Obama's 'apology tour' critics focus on optics instead of actions

Obama's 'Apology Tour' Critics Focus on Optics Instead of Actions

If you thought President Obama was going to sneak out of the White House without getting some criticism, his Asia trip is here to prove you wrong.

In what's probably one of his last big foreign trips as president, Obama is visiting Vietnam and Hiroshima, Japan; at some point, he will give a speech in the first city that ever had a nuke dropped on it, where he'll address a world without nuclear weapons. His critics have already thrown the trip under the "apology tour" label that's plagued the president since 2009.

"This guy's middle name is apology, so when he goes there, people are going to perceive this as an apology," Fox News' Jesse Watters said on "Outnumbered."

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The idea of an Obama apology tour started during the very first year of his presidency, stemming from his use of words like "arrogance" to describe American actions in the past.

It persisted through his second election cycle. During 2012 presidential debate his opponent, Mitt Romney, lamented "you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations."

But the critique is less about the substance and actions of the trip and more about the optics.

The Obama administration has made it clear the president won't actually be saying "sorry" when he visits Hiroshima, and the entire Asia visit is about a shift to a stronger relationship with Asian countries. And so far, actions lend credence to that argument.

Obama himself has called the idea of an apology tour "the biggest whopper that's been told during the course of" his 2012 campaign.

During the trip, Obama announced the lifting of an embargo on selling weapons to Vietnam, which helps distance the country from Russian influence while at the same time combating China's control of the region.

See some of the statements detractors have criticized:

Obama Apology Tour
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Obama's 'apology tour' critics focus on optics instead of actions
In an interview with Al Arabiya on January 27, 2009, the president said, "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."

At a town hall in Strasbourg on April 3, 2009, the president said, "In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift ... there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

While addressing Turkey's Parliament in Ankara, on April 6, 2009, the president said, "Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans."

(ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

During a visit to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on April 20, 2009, the president said, "Don't be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we've made some mistakes. That's how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States."

REUTERS/Jason Reed 

During a speech on national security at the National Archives on May 21, 2009, the president said, "Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions."

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

During a speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, the president said. "9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country.  The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals."

REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic


Obama's decision to visit Hiroshima — paired with anti-nuclear weapon rhetoric — could be largely aimed at nearby North Korea, which has been flexing its nuclear weapons program for months on end.

Let's not forget economic interests. The Trans-Pacific Partnership that involves both Vietnam and Japan could be dead in the water fairly soon if Congress doesn't approve it. All three remaining presidential candidates oppose the deal.

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