John McCain's Diplomatic Preparations

Ed: the following post will test whether re-enabling comments was a good idea...)

Jonathan Martin picks up the news that Sen. John McCain is headed overseas again, this time to Colombia, in early July.

Independent, non-aligned, weakly partisan voters -- and Democrats and Republicans -- all agree the next president must restore America's standing in the world.

Some Obama supporters believe that the mere election of their candidate will serve as a collective American apology for the sins of the Bush Administration and that the world will greet Obama's presidency as if he were a liberator. Maybe. Even ... probably.

But it's John McCain who's doing the actual work right now. He goes to Europe; runs op-eds in the FT and Le Monde and has productive discussions with everyone from Sarkozy to Gordon Brown to David Cameron (i.e., re-establishing good relationships with our allies)— and now, with a stalled Colombian trade agreement, he’s going to Colombia and doing the same.

When the news here in the states focuses on Obama and foreign leaders, it can be about the universal acclamation he gets from Kenyans -- and there's something to that. But more often that not, it's about the way he'll relate to the bad folks. Or it's Obama getting completely ripped for his stance on free trade by everyone from Stephen Harper to David Milliband to Peter Mandelson to the Colobumian government.

Now, I really do not doubt that if and when a pre-presidential Obama begins to tour the world, the response will be rapturous and the crowds will prove too immense for even the Secret Service's meticulous planning. Last week's international newspaper headlines prove that Obama's candidacy is sparking immense and hopeful curiosity across the world. But the fact is that right now, McCain's the diplomat. At the very least, give him this: if he is, as commander in chief, going to stay the course in Iraq, he's going to need more allies than the US currently has.

When McCain goes before voters in the fall, he'll be able to list the countries he visited as a candidate and the relationships he's begun to build. Work, stuff, doing, action. What Obama will say is TBD.