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April 6th, 2009
10:57 AM ET

Ex-Bush speechwriter: Obama achieved little on overseas trip

David Frum, former speechwriter for President Bush, critiques President Obama's trip to Europe.
David Frum, former speechwriter for President Bush, critiques President Obama's trip to Europe.

President Obama visited Turkey today. It's the last leg of a trip that also took him to France, where he got NATO allies to share more responsibility for Afghanistan, and to London, where the leaders from around the world tackled the global financial crisis.

So how did the President do?

David Frum is a former presidential speechwriter and founder of He joined us live.


What do you think? Was President Obama's trip to Europe successful?

Filed under: Europe • Politics
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Paula

    Will be nice to travel and feel the respect that President Obama has left from his trip. I know these people just wish to be heard, and through listening comes understanding, and RESPECT, even if there is not complete argeement, the hand has been extended, and I am sure true appreciation.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Quen

    No, really, Bush had a speechwriter???

    April 7, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  3. Fran

    I don't feel more SAFE!
    I want Bush back!!!

    April 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  4. EC183

    Now we know who to blame for Bush's "speeches"

    April 7, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  5. EC183

    Frum states that Pres. Obama got zero and suggests that he will continue to do so. Maybe that's because other countries no longer trust the American government. I wonder why?

    April 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  6. EC183

    Frum the Bum should go back to writing speeches about how little he knows about anything.

    April 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  7. SED


    April 7, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  8. Leonid Ukraine

    I think that President Obama is a person who has been needed not only by The US but the rest world today. Time and again the Humanity and Global Culture needs such Man like the New Christ. This is a style of of our life- our soul. African American-humbled in the dust – is the Pdesident of the US!!! – a New Society of equal possibilities for all Men. Can You imagine this Event several years agou? Certainly : Not. Never! So my mind – President the US Barak Obama – It is the Pivot Not only the US History but the World Civilization. I can not agree with the opinion of former President Bush's speachwriter Mr Frum about his evaluation and his view on the 1st visit President Obama to Europe for London Summit G20 to put a halter on world ekonomic crisis.The US have to return its right to rein of the World Financil System by its Dollar. Leonid. Ukraine

    April 7, 2009 at 5:23 am |
  9. milehighguy

    Since this stirred up some discussion on the previous administrations....first, Clinton had the chance, but not the balls, to arrest Bin Laden BEFORE all this happened. He and others had several bombings to address the situation and he did nothing. 2nd, John Kerry and Teddy Kennedy, the bobsie twins from Taxachusetts, had access to FBI letters indicating an attack via Boston BEFORE the attack. Like Clinton, they did nothing and over 3000 americans died. Finally, Bush came in and had to clean the mess of 8 years of Clinton policies. Remember, Clinton was re-elected on the worst voter turn out in over 50 years!

    So, Bush did keep us safe and pissed off some of our enemies. Obama is bowing and apologizing to them! I hope Obama is successful, but I was in Ill when he was elected and he is a do nothing, non leader. So far, he has had no leadership in the financial policies and has expressed to the world he is an appeaser. I expect no solid accomplishments from his foreign policy.

    The MAJOR issue here is that Obama is not a leader and is also bowing to Reid and Pelosi. Can you believe we passed legislation that no one read?????

    I can only state that Bush and any republicans would not have gotten us in this mess. They are not perfect, but they do take care of you.

    nuff said..

    April 6, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  10. Quen

    Again, Bush had a speechwriter????

    April 6, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  11. jim

    RayS Baseball....Your wrong. We were attacked WHILE Bush was President...not because he was president. We were attacked because Bill Clinton cut military spending, he took away funding from the CIA and other defense spending. He made us vulnerable. And we paid the price. Those 19 terrorist came here long before BUSH.....Just wait and see...if we let our gaurd down we will pay again.

    30-40-50 years ago we were not concerned with HOW we thought the world PERCIEVED just that a perception. They know now that all that have to do is vebally assualt us and our feeling will be hurt and we will work harder to try andmake it all better for them. I could care less what some dude in france thinks of America...its not important to me. I will treat him with respect, But im not going to beg for his forgiveness. Again these same countries dont have any problem coming to America with there hands out......

    We need a STRONG president. One who makes us proud. We got here thru hard work and sacrafice. And it will take more of that to keep going.

    You dont get there by going to the G20 and apologizing for one apologized for those airplanes.....You dont go there and BOW to a Saudi King..........Sad........its all very sad.

