In foreign policy, anyway. Funny thing about getting that 2012 election behind us; now that President Obama has been safely re-elected, we are seeing occasional outbursts of honesty about his performance. This AP report by Julie Pace is surprisingly accurate:
Nearly five years into his presidency, Barack Obama confronts a world far different from what he envisioned when he first took office. U.S. influence is declining in the Middle East as violence and instability rock Arab countries. An ambitious attempt to reset U.S. relations with Russia faltered and failed. Even in Obama-friendly Europe, there’s deep skepticism about Washington’s government surveillance programs.
In some cases, the current climate has been driven by factors outside the White House’s control. But missteps by the president also are to blame, say foreign policy analysts, including some who worked for the Obama administration.
Among them: miscalculating the fallout from the Arab Spring uprisings, publicly setting unrealistic expectations for improved ties with Russia and a reactive decision-making process that can leave the White House appearing to veer from crisis to crisis without a broader strategy.
Obama’s defense, as the AP notes, is that America is a pitiful, helpless giant–something that Richard Nixon was determined to prevent, while Obama apparently regards it as a best-case scenario. Thus have American power and influence declined.
[T]he perception of a president lacking in international influence extends beyond the Arab world, particularly to Russia. Since reassuming the presidency last year, Vladimir Putin has blocked U.S. efforts to seek action against Syria at the United Nations and has balked at Obama’s efforts to seek new agreements on arms control.
That Obama is a failure in foreign affairs isn’t news; that a generally liberal source like the Associated Press is willing to acknowledge the fact, is.