WASHINGTON – In his election-night speech from San Antonio, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama called for America to rely more on diplomacy and less on bluster, characterizing recent U.S. policy as “bullying.”
In the context of a blistering critique of U.S. policy in Iraq, Obama said: “It’s the same course that continues to divide and isolate America from the world by substituting bluster and bullying for direct diplomacy.”
Obama did not specify where America was acting in the bully role.
Obama, and his wife, Michelle, have been criticized by some Republicans for what appears to be increasingly harsh rhetoric critical of both America’s domestic and foreign affairs.
Mrs. Obama first raised controversy by saying she was proud of her country for the first time in her adult life. Later, in a New Yorker profile, she was quoted in a stump speech made throughout South Carolina as characterizing America as “just downright mean.”
She said the country is divided, life is not good, the people are “guided by fear” and cynicism.
“We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day,” she told churchgoers in that primary state. “Folks are just jammed up, and it’s gotten worse over my lifetime.”
She went on to complain that college is too expensive, schools are not doing the job, health care is out of reach and pensions are disappearing.
“Let me tell you, don’t get sick in America!” she exclaimed.
Mrs. Obama set off a national firestorm with comments she made recently at a Milwaukee rally: “What we have learned over the past year is that hope is making a comeback. And let me tell you something – for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”