President Obama said during the last presidential debate: "The world needs a strong America. And it is stronger now than when I came into office." When I heard that, I thought of the long-known illness that befalls candidates running for office —it is called press release delirium (or believing your own press releases).
It was a sad moment for me. If he actually believes that America has a stronger stand in the world than when he came into office, then he lives in a fabricated world. If he doesn’t believe it and says it because admitting otherwise would be acknowledging his own failure, I can understand. However, the fact remains the same; our standing in the world has been diminished over the last four years.
While the vast majority of the debate was concentrated in the Middle East, the level of disappointment with this President throughout the world is troubling. The lofty goals of Hope and Change that inspired millions around the globe upon his coronation have turned into outright defiance.
Whether we are talking about the loss of our Ambassador in Benghazi, Iran’s uranium enrichment actions that’s brought it closer to a nuclear weapon than it was four years ago, or the growing instability in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries, we realize that America is not stronger for having President Obama in office.
When the President talked about China as our adversary my mouth dropped. I don’t know whether he meant it or he made a mistake. Either way, it did not look good for our commander in chief, who just moments before had talked about clarity. Words do matter Mr. President, so I wonder how our standing with China is today.
Even our relationship with our immediate neighbor to the south has suffered tremendously in these last four years. Need I remind anyone of the Fast and Furious fiasco and the Wiki Leaks embarrassment that prompted our secretary of state to personally apologize to Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón? It goes without saying that there has been also severe disappointment in the Mexican community for the unfulfilled promise to reform immigration.
And what about Latin America? Does the President really believe that we have a stronger relationship with the countries to our south? I only hear of deep disappointment with the lack of trade agreements with countries in Central and South America. Maybe he can take solace in the fact that Hugo Chávez would vote for him, but that does not make for a great stand in the world.
Last night, I thought the President looked tired. As a sitting president, foreign affairs are supposed to be his forte; after all he has had the benefit of U.S. intelligence at his disposal and has met with foreign leaders time and again. Unfortunately for him the debate was a disaster; he not only confused the facts, he made false statements outright. To his chagrin, he has to admit that the world does not see him as he sees himself. Sadly, he will be disappointed in himself.
Rosario Marin was the 41st Treasurer of the United States and is co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance.