But evidence is mounting that Obama is already losing ground among
key Arab and Muslim audiences that cannot understand why, given his
promise of change, he has not spoken out. Arab commentators and
editorialists say there is growing disappointment at Obama’s detachment
– and that his failure to distance himself from George Bush’s strongly
pro-Israeli stance is encouraging the belief that he either shares
Bush’s bias or simply does not care.
The Al-Jazeera satellite
television station recently broadcast footage of Obama on holiday in
Hawaii, wearing shorts and playing golf, juxtaposed with scenes of
bloodshed and mayhem in Gaza. Its report criticising "the deafening
silence from the Obama team" suggested Obama is losing a battle of
perceptions among Muslims that he may not realise has even begun.
Here is more. Under one interpretation of the signaling game, these observers might have inferred that the very timing of the Israeli attack implies Obama’s disapproval or at least an uncertain reaction; the Israelis could have waited for the Obama Presidency but they did not. Under another interpretation, signals aren’t just about information but signals also show caring and solidarity as valued for reasons not directly related to the initial information. Message recipients care about who sends the signal, and how the signal is sent, not just the revelation of the underlying information. Under this second interpretation (relatively neglected by economic theory, I might add, though not by Robin Hanson), it is much harder for things to go well.