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Obama overshadowed Biden

Self-identified as a “background person” when attending COP26, but Obama still has great influence, even overwhelm incumbent US President Biden.

Former US presidents generally try to avoid overshadowing the current head of the White House. To ensure this, former US president Barack Obama attended COP26, the ongoing United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, a week after its opening day, and participated in it personally. .

During his speeches at COP26, Obama repeatedly praised President Joe Biden’s domestic efforts when pushing for the passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. He also described himself as a “background man” for other US officials at the event.

“I’m John Kerry’s DJ Khaled,” he said at a separate event on November 8, referring to globally renowned music producer DJ Khaled and the veteran US diplomat and climate envoy. John Kerry.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, November 8.  Photo: Reuters.

Former US President Barack Obama speaks at the United Nations climate change conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, November 8. Photo: Reuters.

However, in reality, Obama’s aura is still too great, not like a “background person”. Welcomed as a head of state, he attracted a lot of attention with his speech at the event.

Observers also paid much attention to his comments and some even commented that he was the most popular leader at COP26. An article in the local newspaper Scotsman even praised Obama for “bringing inspiration to Glasgow” and perhaps this was “the much-needed event inspiration”.

With only a week to go until the end of the conference, the heat Obama brought to Glasgow was in stark contrast to Biden’s. The incumbent president is generally still warmly welcomed, but his statements have not left much of an impression on the international media.

Before Obama spoke, some observers suggested that Biden was simply repeating the same old message. Last week, French TV presenter Yann Barthès contrasted Biden’s 2021 speech with Obama’s speech at COP21, the 2015 conference that led to the Paris Climate Agreement, and asked: “Does everyone look familiar?”

For Biden, Obama’s lasting influence on the world stage is both a “gift” and a “burden”. Few recent American leaders have been viewed as positively abroad as Obama. Biden thus benefited from his role as vice president under the Obama administration. However, besides that, the current US President also faces pressure to convince the world that he will not be covered under the shadow of his predecessor.

The Pew Research Center has been continuously tracking attitudes about America in several countries since 2000, polling thousands of people around the world for an overview of how the world views global views. American presidents and their policies.

Positive views of Obama prevailed when he took office in 2009. In key US allies such as Britain, Canada, France, Germany or Japan, about 9 in 10 respondents that year. said they were confident the new US president would “do the right things” in the face of global issues.

Biden after taking office did not receive overwhelming support like Obama. 93% of Germans said they trusted Obama in 2009, compared with 78% for Biden in 2021. Similar gaps are also observed in other countries.

However, Laura Silver, a senior researcher at Pew, notes that at present, it is difficult to directly compare the global popularity of Obama and Biden because they have only collected data on Biden once. spring.

“Both Obama and Biden took office in broad public confidence, especially compared with Bush or Trump,” Silver said.

But Biden’s global popularity does not appear to have increased since he entered the White House. The Pew survey was conducted ahead of several important recent international developments, including the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and COP26.

On the other hand, Another difficult task for Biden is that he must fix America’s global image after 4 years of Trump running the country.. Views of American leadership fell to a low after Trump took office in 2017, with confidence in him setting record lows in most of the countries surveyed.

Trump’s “America First” policy has pitted him against both enemies and allies, with only a handful of like-minded leaders like the populist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. In nearly all of the countries Pew surveyed, Trump received a negative rating for his global popularity.

Many foreign officials were relieved after Biden returned to the White House. “Welcome back, America,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted last November. A series of comments with similar content also continuously appeared on Twitter at that time.

But some others believe that after 4 years, Trump has made an indelible impression on the US in the international arena, accompanied by a cautious mentality. Trump’s moves to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and other international groups and treaties have raised serious questions about how dealing with an increasingly polarized America.

“While Biden will dramatically reform politics, there is no guarantee that the United States will not revert to Trumpism in the future,” wrote Rosa Balfour of the Carnegie Center for Europe in April.

In speeches at COP26, Biden and Obama both took aim at Trump. President Biden apologized for Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.

“I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I still apologize for the fact that the US and the previous administration pulled out of the Paris Agreement and left us a little bit behind,” he said last week.

Obama concurred, noting that Trump’s term was “four years of hostility to climate science, coming from the very head of our government.”

But Obama’s presence at COP26 and his lasting influence were also A reminder of a past in which his hopes were unfulfilled.

After his speech, the former US president met with youth delegates to discuss the future, but some blamed him for not living up to previous climate commitments.

In a message to Obama on Twitter, Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate said she was only 13 years old when rich countries, including the US, promised to contribute 100 billion USD a year until 2020 to help poor countries. more against climate change. But the US and other countries have not kept that promise.

“The richest country on Earth does not contribute enough to the funds that save lives,” she wrote.

Obama wants to meet young activists but “we want action,” added Nakate. “If the incumbent president wants to break the bad impression of an America that doesn’t keep his word on climate change, he has to step out of his old shadow.”

Vu Hoang (Follow Washington Post)

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