The Daily Blog

May 27

Obama Europe Trip: President Visiting Ireland, England, France And Poland, Will Attend G8.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Weaving together strands of pomp, policy and summitry, President Barack Obama’s weeklong European tour is all about tending to old friends in the Western alliance and securing their help with daunting challenges, from the political upheaval in the Mideast and North Africa to the protracted war in Afghanistan.

Obama’s eighth trip to Europe as president, with a quick-moving itinerary that dips into four countries in six days, unfolds against the backdrop of the NATO-led bombing campaign in Libya and stubborn economic weakness on both sides of the Atlantic.

A priority for the president and his allies will be to more clearly define the West’s role in promoting stability and democracy in the Arab world without being overly meddlesome and within tight financial limitations.

Obama, who departs late Sunday, will visit Ireland, England, France and Poland. Each is weathering an economic downturn that has forced European nations to adopt strict austerity measures. The U.S. has pushed its national debt to the limit, and Obama and congressional Republicans are in contentious talks about how steeply to cut spending.

But never mind all that, at least for a moment.

A highlight of Obama’s opening stop in Ireland will be a feel-good pilgrimage to the hamlet of Moneygall, where America’s first black president will explore his Irish – yes, Irish – roots, and most likely raise a pint.

It turns out that Falmouth Kearney, who immigrated to the United States in 1850 at the age of 19, is the great great great grandfather of Obama on his white, Kansas-born mother’s side. Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, will connect in Moneygall with distant relatives from the Irish branch of his family tree.

Michael Collins, the Irish ambassador to the United States, says the president’s visit will be “a golden moment” for a country that’s been on the economic ropes after its boom time. The visit is sure to play well at home for Obama – make that O’bama – as he heads into re-election season after being pushed to great lengths simply to prove he was born on U.S. soil.