Barack Obama majored in international relations at Columbia and was well regarded in some of classes (although he won't release his transcript). That is worth keeping in mind as you wonder whether he really is this stupid or just thinks we are. Here is his latest YouTube classic making the rounds, as excerpted by Jim Geraghty:
"Strong countries and strong Presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khrushchev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela – these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union.
Well, yes they are. Geraghty and others make the key point - that Afghanistan also seemed pretty small in 2001, until Bin Ladin used it as a base from which to launch an attack that killed 3,000 Americans.
But let me mock Obama from a different direction - why does he suppose people metaphorically reference the 800 pound gorilla in the room, or the elephant in the room, as opposed to a mouse or a squirrel? He is the IR major and I am sure his guess would be interesting, but my impression is that people pay attention to things that are simply too big to ignore. Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan correctly considered the Soviet Union and China far too big to isolate diplomatically and economically in an effective way. China also looked to be a useful counterweight to the Soviet Union in 1970.
As a bonus question, one might wonder what Obama thinks is meant by the phrase "Only Nixon could go to China"? Hints are offered at Wikipedia, among scholars, and even in the pop culture. Well, here is a spoiler from Wikipedia:
Because Nixon had an undisputed reputation of being a staunch anti-Communist, he was largely immune to any criticism of being "soft on Communism" by figures on the right of American politics. The phrase "Nixon going to China" is thus an analogy which refers to the unique ability that hardline politicians have to challenge political taboos and third rail issues. Only a proven hardline right-wing politician can succeed in challenging a conservative sacred cow, and vice versa for left-wingers.
I daresay Reagan had as solid an anti-Communist reputation as Nixon. Does Obama think he has foreign policy credibility and anti-terror credentials analogous to Nixon and Reagan? When did he acquire that credibility - was it as a schoolboy living in Indonesia, or later as a street organizer in Chicago? Or even later, as a colleague of unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers on the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge?
And why does Obama suppose that, regardless of his own high self-regard, the rest of America and the world also sees him in the same clear light as Nixon or Reagan? Kennedy didn't have quite the same fearsome reputation - does Obama think Kennedy's meeting with Krushchev went well?
I'm not sure why a Dem candidate for President wants to insist he is taking his cues from Nixon and Reagan, but let me say this. I knew Nixon and Reagan; I voted for Reagan; and Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan.