In 2008, Barack Obama wowed European crowds with his speeches and youthful energy. Everyone, including the media, got caught up in Obamamania. Some in the press even compared the candidate to a rock star.
Boy, what a difference 2+ years can make.
Obama's recent European trip has people scratching their heads over the President's bizarre lack of protocol. While some conservative commentators such as Glenn Beck take a semi-serious approach to the issue and its impact on American foreign policy, I tend to think of it more in terms of a fall from grace for the President.
When Obama was elected, people believed he would restore America to prominence in the world by taking a different approach to foreign policy than his predecessor, George W. Bush. Gone were the days of "cowboy diplomacy" and in came the era of smart diplomacy.
Then, Obama became President and we got to see his foreign policy shaping out to be...well, less than impressive. In trying to forge a new direction, Obama has successfully alienated two of our staunchest allies, Great Britain and Israel. Additionally, he's all but forgotten Germany, tried to buddy up with France (at Britain's expense, I might add), and taken sides in Egypt and Libya that are fraught with dangerous ties to groups that don't exactly dig our way of life.
One of the biggest problems I've seen with American foreign policy over the past few decades has been we almost seem ashamed to admit we're American. We're expected to sit there and take anything a tinpot dictator from a Third World country flings as us, truthful or otherwise. Then, we're expected to pick up the check whenever that same Third World country needs help from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. And with Obama at the helm, that shame in America among our leaders has skyrocketed.
And that shame has translated into embarrassment for world leaders who have to deal with Obama's protocol breaches. Although some might disagree, I think this is also hurting Obama's image around the world because he doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes. All he does is make bigger, more public mistakes, leaving ally and enemy alike to mock Obama.
If Obama was a rock star in 2008, he's becoming a bad Vegas lounge act in 2011.