President Obama’s last-minute decision to postpone his homecoming to Indonesia and a trip to Australia expands the list of friendly countries–which include France, the U.K. and most of Eastern Europe–that have received a presidential snub. Yet in putting off his Australia trip, Obama will also miss an opportunity to commune with the politician whom he most closely resembles.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, like Obama, symbolizes a distinct shift in his country’s politics. Replacing the rough-hewn but long-serving Liberal Party leader John Howard, Rudd offered sophisticated Australians a better reflection of their own savoir faire, much as Obama restored the self-image of America’s Bush-wracked educated classes. Like Obama, Rudd is widely seen as smart and worldly as well as perhaps a bit rude and arrogant.