When German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with President Obama this week in Washington, symbols will outweigh substance, even more than they usually do in international politics. The rationale for the visit, after all, is explicitly symbolic: the president will bestow the Medal of Freedom on the chancellor. Yet the predictable photo ops will just add to the countless images both the chancellor and the president have already generated during recent travels—Merkel in Asia and Obama in Europe. Indeed, the American press has been regaling the public with shots of the president lifting a pint in a pub in Moneygall, Ireland and slamming ping pong with British Prime Minister David Cameron. For this president, who is less interested in foreign policy than any predecessor in modern history, images like these are what will have to suffice as diplomacy. His agenda includes ratcheting down American influence overseas, so he can focus on social engineering at home. No other president has relinquished international leadership and power so casually.