    The framers of our constitution would be appalled.

    our problem as I see it is that the media and left want to water down everything that america once stood for ........ Relegion ......water it down.......Marriage.....Water it down..........Everything is becoming so that no one knows right from wrong anymore !

    April 6, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Quen

    Bush had a speechwriter????

    April 6, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  13. jim

    MIke in NJ....he BOWED TO A MUSLIM KING ! what he says is right on....Barak is ctering to MUSLIMS ! Its just a with it !

    And you libs love to give the advice...Get behind this president......I have watched for four years as you have tore down George Bush. Never had anything good to say about him. It was congress after all that took us to war.......UNITED ! Then (like Kerry) once you got there you and you party saw an opportunity to hang this war on bush.....but he didnt buy it because he had the NADS to stand up and make decisions based on principles that CONGRESS started. If it were up to you we would be running into a countryand leaving them in the middle of the night because you didnt want to see it cant demand respect ...... it earned !

    April 6, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  14. Mike in NJ.

    Tg – ask around, it seems people are starting to hate us less all over the world. That might help.

    April 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  15. jim

    HE BOWED to a Saudi KING ! BOWED ! He bent his knee and double over and bowed to a king of another nation !! Thats sickening. I never thought Iw ould see hte days we would do something like that. He is selling out AMERICA. I am tired of people talking about our great nation as if we are a bunch of cowrds. We are supposed to stand up and face these things head on. Without the US the rest f these countries would not exist. Look at the amount of money we supply them woth. The jobs we supply them with. THe aide we supply them with. And we get treated like DOGS by the media. i for one am sick and tired of being treated like the black sheep. Its time to tell them.....he its fine if we are that bad for the world we will quit participating. HE JUST LOST ANY RESPECT I HAD FOR HIM ! No way will I back up a president that BOWS to another country, especially one that sent 19 people in airplanes int our World Trade centers and killed 3000 of my neighboors !

    April 6, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  16. tg

    If Frum is wrong please let me know what Obama accomplished in his Europe trip. Besides making America look like a bunch of wimps.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:30 pm |
  17. Adam

    IS CNN ever going to change the people she interviews. I think its time to move across the border to Canada and watch BBC.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  18. Adam

    Well, Bush couldn't say one straight sentence. No wounder, it was Frum the speech writer.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  19. John Heynen

    David Frum: A Jew thinks that President Obama got nothing from his trip overseas because Jews do not understand what the word
    "humility" means. They did'nt accept it when Jesus who was a Jew himself tried to teach it 2000 years ago, and they have not gotten it now, and my feeling is they never will. President Obama is showing
    that the United States hopes to change it ways through humility, co-operation,empathy etc,etc instead of "My way or the highway" because we have always done it that way. Wake Up America . It won't work.
    John . from Canada.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  20. RaySBaseball

    Im tired of hearing how Bush kept this country safe because the fact of the matter is, he didnt keep this country safe on Sept 11th. It was after the fact that he actually made an effort to combat teorists. Obama has already changed the perception of this country and continues to make improvements not only in the US, but worldwide. The paranoia of us being no safer now, than the last 8 years is ridiculous.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:12 pm |
  21. Pat in Georgia

    CNN, please stop interviewing these green-eyed Republican noisemakers, they are so boring, I will have to change channels.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  22. Mike in NJ.

    Wow. Mr. Frum. Your comments are... unsettling, to put it politely.

    "...smooth, creamy and delicious caramel..."
    Please refrain from these kinds of "colorful" characterizations. You seem to be out of your league.

    "Barack Obama will never be more powerful than he is right now."
    WOW. This presumes that he is an 'empty shirt' and that none of his ideas will bear any fruit. I submit that success brings respect. And that his ACTIONS will amplify his IMAGE. Just because Mr. Bush's approval went ever downhill after 9/11, does not mean that this man will share his fate. Mr. Bush's actions bore bad fruit; I think Mr. Obama's policies will meet a different outcome. And that success will allow him the ability to do more things, unlike your suggestion.

    "...if you make a distinctively Muslim appeal that you will find yourself agreeing to a definition of what it means to be Muslim that comes from some of the more strident people in the Islamic world. "

    Um, nice euphemistic clustertrap there. Sounds like code for: "People might think you're Muslim, and on THEIR side." Again, you seem out of your element here. Which is ironic for a speechwriter.

