By contrast, several of Obama’s predecessors often referred to their grand plans for the region during their U.N. speeches. But Obama, unlike former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, has not proposed regional trade or investment plans with Latin America.
I've noted the problem with his logic before. Why are so many people so intensely focused on "grand plans"? There is no reason to assume that such plans are good for Latin America, and are not necessarily even good for the United States. George W. Bush had a grand economic plan that was so blind to Latin American realities that it soon died an ignominious death.
Oppenheimer seems to be saying that failure doesn't really matter. What matters is a symbolic gesture of Latin America's "importance," which in his opinion cannot be cultivated on a daily basis on the ground but rather must be based on a big announcement with big ideas. That the idea is poorly thought out, can never work, or is viewed with skepticism in Latin America, matters much less.