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In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows the expression on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

Why Laotians Think You’re Lazy

View Point

Should the president be criticizing Americans abroad?

By Jim Ray

It was one of the most memorable moments of the Cold War, and it was all captured on the then-novel medium of color videotape and subsequently broadcast all over the world. The place was the American National Exhibition at Moscow’s Sokolniki Park, the date was July 24, 1959, and the participants were the Soviet Union’s Premier Nikita Khrushchev and U.S. Vice President (later President) Richard Nixon.

In the spirited, impromptu exchange that became known as the “Kitchen Debate,” Khrushchev tried every which way to intimidate Nixon. But the vice president stood his ground as he extolled the American way of life with a rousing defense of capitalism, freedom, and the American worker. “The shrewd Khrushchev,” wrote reporter William Safire, “came away from his personal duel of words with Nixon persuaded that the advocate of capitalism was not just tough-minded but strong-willed.”

President Obama has been traveling overseas and talking about Americans lately, but some of what he’s been saying hasn’t been nearly so complimentary. In fact, “lazy” is the term he’s chosen to describe Americans to the world. Is this any way for a president to speak of his citizens?

In a visit to Laos earlier this month to participate in a summit of Southeast Asia nations, President Obama participated in a town hall meeting featuring members of a group called the Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative.

The term “lazy” first came up in the context of environmentalism. “Usually when you see the environment destroyed, it’s not because it’s necessary for development,” President Obama said. “It’s usually because we’re being lazy and we’re not being as creative as we could be about how to do it in a smarter, more sustainable way.”

Then, the president said Americans are lazy because they don’t demonstrate a sufficient intellectual interest in other countries. “I believe that the United States is and can be a great force for good in the world. But because we're such a big country, we haven't always had to know about other parts of the world. If you are in Laos, you need to know about Thailand and China and Cambodia, because you're a small country and they’re right next door and you need to know who they are. If you're in the United States, sometimes you can feel lazy and think we're so big we don't have to really know anything about other people.”

These types of comments—speaking less than favorably of America or Americans while in other lands—have been a repeating theme of the current presidency. They are a break from the long-held standard, not only of presidents, but politicians and most citizens, to refrain from disparaging their homeland while on foreign soil.

President Obama has taken a different route on what many have termed his “apology tours.” In France, he said, “America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive” in its failure to “appreciate Europe.” Speaking to Al Arabiya, an Arab news agency, he said, “we sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect.” And in Turkey, the president asserted that “the United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history.”

Some of these statements might be appropriate for an “in-house” debate, but when they are delivered overseas by the de facto leader of the free world, they carry enormous implications. One wonders why the president couldn’t have focused on all the good America does in the world, rather than opining to the Laotians that America’s citizens are lazy.

Richard Nixon, in contrast, had an abiding disgust for those who disagreed with him and virtually obsessed about taking down those on his “enemies list.” Yet those grievances were far from his mind when he was dealing with the leader of the “evil empire” in Khrushchev. Once Nixon left U.S. airspace, it was America first, and “us versus them.”

Some might say President Obama is simply “speaking the truth to his neighbor.” (Ephesians 4:29) Others would note that Ecclesiastes proclaims there is a time and place for everything—and Laos is not the place to be lambasting one’s countrymen. Either way, it’s doubtful the president’s comments did anything to improve America’s image in Asia.


• Pray that America will continue to be a force for good around the world.
• Pray for wisdom for America’s leaders in building relations with other nations.

Jim Ray is a writer, fundraiser and consultant. He and his wife Stacey have two children and reside in Nashville, TN.


Member Comments

The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
  1. Mary says:

    I can’t say that any of this surprises me. I never got the impression that Mr. Obama thought very much about our country in the first place. When he campaigned for “change” he really meant change. He has shown nothing but distain for our Constitution since he has been in office and that he speaks ill of American citizens when he’s abroad is just par for the course with him. I really think he wanted to change America into some other country and not America. How he has managed to pull the wool over so many people’s eyes and been a two term president I’ll never know.

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