Monday, November 16, 2009


Obama’s Tokyo speech, delivered on November 14, 2009 at a glittering downtown concert hall gave a select audience the chance to savor the president’s trademark rhetoric, read aloud in now-familiar endearing tones, accompanied by slightly jarring Janus-like sideward glances, eyes darting back and forth between twin teleprompters.

Designed to set an upbeat tone for the president’s Asia trip, it fell short of his much-hailed Cairo speech as paean to international amity, but served to convince East Asia, despite the late date of his visit, and two distracting wars on the other side of the continent, that the Pacific is somehow the centerpiece of his foreign policy. The pep talk might as well have been subtitled, “America still rules the Pacific.”

The best, if not the most sincere of the many tasty sound-bites offered up in his Yankee-will-not-go-home speech came early, almost haiku-like in brevity, befitting the recollection of a childhood memory. During a visit to the Amida Buddha in Kamakura with his mother, he was distracted by the green tea ice cream.