Obama Has Done Europe as Youth


From Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:

I’d been feeling this way all through my stay in Europe. . . For three weeks I had traveled alone, down one side of the continent and up the other, by bus and train mostly, guidebook in hand. (page 301)

Obama relates experience he had in Europe on pages 301-304 of this book.
To be fair to Obama’s Senate and Campaign team, I asked them for a record of his travel since 2004.
But I do think that this helps fill out Obama’s European profile — though some will still argue that seeing Europe and wrangling (or even drinking tea) with its leaders are different sorts of experiences.
— Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: Thanks to TWN reader, Pontificator, for the reference.


15 comments on “Obama Has Done Europe as Youth

  1. Michael says:

    Either Clinton or Obama would be our first “affirmative action” president, and any objection to lack of experience, dubious associations, or outright dishonesty will be greeted with the standard “pooh-pooh and snide” of the generation conditioned to radical multiculturalism. This is identity politics, folks, gender or race- the country be damned. Obama’s religion of afrocentric socialism merely gives him the advantage with socialists of whatever hue. The real factor will be the weight and suasive value of media, and Obama seems positioned to buy the most talking heads.


  2. Amy says:

    I’ve filed this Salon article (describing Obama’s inaction on Senate foreign relations w/ Europe) away with the NY Times article debunking Mrs. Clinton’s experience claims. I’m supporting someone with real foreign policy credentials who does not make absurd/incorrect/inflammatory statements on foreign relations: Joe Biden.
    “Doubts about Barack Obama’s presidential credentials have crystallized during the past two weeks over his stewardship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs, which has convened no policy hearings since he took over as its chairman last January…
    …But why should those questions matter to Americans who consider Senate hearings so much useless verbiage? And why does anyone care whether and where a would-be president has traveled, on official or personal visits?
    The simple answer to the first question is that Senate hearings do not merely provide occasions for grandstanding as many voters may suspect, but fulfill a critical purpose in providing information and perspective to lawmakers. In the Senate, the foreign relations subcommittees have few direct legislative responsibilities, but they have traditionally gathered substantive research for the committee itself and for the rest of the Senate.
    That is why congressional hearings matter, and why a subcommittee chairmanship represents a significant responsibility. Knowledge is not just power but the fundamental requirement for either house of Congress to act as an equal of the executive branch in government.
    Should Obama wonder whether he ought to have bothered with his subcommittee, he could ask his friendly rival Joe Biden, D-Del., who chaired the Europe subcommittee for many years during the Cold War. Biden effectively exploited the chairmanship to transform himself from a junior member into one of the Senate’s most knowledgeable experts on arms control, nuclear weapons, European attitudes toward America and the Soviet Union, the European Union’s policies, and the role of NATO, which also comes under the subcommittee’s mandate. As a result, Biden starred in Senate hearings on the SALT II arms treaties and eventually established himself as a leading national voice on foreign policy.”


  3. Steve Clemons says:

    DLT — Thanks for the constructive criticism. I do appreciate it — and I think that homework should always be done.
    But you may unintentionally overstate what I actually said about Obama’s travel.
    Read this again:
    This is where I refer to the fact that Obama seems not to have been to Europe, “at least not recently”. That is not the same as saying he had never been there….but it was fueled by what his office provided. I left open the door that he might have been there earlier.
    If others misquoted me, then that is a problem. But your basic point that I should have checked his autobiographies is also true, and I wish I had.
    Best regards for the holiday and 2008,
    Steve Clemons


  4. DLT says:

    My point is when I read your post, I assumed that there was no mention of European travels in his autobiography. I assumed that you had done your homework. If I was writing a post questioning whether a candidate has ever been to Europe, his life story would be the first place I looked. I would guess that Obama writing 2 books is helping you understand his life. If you choose not to read the books, that should be stated as part of your blog entries.
    As you have stated, you asked for travel info since 2004. Obama’s staff satisfied your request.
    It just seems that you were the one that was lazy. You didn’t do a complete job, and now others are using your name in spreading falsehoods. This undermines your credibility.
    This is meant as constructive criticism.
    Happy New Year


  5. Steve Clemons says:

    DLT…I disagree with you. I asked all of the campaigns for their travel profiles. Obama’s office first gave me an incomplete response which they amended. I then asked the office for a response on the Europe question — which they still have not provided. A reporter of the Iowa Independent put it point blank to Obama that he had traveled extensively when younger – but he did not elaborate. I posted that Iowa Independent story as soon as it was up and asked why Obama’s staff did not have the information on his travel experience.
    I think I have been quite forthcoming on Obama’s travel profile and have posted everything his good staff — who are friends — have given me.
    His travel as a young person may be irrelevant in the minds of many….but I’m not going to make that judgment.
    Obama himself should be out there helping those of us chronicling his life and deeds to better understand him. He did not point to this short selection from the book — a reader found it.
    I can’t do anything about the journalstic excellence or laziness of others.
    best regards,
    Steve Clemons


  6. DLT says:

    I assumed that you had done some basic homework before writing your posts. This mistake is inexcusable, and negatively impacts your credibility. The shame of it all is that other bloggers are using your name to suggest that Obama has never been to Europe. They are not making corrections. What are you going to do?


