Far less entertaining than Bill Murray, but still like a character in Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” Barack Obama is coming back empty-handed from his trip to Asia. He was unable to close the deal on a trade agreement with the South Koreans. Even the New York Times admits the problem: Even so, the delay is a setback for Mr. Obama, who is on a 10-day, four-nation swing through Asia that he has promoted as a mission to boost the American economy and create jobs.
What’s disturbing is that normally–to avoid embarrassment–such things are negotiated before the President takes the meeting with the foreign head of state. This is a sign of two things: the continued amateurishness of Obama and his administration and the declining influence of the United States. Of course, both are related. It harkens back to the fiasco in Copenhagen when Obama was unable to get anything through on global warming–although it was undoubtedly a good thing, in that instance, that he couldn’t. Here a trade agreement with powerful South Korea might be genuinely useful.
Anyway, our leader will be back home soon to face reality – or not.