As President Obama makes his first trip overseas since leading his party to a massive defeat in the midterms, there has been no shortage of “lame duck” stories in the U.S. and international media. Politico headlined its story on the trip “Lame Duck Swims to Asia,” and China’s Global Times treated its readers to a picture of a rejected, weakened leader.It would, however, be a very serious mistake for Asians and others attending the summit to count President Obama out. The U.S. has a presidential, not a parliamentary system, and Presidents have a lot of power—especially in foreign affairs—that is independent of Congress. President Eisenhower didn’t control Congress for six of the eight years of his presidency; few historians think of him as a weak President. Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush: they were all able to make their mark on foreign affairs despite opposition power in Congress.While the end of President Obama’s term is only two years away, he is anything but irrelevant in world affairs. When it comes to Asia in particular—the foreign policy arena in which President Obama’s policies are closest to American mainstream thinking and where many of his initiatives enjoy bipartisan support—President Obama speaks for the United States. It is unlikely that his successor, whoever that may be, will come to Asia with a fundamentally different perspective than the one President Obama brings to the region. American political society may be divided and our politics may be contentious, but our approach to Asia policy, by and large, is national and not partisan.During much of the Obama presidency the American political pendulum had swung away from global engagement, reflecting national frustration over the wars in the Middle East and a sense that both Europe and Asia were in a relatively stable condition. But after President Obama was re-elected in 2012. the pendulum began to swing the other way. As the situation in the Middle East deteriorated, as Russia attacked Ukraine, and as tensions between China and its neighbors grew, Americans, elite or otherwise, began to rethink. To the extent that President Obama is out of touch with American thinking today, it is because he has moved more slowly than the country at large toward a re-energized focus on foreign policy. He is, slowly and haltingly, moving toward a more active and engaged approach to foreign affairs; the country is tugging on the leash urging him to go faster, not dragging its heels to slow him down.The fact that, even in the period of maximum U.S. withdrawal, President Obama wanted to increase U.S. focus on Asia is something the President’s fellow world leaders at APEC should keep in mind. President Obama’s successor, whether a Republican or Democrat, will be more likely to increase America’s defense and diplomatic presence in Asia than to cut back. When President Obama speaks, Asian leaders should pay attention. He is speaking for the most powerful country on earth, and his belief that America’s vital interests are deeply engaged in the peaceful development of a prosperous Asia is one of the deepest and most widely shared convictions among Americans of all parties and persuasions.