The Obama administration's recent public discourse has had a significant international flavor; with the announcement of upcoming face-to-face Middle East peace talks, the condemning of the release of a convicted bomber to his home country, and ramped up talk of the end of combat in Iraq. In the thick of a sour economy, some Republicans are labeling it an effort to deflect.
Former Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush Brad Blakeman tells Fox, "This president is doing what other presidents have done when they have trouble domestically and that's they shift gears and turn to something they have a little bit more control of...so this is a favorite pastime of president's who are in trouble."
On day two of his vacation in Martha's Vineyard, the president dispatched his homeland security and counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to once again condemn the release of the 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 bomber. That same day, his Secretary of State was touting a Middle East peace break-though and announcing upcoming face-to-face talks in Washington. On Monday, the Vice President told the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Indianapolis that the Obama administration is guiding Afghanistan and Iraq on a path to success.
So, is all of the talk of international achievements an attempt to refocus the public?
No, says Robert Shapiro, Former Undersecretary of Commerce under President Clinton, "The American people don't need to be told by any president what their economic conditions are. They know what they are, they live with them every day...The president will not make the mistake that I think the first president Bush did, which is to say if we talk about something else, the country will forget about the economy."
To be sure, Mr. Obama doesn't shy away from talk about the economy, he just blames Republicans for it. The president has honed a metaphor for use in his fundraising speeches about the Republicans driving the economy into a ditch and now wanting the keys back.
Democrats say that rather than changing the subject, Mr. Obama is actually trying to rally his base; many of whom are anxious for peace to take hold in the Middle East and for U.S. troops to return home from Iraq.
"This is a central achievement, and both of his administration and of the last year and a half of the Bush administration, and it's appropriate that the country take notice and certainly that the president acknowledge it, and this is promise kept, and a centerpiece of US foreign policy," Shapiro told Fox. Whatever Mr. Obama's reason for doing so, Blakeman says stressing an international agenda in the midst of midterms is not the way to appeal to voters. "It has almost no impact at all, unless, of course, there's a crisis. But fortunately, we're not at a crisis point weeks to go before the mid-term elections...It's all about domestic issues."