  7. Nathan says:

    I can’t believe it: we’re honestly going to vote for a candidate, Obama, based predominately on…feelings. To hell with reality.
    As someone who has lived abroad my entire childhood and early adolescence (South America and South Asia), I find this stunning, especially during these critical times, to vote for a president based on image (Bill Richardson is a new “face” in terms of color and, unlike Obama, has actual experience and a record of strong leadership so according to this feelings rationale he should be president, right?).
    Just look at Obama’s voting record, his policies, and rhetoric and you’ll see that behind the hype is a candidate not suitable to be president either on a domestic (health care, social security) or international front (inflammatory Pakistan rhetoric; Iraq voting record and policies the same as Clinton’s).


  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Actually, Steve, I am not “tired of the issue”. In fact, everytime you mention Obama, it gives me an excuse to mention the fact that Obama has no respect for the Constitution, the rule of law, the checks and balances, or the will of the American people, as demonstrated by his telling comments on executive abuse and impeachment.
    I do, however, find the idea that Obama’s childhood travels have a relevency to his suitability for the Presidency amusing, and inane to the extreme.
    I was especially amazed to see someone, (“Imin Myjammies”), actually reinforcing that premise with their comment. I can only draw the conclusion that they really are in their jammies, and have no hope of getting out of them anytime soon. At least not until their release date.
    (Of course, before I typed this response, I made sure I got out of my bathrobe and into my jeans. I hate to give the trolls ammo.)


  9. steve Clemons says:

    POA — I have a responsibility to set the record straight on an issue that I raised earlier. You may be tired of the issue; I am actually as well — but still, I have to put out what I learned as I helped raise it as an issue before.
    best, steve clemons


  10. Imin Myjammies says:

    The point IS whether the experiences are meaningful. If I told you that Hillary’s experience as first lady led her to vote for the authorization of force in Iraq, you might conclude that she taken the wrong meaning from her experience. By contrast, if I told you that Obama’s experience abroad–however brief and languageless–led him to declare the Iraq invasion stupid, you might conclude that he had taken the correct meaning from his experience.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Comical really.
    This business of judging a candidate’s foreign policy expertise on the extent of their world travels is asinine to the extreme. The reasons are obvious. Not knowing the purpose of the travels, the results of the travels, who bore the costs of the travels, etc, really renders such knowledge useless. If some Congressional yahoo goes to Taiwan so he can get it on with a twelve year old virgin, should we now consider his adventure as qualifying him to be an expert on Taiwanese affairs?
    Or perhaps some all expense paid junket to Israel for a tour of the damage done by Palstinian fired rocketry should qualify some Israel firster yahoo to sign a bill sending billions of dollars more to Israel, despite the fact he was given a guided tour of one side of the equation?
    Really, it escapes my understanding why Steve is advancing such shallow criteria as being an indicator of a candidate’s foreign policy qualifications. Each individual trip would need to be examined as to motive, itinerary, results, financing, etc in order to draw any sort of conclusion as to whether or not it has had a plus positive influence on the candidate’s foreign policy expertise.
    And certainly travels as a youth are laughable in their total irrelevency. I went to Hawaii on one of the last flights of the prop driven Constellation as a young kid. If I remember right, it took us either eleven or fourteen hours to get there. Later in life, I lived above Honolulu in the St Lois Hieghts area. Guess what? I still can’t dance the hula. In fact, I remember more about the plane trip than I learned about the culture on my fist visit. And when I lived there, I became a great body surfer, smoked alot of Maui Wowie, and didn’t learn a damned thing about Hawaiian politics, culture, or history.
    Come on Steve. Enough already. Is Obama’s background so completely devoid of qualifications that you need to help him invent some?


  12. MarkL says:

    The point is not whether the experiences are meaningful, but whether they qualify him to conduct foreign policy more than HIllary, or Biden or Richardson, for that matter.
    They certainly do not; moreover, Obama’s mulish arrogance in insisting they do bodes ill for him—as candidate or President.
    Many of the people he derides for their foreign policy judgment have spent significantly more time overseas than he, know more languages, etc.


  13. Imin Myjammies says:

    Those who argue Obama’s childhood experiences abroad are meaningless are misguided. Unusual experiences during our formative years shape us as people–perhaps more than anything else. By contrast, adult experience is filtered through our preconceptions, and often doesn’t leave an impression. I am more intrigued by what Obama says about his youth than what Hillary says about her time as first lady.


  14. markL says:

    Steve, along these lines, let me recommend the following post by Eriposte, titled “Why I have more Foreign policy Experience than Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama”
    at http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/011607.php
    The following paragraph is devastating:
    “Back in the real world inhabited by people with a modicum of common sense, I am hoping that Sen. Obama’s wealth of “experience” has informed him that the Republicans will plaster these statements of his on the airwaves for months and months if he wins the Democratic nomination because they sound like an SNL or Jon Stewart parody – only they’re actual statements of his. Let me be very blunt. The GOP will use these childish and ill-considered statements that I would not even advise a high school kid to make in-jest, to paint Sen. Obama in the most negative way possible. For perspective, let me add that if Howard Dean was the one who had made these statements (and I’m sure he would not have), he would have been destroyed by the media yesterday. I understand that Sen. Obama wants to differentiate himself on the “experience” issue from Sen. Clinton – but there are far more intelligent ways to accomplish that goal. These statements are deeply embarrassing coming from someone who seeks to be President of the United States – so I would appreciate it very much if Sen. Obama uses a different approach to showcase his better “experience”, especially if he becomes the Democratic nominee for President.


  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    …”though some will still argue that seeing Europe and wrangling with its leaders are different sorts of experiences.”
    And you’d have to be an idiot NOT to make that argument.


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