Yes, the jury is still out on his economic program and what to do with Iran and Afghanistan (two nations that bedeviled Carter). However, there's one solid foreign relations arena where Obama has signaled that he doesn't give a damn -- human rights.
The Washington Post reports that, in a bow (kow-tow?) to China, Obama will not meet with the Dalai Lama when the Tibetan holy leader visits Washington this week. Instead, that meeting has been put off until Obama meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao next month. In one fell swoop, the signal is sent: "Talking about human rights is all well and good, but, well, when your banker says that he wants first dibs on your attention -- what are ya gonna do!?!?"
This will be the first time since 1991 that the Dalai will not meet with the President during a U.S. visit.
This raises all sorts of dark speculation: Was Obama's Dalai Lama dis the price the Chinese Government exacted from the U.S. during Tim Geithner's visit last summer when he tried to convince Beijing that America would not default on its debt obligations? Hmmm...
Whether that's the case or not, Obama has tossed aside Carter's "human rights-first" policy as much as he has George W. Bush's "freedom agenda." The Dalai Lama is more than just a religious leader: He embodies the struggle for universal human rights and religious freedom for millions.
This action by the Obama administration is about the bluntest form of global Realpolitik since the days of Nixon and Kissinger.
Conservatives may still call Obama another Carter. After his Dalai Lama move, liberals may cry, "If only."