New York Times reporter Mark Landler’s lead story for Saturday’s National section boosted Obama (and slapped down Mitt Romney) via the unlikely topic of the president's reading material: “Obama Buttresses Case for U.S. Resilience With Book From Unlikely Source.” Landler reveled in what he called a "delicious coincidence for the White House."
When Senator Barack Obama was photographed clutching a copy of “The Post-American World” as he left his campaign plane during the Democratic primaries in May 2008, some critics viewed it as a telling sign that he embraced a view of the United States as a waning world power.
Now, as he runs for re-election, President Obama has latched on to a new foreign policy book, which offers a more appealing narrative for a leader facing fresh charges -- this time from Mitt Romney and the other Republican candidates -- that he is leading the United States into its twilight of global influence.
The book, “The World America Made,” makes the case that the nation’s decline is a myth, a reaction to the financial crisis of 2008 rather than to any genuine geopolitical shifts. In a delicious coincidence for the White House, the author is Robert Kagan, a neoconservative historian and commentator who advises Mr. Romney. The president has brandished Mr. Kagan’s analysis in arguing that the nation’s power has waxed rather than waned.
Nevertheless, Mr. Obama may be less vulnerable than previous Democratic presidents were, Mr. Beschloss and other analysts argued, because he has pursued an unexpectedly muscular foreign policy, particularly in counterterrorism. Some argue that he has been successful because he has recognized that in a world of other rising powers, the United States must lead in concert with others.
“Obama has managed to use effective diplomacy to enhance American influence,” said Fareed Zakaria, the CNN and Time commentator who wrote “The Post-American World.” But, he added, “it will be more and more difficult to maintain American influence without American power.”
It’s no surprise Zakaria would have kind words for Obama: Landler failed to acknowledge that Zakaria, along with Times columnist Thomas Friedman, has advised Obama on foreign policy. The omission is doubly puzzling since it was Landler himself who put Zakaria and Friedman in the spotlight in the first place with his May 12, 2011 story:
At night in the family residence, an adviser said, Mr. Obama often surfs the blogs of experts on Arab affairs or regional news sites to get a local flavor for events. He has sounded out prominent journalists like Fareed Zakaria of Time magazine and CNN and Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist at The New York Times, regarding their visits to the region. "He is searching for a way to pull back and weave a larger picture," Mr. Zakaria said.