One enduring, pernicious myth which has been successfully advanced by Democrats and the mainstream media is that great damage was done to America's prestige and influence around the world during the Bush years. A look at just some of Bush's achievements shows this to be false.
Relations with our important allies in Europe - Britain (Blair), France (Sarkozy), Germany (Merkel) and especially with the former Soviet block countries, were at least as good under Bush as they were under Clinton. The close relationship that was developed with Colombia under Alvaro Uribe provided us with a strong ally to counter the menacing Chavez-Castro block in Latin America. (Democrats are risking that relationship with their failure to finalize the Free Trade Agreement worked out by Bush and Uribe). In the Middle East, Iraq was transformed (at great cost to be sure) from an aggressive, oppressive terrorist state into a non-threatening democratic ally. Among other strategic benefits, this also allowed us to remove our troops stationed in neighboring Saudi Arabia, which had been a major sore point with Muslims. Chastened by the example of Saddam Hussein, Libya's Moammar Khaddafy abruptly ended his nation's surprisingly advanced nuclear weapons program. Our democratic soul mate in the region, and number one ally in the world, Israel, never had a better friend than G. W. Bush. In Asia, Pakistan flipped from a nation abetting terrorism to one taking forceful steps opposing it. The Taliban was removed from power in Afghanistan and al-Queda was pushed into its remote mountain regions. And respect and co-operation between the U.S., India, Japan, and even China was never stronger than during the Bush years. The state of our relations with Asia under Bush is examined in an article by China expert, Ross Terrill in The Weekly Standard. Terrill warns that if his recent trip to the region is any indication, President Obama may ultimately undo much of the progress of his predecessor.
Concerning Obama's Asian photo-op tour, Victor Davis Hanson (NRO) expressed puzzlement over liberal disappointment with the results of the trip. He notes that Obama was merely putting his diplomatic philosophy into practice.
The liberal discontent (even in the New York Times, of all places) is strange, inasmuch as Obama campaigned on exactly this sort of multilateralism and deference to the UN. In this new approach, America doesn't try to "get" anything from anyone, but simply listens, and as a guest abroad defers to its hosts. After all, Obama has rejected in explicit language the notion of American exceptionalism. The Nobel Peace Prize committee correctly sensed Obama's departure from the past and preemptively awarded him the prize, both as praise for his utopian rhetoric and as a reminder than the first multilateral president should govern as if the United States is merely one among many nations in the world.
It's difficult to determine which is worse - Obama's dysfunctional domestic agenda, throwing trillions of taxpayer dollars into new, huge bureaucratic programs, never a good idea but absolutely insane in the midst of a severe economic downturn - Or his ignorant, naive, apologetic, protectionist, genuflecting approach to international diplomacy, disdaining and discouraging allies, favoring and emboldening enemies, and undermining America's crucial leadership role in securing world peace and stability. Obama's abdication of this role has two major beneficiaries - 1) world power wannabes (Russia, China, Iran) looking to fill the vacuum we leave behind and 2) UN and European career diplomats whose stature is enhanced by virtue of representing nations and institutions now considered the equal of the U.S. The Nobush Peace Prize Committee is comprised of these politicians, by the way. (Credit goes to Mark Steyn for the appropriate name adjustment). Obama's declaration of the U.S. as an unexceptional nation also flatters the populations of what were previously regarded as minor countries thus accounting for his high poll numbers abroad. Of course, we're still expected to spend billions providing a defense umbrella for those nations, so as to allow them to prop up their shaky welfare state economies and invest in their infrastructure without fear of attack from large, unsavory predator states. That we provide this service free of charge is a fact not emphasized (to put it mildly) in the president's "we're so sorry for being arrogant" speeches.
Several years ago where I worked, the underlings (or wretches, as we called ourselves) were gathered together to listen to a spiel by management. We were told that company policy was that incoming, newly minted PhDs were to be started at a higher grade level than long time employees holding only Bachelors or Masters degrees. Needless to say, this did not go down well with the B. S. and M. S. veterans among us. One clearly irritated colleague (the company used that term to make us all feel like equals) asked, (and I paraphrase) "Are you saying that you think that a concientious, knowledgeable, experienced worker who's given years of his life to the company is less valuable than...than...some kid off the street?!"
The fundamental problem with Obama (aside from his radicalism) was astutely articulated by radio host Hugh Hewitt - "He doesn't know how to be president". But then, why would he be expected to? As George Will has written, Obama had never run so much as a Dairy Queen before becoming president. Sarah Palin, who was denounced as being too inexperienced for the presidency by the left (and by some on the right), was not actually running for that job. However, having been a mayor and a governor, she was vastly more qualified for it than Obama. He is literally just a kid off the street.