterization. For that matter, I wonder what it is for the “barely above Russia” reference. And what is it with Obama and being casually derogatory about Russia?
That’s really the point about, let’s face it, BS comments like the one here. Obama has never gotten beyond being a sophomore kicking around superficial analyses of situations, as if he has no responsibility for what is communicated or decided about them.
The last thing the president of the United States should do is get up in front of an audience and proclaim that the U.S. is the most respected country on earth. The second-to-last thing — and it’s a very close second — is get up to proclaim a comparison with the respect accorded to other countries. What is this, a survey for Parade?
Even if a moving finger wrote it upon the heavens that very morning, it’s still not what the president of the United States is there to say. His job is to communicate what America’s goals, intentions, and policies will be. Leadership doesn’t lie in watching opinion surveys to see whom we’re more respected than, and it certainly doesn’t lie in talking about them. Let history judge — let the Twittersphere judge — who’s number one, respected-nation-wise.
Maybe Obama believes he can proclaim that America is the most respected country, and so then it shall be. Who knows. Meanwhile, for a flavor of what the YSEALI kids have been doing, check out their YSEALI Generation: EARTH workshop in Cambodia in April, which involved being mentored about (what else) environmental activism. A nice young man from Brunei won some “seed money” for an app that seems to do nothing more than help users snap photos of timber logging and post them on the web. As our ambassador to Cambodia, William E. Todd, pointed out, this was all funded by a grant through the U.S. embassy.