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Australia: Obama Charm Offensive Not Everyone's Cup Of Tea

Even before Airforce One had landed in Australia on Wednesday 16 November 2011, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard were online targets.

In his post John Passant threw a left hook at both Obama and the local Greens Party:

The Greens support war criminal Barack Obama

Instead of welcoming mass murderer Obama, the Greens, as the biggest non-mainstream party, should be organising demonstrations against the war criminal.

On the right side of the political stage, the little known Australian TEA Party announced a rally of their own:

This is our big chance to impact the extreme left elites that are crippling our country and indeed the world.

…Julia Gillard and Barak Obama. These two deeply cynical Politicians are seeking to deflect disastrous domestic policies and unpopularity in their respective countries with a carefully choreographed – ‘photo op ‘ – propaganda event.

At Twitter Erin Riley warned against anti-US criticism:

@erinrileyau
And now for two days of reflexive, ill-informed anti-Americanism #obama #ObamaOz 16 Nov

Seamus’ message seemed to fit this category:

@deweyite
Good to see #obama taking the time to visit his constituents in the 51st state #auspol 16 Nov

Meanwhile the Northern Territory Insurance Office issued the President a free crocodile $A 50,000 insurance policy for his visit to Darwin on Thursday.

Obama Crocodile Insurance. Image courtesy TIO.

Obama Crocodile Insurance. Image courtesy TIO.

PR Warrior saw some merit in this gimmicky self-promotion:

In this age of digitised communications and ‘authentic conversations with your community of followers’, it's refreshing to see there is still room for a good old-fashioned media publicity stunt.

A different, far more serious and potentially more deadly policy was the centrepiece of the visit. Your Democracy reposted an Op-Ed by Strategic Studies heavyweight Hugh White questioning plans to beef up America’s military presence in Australia. He concluded that:

Australia should tell Obama we take a different view on China.

A new Asia could evolve in which China exercises more power and influence than it has before, but does not dominate, and in which America no longer exercises primacy, but still plays a large and vital role. In short, an Asia in which the US and China share power.

This should be Australia's vision of Asia's future. We do not want to live under Chinse domination, but nor do we want to be squeezed by US-China rivalry. That is why, having given Obama a respectful hearing, we should explain why we take a different view. That is what good allies do.

Perhaps speech analyst and coach Dean Frenkel had in mind the Australian connection to the film The King’s Speech. Public speaking 101: A lesson in leadership from Obama was vocal advice for Oz politicians:

This is an opportunity for our elected representatives to listen to the outstanding professional communicator of our generation, the finest American political speaker since Martin Luther King. First and foremost, Mr Obama should trigger awakenings about the importance of communication skills to politicians. After listening to him, Australian politicians should clear their eyes, look into mirror, appraise their own abilities, commit to raising their standards and taking away some of Obama's qualities by osmosis.

Oz news aggregator, The Wall, had the top 100 tweets that it updated during the 27 hour charm offensive, plus a number of stories.

Twitter hashtags went viral, with #Aubama topping the trends and #POTUSinOz competing for the most obscure tag.

Fawning would be a fair description of many of the tweets, mixed with the usual fixation on his plane and his car. Barack certainly charmed much of the local audience. For the other view see the Aus TEA Party’s OBAMA /GILLARD … Makes Me Sick! or Gillard is worse than Obama ???

Barb is also not a fan, tweeting this link to Rupert Murdoch’s online new.com.au. The newspaper version has the less tacky title ‘Touching times for Julia Gillard and US President Barack Obama’:

@BabsNation
The Audacity of Grope: news.com.au/national/touch… Sums up this fawning, #Obama lovefest perfectly #Aubama #tcot #Auspol 17 Nov

On her blog Everyone is a Moon, Bron had her own ideas on this piece of ‘satire’ in THE AUDACITY OF TRIPE :

On a Presidential visit, there’s always plenty of news to, y’know, report. The US-Australia alliance. Security in the Pacific-Asia region. The expansion of US military presence in Australia. The implications of all this for China and India. Instead, we get this tedious, demeaning shit that I probably should come to accept from News Ltd by now, anyway.

Nick Condon was taken with the President’s speech to the Federal Parliament:

@nickcondon
Not gonna lie…. Obama is an incredible speaker. Amazing speech and only good things for Australia. #aubama 17 Nov

Two other hot topics fired some netizens: Julia Gillard’s intention to sell uranium to India and climate change action but there isn't room to cover those here.

As Airforce One left Darwin, the US was leading the rest of the world at the end of the first day of the Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne golf course. We might wonder how long America will be the unrivalled world leader. (Incidentally, neither Obama, nor this year’s Honorary Chair, Julia Gillard, was scheduled to visit the Cup.)

P.S. President Obama didn't need his free croc insurance this time but it could come in handy when he retires or is retired.

  • ACadman55

    Why do you call Obama a mass murderer? A war criminal? Obama was going to Australia to mark the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS Treaty signing. This treaty was made to protect people not kill it and Obama went to Australia to commemorate this treaty.

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