Obama's Europe Trip: Risks And Benefits

The press has a pretty good idea of Barack Obama's overseas schedule, although we've been asked to keep the details private for the moment and we don't know when he's going to Iraq and Afghanistan. Right now, swarms of Democratic advance folks are in Europe or traveling there, and the pressure on them to produce flawless events will be acute.

Obama's trip to Europe will be a huge event...maybe as big as his convention, maybe as big as a debate. Sheer curiosity will translate into enormous crowds, even as most of Obama's events will be small and pooled. The European press will go ga-ga, uncritically. If Obama does speak at the Brandenburg gate -- and it's unclear whether he will at this point -- you could envision a crowd of more than 200,000 watching and cheering him.

A few years ago, it might not have been the best political move for a candidate to be seen as receiving the adulation of world... especially France and Germany. Not today: given how important it is to many independents and Republicans and Democrats that America's standing in the world is restored, Obama could well benefit domestically from a raucous reception overseas.

There are potential drawbacks: gaffes will be magnified through the lens of a voracious, excited press corps. His trip has to be flawless, message-wise, tone-wise and in its execution. If Obama appears presumptuous and arrogant and not humble, there's a good bet that we'll see that reflected in the coverage back home. Likewise if any European (or Israeli) leader lectures him about unilateral diplomacy with Iran.

At least until he sits down with Gen. Petraeus ... will he speak truth to power? -- the benefits surely outweigh the risks....