    "And the question that Americans have to confront is is the investment Barack Obama is making in Afghanistan - is it too big or too little? "
    GREAT. Excellent way to 'have your cake and eat it too". So you're saying he's committing too much of the military in this effort... but that there is the risk that it's not enough. Way to appeal to all ends of the political spectrum while taking no stance. So Mr. Obama fails by pulling out, he fails if it's not enough, and he also fails if it is a costly 'win'. Only a 'total, easy success' is going to work for you?

    Can you please remember 2 things: 1: THIS is the fight we SHOULD have fought ALL ALONG, except for the previous bungler who pulled back just at the WRONG time, and 2: If we fail THIS engagement, it is a REAL setback, not a manufactured one. Your former employer took his Eye Off The Ball, and now the next guy has to clean up his colossal mess.

    "It would take a massive undertaking to improve the Afghan police force."
    Kind of like the one we undertook in Iraq, 2 years too late?

    I wish the Republican Punditristas would please go home and figure out a direction for their party. And please stop this backhanded 'support' of YOUR President, and get behind him. Like was demanded SO often of the previous officeholder.

    April 6, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  23. milehighguy

    We have had 2 years of a do nothing congress and senate and now we have a do nothing president. He is constantly on the move and not accomplishing anything of substance. To coin a phrase, he is "all fluff and no stuff". This trip got him out of DC and was a dog and pony show for Europe and the world.

    I have been all over the world and let me tell you, we have nothing to apologize for! The first rule of negotiating is to not show fear. Well, Obama showed no fear, but it is tough to get what you want when you are apologizing to everyone.


    April 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  24. George McManus

    I hope you did not pay Frum for his comments – His negative spin is amazing. Obama was a critical success for the UNited States of America, Obama was a critical success for the rest of the world.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:56 pm |
  25. Nori

    Obama is the best thing that could have happened to us after the dumb and dumber twosome of Dubya and the unconscionable Cheney!
    Obama demonstrates and conveys the American spirit with intelligence and goodwill. Bush speech writer....? Who cares??.....Bush and Cheney were not only an embarrassment but, also a detriment to our country in so many ways.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  26. Michael

    Correction we a re a counrty that is full of compassion, not bullies, got a little excited there.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  27. elisabeth hughes

    Who cares about what David Frum thinks – he is so yesterday and he worked for someone who really managed to screw up the US and the rest of the world...why even ask his opinion on Obama's trip??

    April 6, 2009 at 3:49 pm |
  28. Michael

    I really find it amazing how Frum and others can sit there and say what the president isn't doing, when the last one did nothing, The president has done more in 60 days then Bush did his whole administration .Countries stopped looking at us as leaders because of the way people like you think, we are a country of compassion, and bullies. Hey heres a ideal for you pick up a weapon and go fight for this country with the real men and women of this country then maybe your opinion will mean something.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm |
  29. cecilia

    I am so sick and tired and angry with everyone from the Bush Administration – Rush and all the others just waiting in line for the Obama Administration to fail.
    How can you possibly have the nerve to say anything. Are all of you just plain nuts. I worried and prayed through 8 years of Bush and you can't give this Administration 90 days.? if you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem – so do a lot of us a favor and don't say anything.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:37 pm |
  30. Robin

    What are you kidding?

    President Obama set out on his trip to reform the American image. He has immediately begun to repair the damage caused by President Bush.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  31. Bob Long

    David Frum either has too much time on his hands or he's looking for an analysis job somewhere. In either case, since he was one of Bushes speech writers, and therefore was responsible for doing most of what Bush thought of as "thinking", we have him to thank for the misconceptions adhered to for eight years during the Bush administration. Every point he makes is precisely the opposite of the truth.

    Obama did get movement out of the Europeans on Afghanistan. Don't sneeze at soldiers for protection during the up-coming election or civilian contributions. Those things cost millions of dollars and free up the US military.

    Obama changed the image of America abroad before he even went over. Noting past American (Bush) mistakes is just being honest and lets one's audience know things are going to be different. But he was right, in any case. Bush squander every ounce of good feeling their was for America after 9/11.

    And finally, Obama recognizes Europe pumps far more into its economies on a delay basis than the US. The stimulus he did get, the one trillion dollars for the World Bank is going to save a lot of economies (like Hungary, for instance) that would be bankrupt without it. In terms of a political move, beyond the economics it was frankly brilliant. Who could turn down helping the worst off countries in the world who are suffering in greater than us in this recession? And, it will come back to us as their economies again begin to expand. The problem with David Frum was the problem with the neo-con/Bush mentality. They saw no further than the end of their noses.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:29 pm |
  32. Rodney

    Obama is much like Jimmy Carter. He speaks well and preaches ideals of a beautiful world. But just like Carter, he won't really get anything done. Getting concensus with Europeans, Russians, Turks, Chinese, or any of those countries will never happen, and if they do, it won't be to America's best interest. Holding hands with the rest of the world will never benefit us. Why? Because those countries have their best interest at heart, and always will. There is a reason America has been the greatest nation since WW II, and it wasn't due to pandering to other countries.

