I guess President Obama really is Irish, because there’s no denying the man’s got the gift of gab:
“In our digital age, we can connect and innovate across borders like never before — with your smart phones and Twitter and Me2Day and Kakao Talk,” Obama said during a speech at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. Hundreds of South Korean students, sitting in bleachers in the college’s gymnasium, whooped delightedly at the presidential name-check of their country’s premier social media networks.
And his “Gachi Gapsida” went over well with the crowd, too.
Not everybody was impressed with Obama’s performance in Seoul, though. Personally, I think the US president did just fine—more than fine, actually—but yeah, we’ve still got to wait and see whether Obama’s language is backed by actual intent. My impression is that it is.
Shocking headline in the Korea Times today:
“Korean students outpacing Americans in science, math”
I know. I couldn’t believe it either.
Anyway, from the KT:
U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday lauded South Korean students for outperforming American students thanks to the nation’s heavy investment in education.
“South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science,” Obama said in a speech at George Washington University to unveil his fiscal policy centering on budget deficit cuts while maintaining heavy investment in education. “They’re scrambling to figure out how they put more money into education.”
Now, not to take anything away from Korea’s investment into education, but I’m guessing Koreans’ performance in math and science probably has more to do with culture and educational priorities than investment. I’m also going to guess that you could put Koreans in the American school system and they’ll still outpace American kids in math and science. I’ll even venture that you can spend all the money you like on non-performing schools and test scores won’t rise without first building a culture that supports educational excellence.
Interesting column by Jeff Yang in the SF Chronicle about President Obama, America’s first “Pacific President” and our need to re-embrace our “Asian Values.” Not sure I agree with his conclusion — check that, I definitely don’t agree with his conclusion — but the piece is worth reading, none the less:
“We are not as powerful as we used to be because over the past three decades, the Asian values of our parents’ generation — work hard, study, save, invest, live within your means — have given way to subprime values: ‘You can have the American dream — a house — with no money down and no payments for two years.'”
The result of this abandonment of Asian values has been the running aground of our economy (with devastating ripple effects on the world); the tarnishing of our public image; the impairment of our ability to lead. “We are not who we think we are,” Friedman wrote. “We are living on borrowed time and borrowed dimes. We still have all the potential for greatness, but only if we get back to work on our country.”
We need to fix our listing ship, in a climate where the wind is blowing strongly toward the East. And if the solution is to reembrace our core “Asian values,” it stands to reason that a “Pacific president” is just who we need at the helm.
Read the rest on your own.
(HT to Oranckay)
The LAT’s blog posts the text of President Obama’s speech to US troops at Osan Air Base.
Good speech, IMHO, although I thought the preceding comment by blogger Andrew Malcom was cute:
[Obama] also promised to increase military pay, which received more applause. Obama reassured South Koreans that his country’s commitment to their security would never waver. At one point he cited as evidence of that enduring commitment a soldier there, Skip Sharp, whose father fought in the Korean War during the Truman administration.
So, let’s see, that puts us about 57 or 58 years into the 100 years that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, a campaigning Sen. John McCain was attacked so much for suggesting the U.S. troop commitment would last. Now, a President Obama says there is no end in sight.
No deep bow this time, but President Lee did get a hug.
(HT to Charlie)
Over at ROK Drop, a post about Chosun Ilbo Washington correspondent Lee Ha-won’s suggested itinerary items for President Obama yielded a rather interesting comment by ChickenHead listing things the BHO should see while in town (I’ll quote just the beginning):
Top Things Obama Should See in Korea
(These are just off the top of my head without any deep though so I may get some flack… It won’t hurt my feelings if you make a good case that I am mistaken.)
An efficient airport staffed with friendly and helpful workers with excellent public transportation to and from all population centers across the nation.
A society where all members, regardless of class or regional affiliation, hope for the success of their country and are willing to make personal sacrifices if necessary.
An easy and efficient recycling program that is supported by the vast majority of the population.
A government that encourages national unity rather than one which demonizes patriotism, discourages unifying nationalism and attempts to divide the population so as to play groups off against each other for short-term political gain.
A society that doesn’t glamorize ghetto and thug cultures and doesn’t continuously try to rationalize how they are valuable contributions to “diversity”.
Follow the link to read the rest.
Kushibo gives his own commentary on the list.
Foreign Policy has a piece on Hines Ward, Bonojit Hussain and President Obama’s visit to Korea, a nation that is apparently “grappling with its prejudices about race.”
Powerline Blog takes President Obama to task for bowing to world leaders, including, most recently, Emperor Akihito of Japan.
Personally, I don’t find President Obama bowing to be particularly offensive — I know he’s trying to show he appreciates the culture. Good on him for that: I haven’t read what the Japanese are saying about it, but I’m sure it went over well. Assuming he bows like that to Lee Myung-bak, I’m guessing it will play well here, too (caveat: this is NOT always the case). Whether, as the leader of what most people would agree is the senior partner in a bilateral alliance, he should be bowing is another issue.
UPDATE: At American Thinker, Thomas Lifson notes that Obama really could have used a crash course on Japanese bowing. He also links to photos of other world leaders greeting Emperor Akihito sans bow, including our very own President Lee Myung-bak.