You know things must be going really badly for Barack Obama when even his most ardent supporters across the Atlantic are turning against him. In an interview with The Times, European Commission President and arch eurofederalist Jose Manuel Barroso is openly disappointed about the current state of the transatlantic relationship, describing it as a “missed opportunity” for Europe:
The transatlantic relationship is not living up to its potential. I think we should do much more together. We have conditions like we have never had before and it would be a pity if we missed the opportunity.
Even more scathing are the comments of a senior aide to Nicolas Sarkozy, who is quoted by The Times as saying:
Obama does not come from the same tradition as his predecessors. He is interested in Asia and Russia, not Europe. There is no sense of a privileged relationship. They seem to take us for granted sometimes.
And here’s what a German government official had to say about Obama’s call for Europe to spend more money on stimulus measures instead of reducing budget deficits:
If our austerity cuts lead to street demos, the protesters will be shouting out phrases they heard from Obama. How do you think that makes us feel?
Such sentiments would have been unthinkable 19 months ago, when Obama was swept into power amidst a wave of global euphoria, especially in Europe. Now he’s regarded with suspicion, even derision in many quarters of the European Union, including in Britain where his handling of the BP/Gulf oil spill issue has led to a furious political and media backlash.
It was inevitable that a president elected with such high international expectations would eventually disappoint. But the speed with which he has fallen from grace, even in the capitals of Europe where his left-wing, big government ideals are traditionally most prevalent – Brussels, Berlin and Paris for example – has been simply breathtaking.
George W. Bush may not have been the most popular figure in Europe when he was president, but at least he was respected by European leaders, and feared by his enemies. In contrast Barack Obama is not only disliked abroad, but also increasingly isolated among America’s allies, and viewed as weak by America’s adversaries. So much for Obama’s boast of “restoring” America’s standing in the world.