President-Elect [of the World?]

Dec 15, 2008

The day following the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, I saw a CNN article stating that Obama was being seen by media as “President of the World.” My first thoughts were “this is more media bias” since the entire article was about how the media around the world was reacting to the results. Since I hadn’t heard that term before associated with our highest office, it certainly piqued my interest.

As I read that article, I found myself thinking of a dear friend that spends his life traveling throughout Europe. I emailed him asking to give me a sense of the people he meets on a day to day basis and whether they consider Obama the “President of the World.” Here are his comments gathered over the past month:

In the parts of the world I find myself, it is certainly true that the folk are smiling about our choice. The Herald Tribune had an article about how [expatriates] can now smile when they say they are from the USA.

As with any political talk, there are 2 sides and a counter answer for each statement. But one thing is clear in these parts of the world, the opinion about the USA is that it made a good decision, even went beyond expectations. Our president is a kind of “president of the world” no matter who he or she is, we simply have a large footprint and demand a great deal of attention.

Some things I read and heard [over the past month]:

If you travel to Europe and you did not vote for Obama, just say you did.

A woman in Vienna told me that she was on the subway and saw a black person and realized she usually thought of the person as someone that had traveled from their country to work and make money to send home, etc. but then she thought, or now they could become a president.

Good friend in Berlin said, ” I think you guys did well, we will see….”

I read that there might be an Obama “baby boom”.

Just a week ago, I was out with 2 Americans in Berlin, one is black the other is half black and half Jewish [we will call them Jack and Jill, respectively]. I asked “Jill” if she was a “mutt” and “Jack” replied “I know she is and I as well…. and finally I can say that because our future president said it.” “Jill” reveled that I could have said it anytime before because [we are all mutts].

At this point, no one knows how well President-Elect Obama will do at unifying this country (or for that matter, the World). It is certainly my hope that President Obama unites our country and promotes domestic tranquility. My favorite of these anecdotal references is from the German who spouts his approval but hedges his bet with “we will see….”

Yes, “we will see” on that, we are united!