    Say what you will about Bush, he knew how to get his agenda pushed through with the rest of the world, whether you agreed with it or not. What we need is someone in between, with Obama's ideas (but more realistic) and Bush's moxy, to really get America back to where it belongs.

    April 6, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  33. Mary Duncan

    David Frum needs to look at the big picture...Obama is making steady gains at home and abroad and will continue to do so if he continues to focus on HELPING people who are in need in our country and others as well with his excellent plans and strategic moves...he knows how to play chess...unlike Bush and his speechwriters!!

    April 6, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  34. JOYCE

    David Frum is the last person on earth to be commenting on Obama at all. He is so jaded it reeks!!!!

    April 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm |
  35. Vipperdo

    I am completely confused as to why the media continues to seek the opinion of the worst leaders this country has ever had. They blew us off the map, bankrupted our economy, put our elderly in peril, and I want to hear Frum's or any other R's opinion because ...

    As for the success or failure of the President, it is time for us to smell the coffee and get realistic. Of course he did not succeed, the goals are extremely ambitious and why should any country trust US policy now? He first has to change the perception held by others of the US, and this is a task he cannot do alone. But, he came away as being a positive and not a negative at the G20 summit. This, given the state of things, is success. And, we all need to start reframing our definition of success because the prior paradigm has been obliterated by the last administration. If Obama can get anything done, that works, in the next few years, it will be amazing. Let's stop treating him like a god, placing unrealistic expectations on him, and let him do the best that he can as an one man fighting for what's left of our country.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  36. Ron in Westminster, CO

    I don't know that David Frum's comments on Obama's trip carry much weight, after all Dubyah's foreign policy agenda was... well where was it?

    I'm proud to have President Obama representing our nation abroad and I'm confident that he'll do an outstanding job of not only restoring the image of the United States abroad but that he will in fact take our relationships with other nations to a new higher level that will have positive results for Americans and people abroad.

    Listening, Learning then Leading in that order are the hallmarks of good statesmanship

    April 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  37. Patrick

    Who cares what Frum or any other former Bush flunkie thinks about anything? Obama's first trip established good will and proved to the the rest of the world that we finally have an intelligent, thoughtful, savvy leader at the helm. That good will can translate into positive negotiations and results rather than the Cowboy kick em' diplomacy from Bush and Frum.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  38. Oman

    I would like to ask Mr. Frum about Bush's achievements with European leaders when he was president. In any negotiation, one sets forth high expectations during the first meeting. Given Obama is following in the shadows of Bush's failure in diplomacy, he has to set a baseline of demands and regain the European trust before the EU leaders agree to any American requests.
    Obviously Frum is just trying miserably to discredit Obama's attempt to forge a new alliance with Europe.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  39. Neil

    Who got more attention on the trip the President or his wife?

    April 6, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  40. bill sandwick

    As a speech writer, you'd think that Frum might be a thinking man, but again it is so obvious he's just like a little puppy, following The Great Leader( and Pepper) Bush!! President Obama will not change the planet overnight, but I do know that for the first time in 8 years, I'm proud when I see our president with other world leaders.And as for you, CNN, you're slipping from being a news agency to becoming a mouthpiece for the GOP

    April 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  41. Shelton Brown

    Wow... The speech writer for G.W. A GED grad could have done better.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  42. Scott

    I know David Frum and to be honest his judgement on most matters of substance is sorely lacking – this interview is just another example of X-Bush cronies trying to reheat the ultra-conservative agenda after they run the country into the ground following years of willfull neglect. To listen to David spew this type of nonsense is further proof of the failed policies and agenda of the bankrupt ideology.

    Give it up David, stay put in Toronto, and get a real life – finally.


    April 6, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  43. Tom

    The man is a complete disgrace to this country and the office.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  44. Jo Jo

    The fact that President Obama received any type of help from foreign countries is a step in the right direction. After all, he’s following Bush! Wouldn’t you be very cautious after Bush? I’m sure as foreign leaders become more familiar with President Obama, they will eventually see he’s much more trustworthy than the previous administration. In order to work more cohesively with others, you have to establish a foundation and I believe that is exactly what was accomplished on this first overseas trip. Why would anyone admit to being Bush’s speechwriter is beyond me? That alone diminishes his credibility

    April 6, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  45. Hugh Chatfield

    Profound thanks are due to the conservative zealots who, with their ludicrous ranting, continue to prove the value of the 1st Amendment.

