Does It Matter Whether The World Loves Obama?

The world likes Obama more than Bush, says a Pew poll. But one former diplomat asks: "So what?"

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

The world agrees: President Obama is a rock star when compared with former President Bush. But just what the latest annual Pew Global Attitudes Project poll of 27,000 citizens in 25 nations means is sharply disputed by two of the people Pew rolled out to talk about it to reporters today. Former diplomats Madeleine Albright and John Danforth clashed on the meaning of the new poll, which found widespread support for Obama, especially when compared to Bush, but a continued negative attitude toward the United States.

Albright took the view that the world was happy to have Bush out and that even a Hillary Clinton presidency would have seen similar numbers. "I think people were really just happy to see George Bush gone," said Albright, a former United Nations ambassador and secretary of state. She suggested that having a president who is popular abroad will make it easier to do diplomatic business. "It helps," she said, though she added that Obama has to "translate" popularity into action. She suggested that Obama might be able to use his high standing around the globe to pursue deals on global warming, energy, arms control, and a Middle East peace plan. "It's a good start."

But Danforth panned that idea. While he said it is good to have a popular president, the poll found that the world still disdains America and is unwilling to join Washington in most major hot spots. "It's nice to be popular," said Danforth, a former U.N. ambassador and a former Republican senator from Missouri. "I just don't see that it translates," said Danforth. "I just don't see the seeds of a partnership in this information." nstead, his analysis was that the world prefers Obama's "apologetic" approach to Bush's "assertive" style. "He really is a rock star," Danforth said of Obama, but "my response is, 'So what?'"

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