In the context of the midterm elections in the United States, Chinese state media mocked President Barack Obama for being an ineffective and now lame-duck leader, as well as the American political system more generally.
An editorial that was published on the Global Times website on Wednesday local time said that “U.S. public opinion has downgraded Obama” and that the midterm elections will further cripple the lame-duck president by giving the Republican Party control over both houses of Congress.
Much of the editorial took a mocking and disparaging tone towards the U.S. president. For example, the editorial argued that “Obama’s best performance is empty rhetoric.”
“Obama always utters ‘Yes, we can’ which led to the high expectations people had for him,” the Global Times editorial board said. “But he has done an insipid job, offering nearly nothing to his supporters. U.S. society has grown tired of his banality.”
The editorial also took aim at Obama’s foreign policy record. Echoing frequent Republican criticisms of the U.S. president, the Global Times wrote that while Obama has boasted that he brought U.S. troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, “he left no peace” in either of those countries. Similarly, it noted that although Osama bin Laden had been killed “during his tenure” [seemingly downplaying Obama’s role in bringing about that outcome], the Islamic State had emerged in the Middle East on his watch. On the other hand, the Ukraine crisis has “almost” brought Europe back to the Cold War, the Global Times opined, and the administration’s pivot to Asia has created mistrust between the U.S. and China as well as across Asia more generally.
At the same time, part of the editorial struck a more sympathetic tone towards Obama by blaming his lackluster performance on larger failings in the American political system and society at large. To begin with, GT pointed out that Obama is the first African American president and as a result he can only get “limited tolerance and acceptance.”
Also in Obama’s defense, GT noted that “partisan politics” in the United States has become more extreme in recent years. “Cohesion in American society is diminishing,” the GT editorial proclaimed.
Nonetheless, GT concluded that excessive partisanship is an inherent flaw in Western democracies. “That party interests are placed higher than the interests of the country and its people is an inherent shortcoming of Western political systems,” the editorial board argued, with no hint of irony despite the Communist Party’s record in China.
The GT editorial board noted that there is a debate in America about whether the country’s current woes are a reflection of the current president’s ineffectiveness or larger structural problems, as scholars like Francis Fukuyama have argued. Ultimately it deemed this question largely irrelevant, arguing that the “country is too lazy to reform” and that there will be “no great American president in this era” who might turn things around.
President Obama will be visiting Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting next week.