Arts, Culture & Media

Obama in Baghdad

(Has nothing like this ever happened before in a presidential campaign?) That's correct. Sitting presidents like Nixon and Franklin Roosevelt have taken high profile trips abroad during presidential years, but there's never been a presumptive president take such an ambitious foreign tour to major theaters of American interest around the world. (McCain has made many such trips in recent years.) Yes, but he didn't achieve the same high profile as Obama. (What about Eisenhower who pledged to end the war in Korea in 1952? He did make that trip to Korea and what happened?) Well Eisenhower was running as a Republican and the Republican campaign can be summarized as Korea-Communism-and-Corruption and Eisenhower blasted the Democratic incumbent administration for not ending Korea sooner. And then after he was elected he traveled to Korea and negotiated an end to the war and then was blasted by conservatives in his own party for settling to end the war. (You can see how momentous that initial trip was. Is it possible to tie that moment to Obama or McCain now?) I think indeed that trip laid the foundations for both Obama's and McCain's travels, although neither has the power of a president obviously. (If the US weren't at war right now, would it be incumbent on presidential candidates to make connections with other leaders internationally?) Foreign policy has been front and center mostly during periods of war, such as during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. So foreign policy becomes magnified especially during a time of a controversial war, like Iraq today or Vietnam or Korea in the past.)

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

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