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American punditry has been horribly amiss in pegging the current US president.
LONDON, U.K. — Which of the following is the real Barack Obama?
The correct answer is none of the above, or perhaps more accurately a bit of each.
That's why I give a failing grade to the American news media, which at one time or another in the past 14 months has given us all of these answers to the question of how well the new American president is performing his job.
I am not talking about the wacko commentators on American talk radio and television who seem to live in another world and pronounce President Obama to be a communist, another Hitler, or even the anti-Christ. I mean the widely read political writers and columnists who ply their trade on the dwindling pages of America's daily newspapers and magazines and the pundits who populate the more respectable internet blogs.
American media opinion makers seem to have no patience, no sense of history, and an urgent need to pronounce judgment before facts can be gathered. Perhaps they are a reflection of the nation itself — young, restless, eager for quick and simple answers to complex questions.
My advice to readers of opinion columns is clip them, hold them for six months, and then see how much they are worth. Better yet, don't waste your time and stick to reading real news stories, preferably those written by reporters who actually witnessed the events. If the byline is Washington or New York and the story is about something happening half way around the world, it's not worth reading.
American punditry would be less objectionable if it did not set the tone for the foreign correspondents who cover American politics from Washington. Like foreign correspondents everywhere, they basically steal their stuff from the newspapers and broadcasters of the country they are covering. So when American pundits say President Obama is a weak and indecisive leader, foreign governments may conclude that he is a pushover — like the Chinese who snubbed him at the Copenhagen conference on global warning, the Russians who dragged their feet on arms control, or Prime Minister Netanyahu, who mocked the president's request to freeze Jewish settlement building in the Arab part of Jerusalem.