Capitals across Europe have swooned for Barack Obama, but over two days in Moscow, the president got a reception more suited to a traveling salesman than a rock star. News coverage was sparse, crowds were nowhere to be seen, and even the students he addressed at an economics university came off unimpressed. "We don’t really understand why Obama is such a star," one graduate told the New York Times.
White House aides said they were surprised by the lack of attention to the visit: the Russian edition of Judge Judy took precedence over his speech, and even Michelle Obama failed to attract any press coverage. Some have mentioned race as a factor, but exhaustion with politics may have been the largest factor. "It is a jaded political culture that has had a very hard experience," said a Clinton speechwriter. "Some degree of cynicism about high-minded ideals is a natural outcome of that."