In an interview on CNN.com on Friday titled “Zakaria: Obama disappoints as world leader,” author and CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria threw cold water on the media’s laudatory coverage of President Obama’s trip to Europe: “Although he brought a lot of star power -- the talk of the week -- at least in certain circles in Washington, New York and London -- has been that President Obama is failing in his role as leader of the free world.” He cited a columnist overseas to support his opinion, something that hasn’t really been done in the media’s coverage of the trip. Zakaria also plugged the central thesis of his book, “The Post-American World” -- that the “rest of the world is rising to meet the United States’ position -- economically, politically and culturally.”
The unnamed correspondent who interviewed Zakaria began by asking what the anchor/author thought about the president’s trip. After dropping the “failing” word, he cited a recent column by British columnist Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian, that “President Obama looks neither like JFK nor FDR but rather JEC -- that’s James Earl Carter -- better known here as Jimmy Carter.” The interviewer countered, “But it appears everyone is fawning over him.” Zakaria answered, “President Obama has encountered a Europe that is more resistant to his policy proposals. The French and Germans have their own proposals. The Chinese and Russians have come with their own demands. And everyone expects him to apologize for having caused this mess in the first place.”
The CNN anchor turned to his thesis when the interviewer asked if Obama could be blamed for the “mess” in the global economy: “Of course not. He didn’t cause this mess, and no one really blames him personally. The problems President Obama is facing on the world stage have nothing to do with him. They are really a sign that personality cannot trump power in the world of realpolitik. The real story here is that power is shifting away from American dominance to a post-American world.” Zakaria defended himself after being skeptically asked if he was “just plugging [his] book,” that “what I had outlined [in the book] is coming true. The evidence for this just keeps piling up.”
After explaining his thesis more and outlining his “evidence,” the anonymous correspondent asked Zakaria, “What should the U.S. do?” He replied, “The United States needs to make its own commitment to the system clear. For America to continue to lead the world, we will have to first join it.” Despite using a form of the word “fails” to describe the president’s record, something which got Rush Limbaugh in trouble, the anchor also complimented Mr. Obama: “President Obama seems to understand this and is doing his best at meetings like the G-20 and the NATO summit.”
Zakaria concluded by using a standard left-wing criticism of the American people: “It is also imperative that more Americans become aware of what is going on in other places -- the other 90 percent of the world.” That parting thought could help inoculate Zakaria from any criticism of this assessment, if anyone in the media makes a big deal out of it at all.