This morning, France is waking up in a state of stupor, facing the harsh reality : HE has gone !
Twenty-four hours, it's hard to believe, and yet it's true : Barack Obama is now far away from us, he will not be coming back. His visit is over, and the memory is not so beautiful. Was it a dream or a nighmare ? Difficult to know ! Everything went so fast !
This morning, France is waking up with the unpleasant impression that its adored hero has not quite come up to its expectations. Like a tennis champion whose game lacks inspiration during a grand slam final, Barack Obama has missed an opportunity to convince those who were ready to believe in the "change" he promises in his slogan.
When he left the USA for his trip overseas last week, the senator from Illinois probably hoped he could thus convince skeptical Americans that he would be a reliable Commander-in -Chief. He had in mind those persisting bad polls showing that in fact America is afraid... afraid of Him (only a little more than 20 % Americans think he would be a good commander-in-chief ! : quite worrying, of course, for his camp, who understood it would be impossible to win in november with such a bad image).
Unfortunately for him, his visit in Paris yesterday resulted in one thing only : his own limits, his already obvious weaknesses, his flaws, became more visible.
Even if the American media is certainly going to present the trip as a success today, they should not ignore that Obama made several blunders yesterday, which emphasize his inexperience.
The most important one is undoubtedly the ridicule amount of time he dedicated to the French people. As soon as he landed in his incredible "Obama One" plane (a picture which shocked a lot of persons : how can a simple candidate use such a name derived of course from "Air Force One" reserved to elected presidents ? Such an arrogance is viewed negatively here),
he seemed to be willing to take off again. He went out of the plane, then turned back as if he wanted to go inside the plane, avoiding to touch the French soil.
The private meeting with the French president was very brief too, far shorter than the one he had today with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown or the former PM Tony Blair. And the press conference which followed was nothing but a parody, something which appears to have been organized just to send images to the American TV channels, or to satisfy the numerous American journalists who were travelling with him.
This morning, such an attitude is quite hard to swallow.
The French have the feeling that their country has been neglected, considered as a small, unimportant nation while they think that France is and has always been a superpower ! This is a conclusion shared by many journalists, some of them present yesterday at the Elysée. We have been scorned !
That was a real mistake, because French people are proud, they like to know they count. Sometimes, they overestimate themselves, it's true, but they don't like to be looked down on. The ridiculous reference Obama made to "French fries" during the press conference will certainly not be enough to heal the wound.
Another blunder was his total lack of respect for the French opposition party : this one will be cruelly felt by all the French who still believe the Socialists could come back to power in the next elections, in 2012.
While he agreed to meet David Cameron in London, the leader of the Conservative Party in Britain, that is to say representing the Right, he rejected the idea of a meeting with a French socialist leader, yet representing the Left. When asked why he had accepted to meet David Cameron, Obama explained that it was normal for him to speak with the politicians who might be elected in the future, and with whom he would have to deal, if he were elected President of the USA.
Thanks a lot, Mr Obama : the French Socialists will be happy to hear that according to you, they have no chance of winning the next election ! That's very respectful from you : I'm sure Miss Ségolène Royal will appreciate ! But Obama does not care : I'm not sure he has a lot of admiration for female politicians, considering the way he treated Hillary during the primaries :
It's difficult to say if such a behaviour is due to a lack of knowledge in foreign affairs and diplomacy, sheer ignorance, carelessness, scorn, or arrogance. What is certain is that all this is not worthy of a presumptive candidate to the American presidency.
Finally, the French were right not to bother themselves to go to the Elysée yesterday, as we see in this picture showing very few people indeed :
They would have been so disappointed if they had been present !
What is far more intriguing today is why in London, where Obama was supposed to stay a little longer and to show a little more respect to a nation that apparently is a powerful ally, his walk with Gordon Brown in the streets near Downing Street, aroused so little attention. Have a look :