Tom Friedman is traveling in Egypt, and all anyone wants to know is, “Obama? Do you think they will let him win?”(It’s always “let him win” not just “win.”)
It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Democrats’ nomination of Obama as their candidate for president has done more to improve America’s image abroad — an image dented by the Iraq war, President Bush’s invocation of a post-9/11 “crusade,” Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay and the xenophobic opposition to Dubai Ports World managing U.S. harbors — than the entire Bush public diplomacy effort for seven years.
Of course, Egyptians still have their grievances with America, and will in the future no matter who is president — and we’ve got a few grievances with them, too. But every once in a while, America does something so radical, so out of the ordinary — something that old, encrusted, traditional societies like those in the Middle East could simply never imagine — that it revives America’s revolutionary “brand” overseas in a way that no diplomat could have designed or planned.
I had the same reaction whenever I was abroad this year, but it was always just a possiblity that even my most progressive colleagues in Europe doubted would happen. Now its time for Barack to go on a tour of the European and Mid Eastern Capitals. It’s a traditional rite of Presidential nominees to do so. My guess is this time he might be really greeted with flowers and cheers.