A while back, I drove past a sun-tanning salon sharing a property line with a cemetery. The salon posted a sign that, in my opinion, was positioned too close to the cemetery's property line. The sign read: "Walk-ins Welcome." Obviously, the owners failed to communicate the message they intended, but did their part to lighten up the normally somber atmosphere around the cemetery. Playwright George Bernard Shaw was right when he said, "The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion it has taken place."
Without a doubt, George W. Bush received a lot of flak over what some viewed as ineptitude in communication skills, but anyone can be made to look like a chump if everything he says is scrutinized under a host of antagonists' microscopes.
It's quite entertaining to observe the grace now bestowed upon President Obama by the same people who had nothing positive to say about Bush. Obama has had his own share of gaffes -- with and without his most beloved teleprompters. Mainstream media have pretty much overlooked occasions when Obama has lost his bearings like the time he said he had visited all "57 states". Or his verbal slip-up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when he said he saw "fallen heroes" (dead people) sitting before him in the audience, or when he mispronounced the word "corpsman" as "corpse-man" during a prayer breakfast.
Innocent communication blunders by our leaders are funny, and should not be turned into character assassination tools by the mainstream media or by overweight, BVD-adorned, middle-aged basement-dwellers (bloggers).
Liberals also criticized Bush for the way he communicated his foreign policy and claimed the world loathed us because of it. Bush's strong-armed approach effectively protected us from another 9/11 for nearly a decade. Bush understood that pansy-bottomed diplomacy antics like bowing and apologizing foster disrespect, and do little to promote America's image globally. Communicating niceties like "please" and "thank you" may not compute in the minds of those living in a part of the world where the chopping off of body parts aptly communicates just punishment for theft.
As good as that moment was, the taking out of Osama bin Laden did not sound foreign policy make. Peace has not come to the Middle East from the marginalization of our long-term ally Israel while buddying-up to her enemies. Nor has it come with the betrayal of former friends like Egyptian ally Mubarak. Diplomacy has not reduced the saber-rattling of Iran's trigger-happy nut job Ahmadinejad.
A June 2012 Pew Global Attitudes poll "Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies Faulted," found global approval of Obama's policies has "declined significantly" since 2009. Of 19 countries including Europe polled, just 23% approve of Obama's drone war tactics. Although Obama's approval ratings in Muslim countries are better than Bush's 2008 numbers, 69 percent of Muslim countries polled (including Egypt) have no confidence in Obama.
Despite his Cairo speech and his effervescence, healing of the nations has not occurred under Obama's watch.
Another Pew poll on July 10, 2012, conducted in 21 countries found Obama's policies have hurt our image and his in the Arab Spring countries of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia, as well as in Turkey and Pakistan. 55 percent of those polled said they consider America an enemy of democracy! In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring purportedly began, 57 percent said they had zero confidence in Obama's ability to handle international affairs.
To no surprise, Obama remains a rock star to youth in the nanny states of Europe, but his approval numbers are nearing rock-bottom in countries he bent over backward to not offend and forward to befriend.
The administration's ham-fisted communication skills and foreign policy blunders have left citizens of the world with the task of muddling through mixed messages sent by way of sugary speeches, ally betrayals, and drone attacks. The Obama era has not made the world a safer place, and as to being more dangerous, history will reveal in due time.
Susan Stamper Brown writes about politics, the military, the economy and culture. Email her at @susanstamperbrown.com.