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A Frustrated Obama Disappoints in Copenhagen

It seems that every time President Obama gives a major speech — up to and including his announcement of a troop surge in Afghanistan — pundits and observers call it his “best speech yet.” But that streak appears to have come to an end today as negative reviews of his address at the Copenhagen climate conference pour in.

The Guardian has rounded up these reactions, under the headline “Barack Obama’s speech disappoints and fuels frustration at Copenhagen.” Hugo Chavez called the address “ridiculous,” while Friends of the Earth said Obama “deeply disappointed not only those listening to his speech at the UN talks, he has disappointed the whole world.”

Obama himself “looked visibly frustrated as he appeared before world leaders,” the Guardian reports, and there was a “palpable sense of disappointment in the audience.”

A clear sign of Obama’s pessimism: He strayed from his prepared remarks and threw in a couple of glass-half-empty phrases. He planned to say, “I believe that the pieces of that accord *are now *clear,” but instead ad-libbed, “I believe that the pieces of that accord should now be clear,” notes David Corn. He also improvised a line to the effect that the negotiators’ “ability to take collective action is in doubt right now.”

Obama decided weeks ago that he would come to Copenhagen only if he thought his presence could help seal a deal. He might be second-guessing himself now.

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