> I will say flatly that I do not care about our perception in the eyes of the 'world community', I merely care about the reality of our situation. \
You really should. The perception the world has of America has a great and fundamental impact on the "reality of our situation". We do not exist in a vacuum, and the worse we appear in the world's eyes, the more difficult things can become.
> I think anyone other than Bush would have 'elevated our standing' with the rest of the world much the same as Obama (bonus 'progressive' points if not white or male).
This is pretty much nonsense. McCain & Palin would not have elevated our standing in global perceptions, but eroded it further instead. World perception does not have to do with whether or not the President is white or male, either. It is built atop the content of ideas and the policies we follow. This is a rather ridiculously cynical view.
> I don't consider much of the rest of the world such a great place that we should be concerned about appeasing them with politics they get to muse about and we have to live with.
Nobody said anything of the sort. Hate to break it to you, though--as much as you don't consider the rest of the world such a great place that is worth being mindful of in our political decision-making, they feel exactly the same way. And they far outnumber us, friend. I think the world would quite unanimously declare the same sentiment:
We don't consider America such a great place that we should be concerned about appeasing it with politics that it gets to muse about and we all have to live with.
Please explain your first statement. I have trouble understanding how simply electing Obama made things easier for us in regards to world politics - that is a very vague and subjective statement, and I haven't seen anything happen in the last four years that only happened because of improved world perception, other than maybe that laughable Nobel Peace Prize. Perhaps we experienced far less fallout over intervening in Libya than we would have under a Republican president.
In regards to your second statement, you are likely correct. In comparison to McCain/Palin, Obama definitely improved the perception, if not the reality. And I am cynical, because that is the only reasonable response to American politics at this point.
And in regards to the third, so be it. They shouldn't have to worry about how we perceive their leaders. If they do, it's only because we have the world's most powerful military and both Democrat and Republican alike have shown willingness to use it.