Over porterhouse steak and cherry pie at a desert estate in California earlier this month, President Obama delivered a stern lecture to President Xi Jinping about China’s disputes with its neighbors. If it is going to be a rising power, he scolded, it needs to behave like one.You've got to wonder why "deliver[ing] a stern lecture" and "scold[ing]" equals "extending a hand."
Paragraph 3 has Obama trying "to lighten the mood" with Vladimir Putin "by joking about how age was depleting their athletic skills." Putin responded with what the NYT calls "a taut smile": "The president just wants to get me to relax." Including Putin in the self-deprecation that's supposed to be friendly and humorous is — unlike lecturing and scolding — fairly characterized as "extending a hand," but the point is, the article portrays Obama as ineffectual.
Scrolling toward the end:
Mr. Obama differs from his most recent predecessors, who made personal relationships with leaders the cornerstone of their foreign policies. The first George Bush moved gracefully in foreign capitals, while Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush related to fellow leaders as politicians, trying to understand their pressures and constituencies.But what is his style then? Steinberg doesn't say and one must struggle to read between the lines. I would tend to infer that Obama is relying on the way people are supposed to relate to him, which is to love or at least really like him. Others are supposed to respond to his uplifting presence.
“That’s not President Obama’s style,” said James B. Steinberg, Mr. Clinton’s deputy national security adviser and Mr. Obama’s deputy secretary of state.
The article ends, not with a conclusion about what Obama is doing and why it doesn't work, but with more detail on Putin:
Their first meeting was marked by a nearly hourlong lecture by Mr. Putin about all the ways the United States had offended Moscow. At their second, Mr. Putin kept Mr. Obama waiting 30 minutes.And there's a quote informing us that "Obama doesn’t really take kindly to being harangued," which is interesting, considering that the article began with the steak-and-cherry-pie anecdote about Obama lecturing Xi.