Is Obama's PR Message In Russia Working?

Your Gaggler is in the press pool today, and I can now report first hand: the Russians really aren't that excited about President Obama. Almost every trip, foreign and domestic, Obama has been the subject of curious, often cheering crowds. On domestic trips, some people even show up to boo. Not here. On the ride to and from Vladamir Putin's house in Western Moscow, most Russians on the street this morning regarded Obama's motorcade with total indifference. No cheering. No booing. It's been a whole lot of, well, nothing. The motorcade route is usually sprinkled with dozens and dozens of people taking photos of Obama and his entourage as his limo passes. This morning, your Gaggler counted a grand total of four.

This may not be purely about Obama. As we blogged yesterday, the U.S. isn't exactly popular with the Russians right now. That's in part why Obama has dedicated a huge part of his day to working PR. He delivered what White House officials described as a major speech on U.S./Russian relations at a university here in Moscow. The message: the U.S. and Russia don't need to be antagonistic to each other in order for both to succeed. "The pursuit of power is no longer a zero-sum game—progress must be shared," Obama declared. "No one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century on its own, nor dictate its terms to the world." As the White House previewed last week, the speech was reassurances of how the U.S. respects Russia, its heritage and its sovereignty. The problem for Obama: Most Russian TV stations apparently didn't carry the speech, which means the impact of his words will be more limited than the White House had hoped.