Friday, June 20, 2014

Bashing Obama on Latin America

There seems to be a media formula for describing President Obama's Latin America policy.

1. Assert that he is ignoring Latin America
2. Find someone who agrees, often conservative, as supportive evidence
3. Provide no empirical evidence

This is what we have in the Christian Science Monitor, which states categorically that Vice President Biden's trip offers no specifics of any kind. Yet James Bosworth notes one specific and useful energy policy initiative that Biden discussed with the Dominican Republic. Plus, the Dominican ambassador wrote his own op-ed about all the great things going on between the two countries.

Biden, of course, also went to Brazil. According to the CSM:

Biden’s goodwill agenda is seen as a sign of how little US-Latin American relations have progressed under the Obama administration. 

But then we take a look at concrete numbers from the Pew Research Global Attitude Project, and what do we find? That Brazilians' view of Obama has improved significantly since 2009 and so in 2013 stood at 69 percent. True, this doesn't take the NSA stuff into consideration and there is plenty of mutual skepticism, but the gloom and doom tone seems not to have much empirical basis. Indeed, we also know from several studies that Latin American views of the United States are very positive overall.

I keep coming back to the op-ed I wrote about Obama's low key Latin America policy. Basically, we have a situation where Biden is traveling to hear concerns and discuss at least some new policies, and is bashed as doing nothing. There are literally even complaints that Obama failed because he didn't go himself!

Ultimately, this is all about picking nits. Compare Obama's achievements and lack of stupid decisions in Latin America and he stands up quite well. Compare him only to his predecessor and he is an absolute gem. Compare him to some sort of perfect ideal and he will fail.


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