Giving Credit to Obama When Credit Is Due

I can remember the disgust I felt between 2001 and 2008 when so many critics of President Bush couldn’t bring themselves to applaud anything he did, instead only grinding their teeth as they mentioned his name. If boxed into a corner and forced into commending something, such as the overthrow of the Taliban, it would not be said without hateful prefaces and postscripts about how evil, dumb, incompetent, radical, etc. he is.

This pride-filled childishness, intellectual unfairness, and overall resistance to acknowledge any success propelled me to promise myself that I’d never adopt the same attitude, would remain as independent as possible so as not to be seduced by the partisan rage, and would take pride in supporting my president whenever I felt comfortable doing so. In keeping with that, I have cleaned out my inbox to prepare for the hate mail as I praise President Obama for achieving one of his main objectives.

The Nation Brands Index now ranks the United States as the most admired country around the world. Given that the majority of the world’s population is opposed to American foreign policies and is skeptical of our intentions, this is no easy feat -- especially following President Bush’s public relations problems.

“What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States for 2009,” said Simon Anholt, the founder of the NBI. He says the only factor he can identify as causing this is the election of President Obama.

Anholt is right. There is no other explanation for this change in America’s image, but I don’t think it’s President Obama’s foreign policy stances that have propelled America to the top of the poll. I would gamble that a similar portion of the world’s population opposes our policies in general, just as they did under President Bush. Withdrawing from Iraq, planning to close Guantanamo Bay, direct negotiations with rogue states, and other changes certainly help a good deal, but the more decisive factor is the image of Obama as a person and his “packaging” of his ideas that have improved America’s standing.