I’m not sure who Christi Parsons is other than the person who’s byline accompanied the following piece I found not in the opinion section but in the news section of my local paper. I’ll excerpt parts of it, you let me know whether news is being reported or an opinion is being rendered:
President Barack Obama played a game of doubles table tennis alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron in London the other day, in a display of awkward athleticism that ended when it was apparent they couldn’t beat their opponents – a pair of middle-school boys.
Yet they let the unguarded moment play out on television, an unrehearsed pas-de-deux the likes of which never took place on camera during Obama’s first presidential tour of Europe, a voyage marked by its careful orchestration.
“He’s not the junior person anymore,” said Steve Flanagan, a Europe specialist and senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “He has gained a lot of credibility for things he has done and for his general message about how he wants to engage with the rest of the world.”
Obama’s speech May 19 pressuring Israelis to return to the negotiating table with Palestinians appears to have given him more heft even in the last week, Flanagan said, as shown by the willingness of European leaders to hold off expressing support for the Palestinians’ intention of asking for United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state.
Yet when he arrived back in Washington on Saturday, Obama returned to the reality that, regardless of his popularity in Europe, his domestic audience is a fickle one. Americans expect their president to be a force on the world stage, but a strong standing there won’t guarantee his re-election.
Advisers who were in the room for Obama’s one-on-one talks during his six-day trip described conversations that suggest his relationships with European allies have deepened.
Obama’s conversations with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stood out in particular, as candid photos from inside showed the men laughing with each other. One aide said the two men were joking about mutual acquaintances, though they wouldn’t say which world leader, if any, was being discussed.
Yet neither man felt the need to paste on smiles as they emerged for statements to the media, adopting grim visages and a stiffness that made some observers wonder what had gone wrong. It was hot in the room, a close adviser said, and the two had wrestled over the missile defense system that the U.S. wants to build in Europe but which worries the Russians.
One White House official characterized the disagreement as a sign of the maturity of the relationship between the two men.
“The reason that they can talk about the issues they’re talking about now is because of the amount of time they’ve invested in that personal relationship,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to the president. “It was only because of the rapport they built up with each other in negotiating the (new) START treaty and working through a range of issues in 2009.”
There were other signs of Obama’s growing comfort.
He lingered over a Guinness beer at a pub in Ireland, and laughed off a bit of confusion when he was in the middle of a toast to the queen of England and the band began to play, sounding like an orchestra nudging a long-winded Oscar winner off the stage.
He greeted a few leaders with slaps on the back. He went into a news conference without a card to prompt him on reporters’ names. In one G-8 session, he was seen chewing gum.
It’s hard to tell what Obama’s growing ease on the world stage means for U.S. interests. He and Medvedev may never achieve an agreement on the missile defense issue before one, or both, leaves office.
If the vision Obama tried to promote for supporting democracy in the Middle East and North Africa comes to pass, it will be years in the making and won’t necessarily be traced back to the G-8 meetings in Deauville.
But the Russian and American teams now have more than 20 working groups that could eventually bear fruit, if only because the two countries continue to talk. This week, for example, Medvedev decided to help the international community in its talks with Libya, where Russia still has contacts. And Medvedev said for the first time that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi must leave power, an added weight on the beleaguered regime.
An open line of communication with Russia also could ease security concerns in Poland, the final stop on Obama’s tour this week.
After Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk had his one-on-one meeting with the president, he told Obama, “You are proverbial.”
With that kind of feedback, it’s not surprising Obama had a bounce in his step last week.
And clearly, Ms. Parsons is doing her part in ensuring he keeps that bounce in his step and that it translates into a bounce in the polls. This piece isn’t about reporting the news, it’s about spinning it.
You can’t help but wonder what Ms. Parsons payback from the Obama campaign might be. Clearly she deservers compensation.