    April 6, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  46. Gabe DiCerbo

    No wonder bush hired frum, he's as much of an idiot as bush is. President Obama is trying to fix 8 years of bushism in 100 days, it just isn't going to happen. bush destroyed our economy, our reputation in the world community, committed criminal acts and lied to congress at least 91 times that we were told about, how many more that we weren't? They wanted to impeach President Clinton for lying once and who did he hurt besides his wife while bush has been directly involved with starting an illegal war and killing how american youths and destroying how many more thousands? frum needs to go hunting with cheney along with bush and just maybe we will be lucky and cheney will be drunk again and mistake bush and frum as little birds. Well one can hope can't they?

    April 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  47. SDN

    Mr. Frum has, apparently, been peering into the same crystal ball that the Bush administration used for guidance. He's the only person in a blue suit that I have ever seen that has the ability to see into the future.

    "An American president's first request is always going to be his most honored request. So, if he is not able to get what he wants financially or in terms of troops now, he's not going do better six months from now or a year from now. He's going to do worse."

    Interesting – ridiculous, but interesting.

    And what was the part about "too little being too much, or too much being too little, blah, blah, blah"? Think maybe his rudder is stuck in a starboard loop.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  48. skip

    Frum is a well-documented homophobic has-been from Canada; and now that he's exhausted people's patience for right-wing nonesense in that country, he's decided to focus any remaining gullible Americans, post-Bush. Hey, the man's gotta eat.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm |
  49. Charles Moffett

    With all due respect to the former speechwriter, President Obama moved the ball downfield. The process of diplomacy is cumulative. Undoing the mess created by Mr. Frum's former employers is going to take years. Before Mr. Frum and former members of the Bush administration lead with their mouths, I think they should accept responsibility for the mess they left behind.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  50. Linda in Florida

    Why do we care what Frum thinks or says? Frum is just another bitter, ex-Bushie, who like the rest of them, cannot believe that our new President has done so much good in such a short time, including the perception of the rest of the world about the US!

    April 6, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  51. Baffled

    How could David Frum's opinion matter in any way, shape or form?

    Frum was one of the prime enablers of the destruction that Bush wrought over the last eight years, and now that Obama has to spend his first hundred days and more just repairing the damage done, Frum thinks anyone with a brain is listening to him? Absurd.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  52. David

    Typical republican response. Of course they'll bring some failed clown or another out of Karl Rove's closet to bash everything and anything obama does. its the only card they have to play.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  53. Doug

    Bush profoundly weakened our country in so many ways, both domestically and in terms of our influence abroad, and this will take some time to overcome. That said, Obama is off to a good start.

    April 6, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  54. Tom

    The arrogance of the Bush administration has left a foul taste in most intelligent people of the entire world. I'm sure that no one following the "W" could do any better than what was accomplished on this trip. Comparing Bush to a jalapeño pepper well that's just not fair to the pepper. Skunkweed is a closer comparison.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  55. Jennifer

    I think the world finds it refreshing that we finally have a President who can speak intelligently and coherently without a teleprompter. Say what you will – he's getting out there and extending a hand/philosophy.

    As for the interview with Bush's former speech writer: red alert – your prejudice is coming through loud and clear.

    If I had been a speech writer for Bush, I wouldn't mention it.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  56. keeth

    Frum is not the president, Frum does not decide policy, Frum did not go to Europe with Obama, Frum doesn't work in this administration, Frum is hardly an impartial voice regarding Obama. Apparently someone forgot to tell Frum that Bush is no longer in office, and that he should pack up and go home.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  57. Dan Nelson

    It looks like Obama has brought many nations together on the global recession but as far as the war on terror it still looks like the United States will be the ones taking the brunt from these terrorists. The EU should be putting much more effort in battling these terrorists after all they are closer and more vulnerable from terrorists attacks.

    April 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  58. pointofview

    The problem is Obama is weakening America at home and in the perception abroad. The very fact he wants the US to join the EU Union should scare the pants of people.

    April 6, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  59. Fred Robinson

    Hi Carol:

    This President is a BMW. The former was a used GM pickup truck.

    How is the coffee that is served on the set?


    April 6, 2009 at 11:07 am |