I read an article in The Week recently on how the EU views Americans, specifically our current president. Now that I re-read this article for the purpose of this blog, I'm actually having a hard time figuring out what the point of the article is. You see, the article is titled "How they see us: Obama's domination of Europe," but the article concludes without really coming to a conclusion. Apparently, the EU doesn't know what to make of our president.
Anyway, the article discusses how back in May, President Obama was supposed to attend a summit in Madrid with the EU heads of state, and event evidently held with the main purpose of relationship building. Our president did not attend, saying "he was too busy to attend a meeting that had no clear and pressing agenda." I'm too busy to attend a meeting with no clear or pressing agenda.
The article continues by saying that President Obama has taken to videoconferencing with European heads of state about mutually important matters, such as the financial crisis. Apparently this goes against standard trans-Atlantic diplomatic policy.
But, I don't know, doesn't this seem like sort of a good idea, considering the global financial situation? I mean, it's not cheap to send our president anywhere. The Secret Service have to get there ahead of time and set up shop, roads, etc. have to be blocked, hotel rooms have to be booked. And it's not like Europe isn't having financial troubles of their own. Isn't this sort of setting a good example?
While I doubt the amount of money being saved by not flying our president to Europe is a drop in the bucket compared to our national debt or our budgetary situation, and I'm not even sure that the national bottom line was on President Obama's list of considerations when deciding not to fly to Europe, it's still not a bad plan.
Being too busy to fly to Europe not only makes financial sense, it also suggests that, regardless of what your personal opinion of his presidency is, at least our president is trying to do his job.