Stephanopoulos: Obama's Trip a Test He 'Passed Pretty Easily'

Assessing President Barrack Obama's overseas trip, ABC's George Stephanopoulos proposed it was “a real test for the President” and, no surprise, decided “he passed it pretty easily” since “he was confident, he had a sense of command in his personal and his public diplomacy, forged strong relationships with his European counterparts...” Furthermore, Stephanopoulos admired Obama's “strong” unannounced visit to troops in Iraq, touting how the President “capped off” his travels “with this critical visit to the troops. When you've got American troops fighting on two fronts, you have to end that visit with a strong visit with the troops, and he did.”

Asked by anchor Charles Gibson to list some minuses, Stephanopoulos acknowledged “good feelings with your allies don't guarantee agreement,” citing Obama's inability to secure help in Afghanistan and with North Korea, but the host of ABC's This Week wrapped up with how the  White House is pleased with the trip -- as if it were possible they wouldn't be: “They feel this trip went exactly as they planned. They couldn't be happier. Now they're going to come back home and focus again on the economy.”

Hard to imagine how they could be any happier with the media's reverential coverage.

As Stephanopoulos oozed over how Obama “forged strong relationships with his European counterparts,” ABC displayed on screen the same photo of Obama, arm-in-arm with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which ABC showcased on Saturday's World News -- an image anchor David Muir insisted demonstrated how “other heads of state are seemingly trying to get close to the head of the class, or the cool kid in the class, if you will, President Obama.” Stephanopoulos echoed: “The President's stagecraft on this trip and his star power have really held up all through his trip to Europe.”

For more, see my April 4 NewsBusters item, “Obama's Week Through ABC's Prism: 'Cool Kid in the Class.'”

The Gibson-Stephanopoulos exchange on the Tuesday, April 7 World News on ABC:
CHARLES GIBSON: George, the President has now had his first week as President on the international stage. So, let's do a little summing up. Overall, the pluses from this trip?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it's a real test for the President, Charlie, and I think he passed it pretty easily. He was confident, he had a sense of command in his personal and his public diplomacy, forged strong relationships with his European counterparts. He signaled to the European public that there was going to be a fresh start in relations with the United States, and especially to the Muslim world, that they have a friend in the White House, in some ways, one of their own. And as Jake [Tapper] just showed, he capped it off with this critical visit to the troops. When you've got American troops fighting on two fronts, you have to end that visit with a strong visit with the troops, and he did.

GIBSON: How about the minuses from the week?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, what we saw this week is that good feelings with your allies don't guarantee agreement. On the G-20, the European nations did not go along with the kind of stimulus the President would have hoped for. And even that trillion dollars that they came up with for the developing world may not materialize. On Afghanistan, NATO endorsed the President's policies, but it's pretty clear the United States is going to be carrying the bulk -- overwhelming bulk -- of the military load. And even though the President had good meetings with both the Chinese and the Russian leaders, we saw, after that North Korean missile test, that they're not eager to go along with what the United States would want when it comes to the U.N. resolutions to sanction North Korea.

GIBSON: So, some pluses, some minuses. Overall, White House aides happy?

STEPHANOPOULOS: They feel this trip went exactly as they planned. They couldn't be happier. Now they're going to come back home and focus again on the economy.

GIBSON: Alright, George Stephanopoulos, thanks very much.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center