- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
Barack Obama’s emerging reputation is as a president who doesn’t put much stock in personal relationships with other world leaders, but he apparently told an Australian interviewer that he felt a particular bond with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd:
O’Brien says during his 20-minute interview with Mr Obama, the US president shed some light on his relationship with Australia’s Prime Minister.
"It was interesting. Diplomats and politicians say nice things about each other when they’re having international chats," O’Brien said.
But O’Brien says Mr Obama spoke candidly about their relationship – which has in the past been described as a "meeting of minds".
"He was quite expansive and quite genuine on what he saw as the commonality and connections between [he and Mr Rudd]. One of which was humility," O’Brien said.
Granted, Obama was playing to the Australian public, but he hasn’t exactly taken the bait on similar opportunities to say nice things about his relationship with, say, Gordon Brown.
Obama is also not the first U.S. president to talk up Rudd. Bill Clinton told FP last December that Rudd was a leader everyone should be paying attention to because he "has a thirst to know and figure out how to do things." At a bloggers’ round-table I went to with Clinton last year, he positively gushed about Rudd, calling him one of the smartest world leader’s on the scene today. The Australian PM has also reportedly wowed Chinese President Hu Jintao with his knowledge of Chinese.
Rudd doesn’t get the international press of a Sarkozy or a Lula, but he seems to be emerging as the world leader’s world leader.