President Obama is about to forge his legacy during the last months of his presidency. He’s taking this time to leave a lasting impression in many parts of the world. By all accounts, Obama’s presidency has been scandal free. Certainly no personal dramas (well, except for the little Malia-Music Festival thing). Even his policies have not been controversial so much as perhaps incomplete, which congress is largely responsible for.
While the intention is for Obama to forge his legacy and build diplomatic bridges with countries abroad, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been busy mocking and criticizing Obama’s every move. Implying that he would be a better commander-in-chief.
Meanwhile President Obama made a stop (this is a first for any U.S. president) to the poverty ridden country of Laos. Obama had traveled to Indonesia as a boy and understands Buddhist philosophies. He visited several of the contemplative, inspiring and centuries-old temples in the region.
At a town hall meeting in the northern Laos city of Luang Prabang, the president spoke to the Laotian people about the benefits of a multicultural society. He scolded Americans for being too inward looking. Obama stated:
“If you are the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think, you know, ‘we’re so big, we don’t really have to know anything about other people.”
He added that Americans will be left behind if they continue down a path of societal isolationism. The trip to Laos is Obama’s attempt to capture the good will of eastern countries that can help put restraint on the Chinese domination in that region.
Obama made sure to tell Laotians that he was raised partly in Indonesia, voicing:
“Laos reminds me of my childhood.”
In direct contrast, Trump has been known to restrict his travels mostly to where his properties are. As a self-proclaimed germophobe, Trump has long stated his preference for his own luxury resorts.
As a very revealing example, on Trump’s recent visit to Mexico City to meet with the Mexican president, it lasted mere hours. He made absolutely no effort to see any of the country’s sights or cultural landmarks before jetting back to the United States.
In regard to the debacle at the Chinese airport where President Obama had to exit the rear staircase, Trump made clear that if it had been him he wouldn’t have tolerated it and turned the plane around. This type of impulsiveness and immaturity would certainly add a new element of unpredictability and danger to world affairs and diplomacy.
Obama has shown no such desire for drama. Even when the new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reportedly called the president a ‘son of bitch‘ (later corrected by a Liberal America reporter as referring to a member of the press) Obama was graceful.
His canceled his public meeting with the new president, but met with him in private before a dinner for leaders at a regional summit. It’s hard to imagine Trump handling a similar incident in as graceful a manner. And in fact, Trump has suggested he would not be a participant in foreign cultural ceremonies.
Watch our president handle himself in this video. What an ambassador for America!