American Elephants

An Ego That Knows No Borders by The Elephant's Child

Obama came to Berlin. He came in his campaign plane with the Obama logo on the tail and the Obama slogan painted on the side, with his entourage, and his television anchors, and his crew of worshipful reporters. This visit, unlike his stops in the Middle East, was not paid for by the taxpayers, but by his campaign.

Speaking to an enthralled audience of “tens of thousands of elated Europeans” who just happened to turn up to hear him, he said “Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen — a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.” Not as a candidate? Then why the plane, the logo, the posters, the fliers, etc., etc., And “citizen of the world”? What the heck is that? Nobody is a “citizen of the world”. A citizen, by definition, belongs to a state. And it’s wise to remember which one.

He throws in a line about his race, as if it were something new and different, ignoring the fact that the faces of American foreign policy for 8 years have been African-American ones.

After some fuzzy history (Obama has trouble with history), he apologizes for his country: “I know my country has not perfected itself”, “reject torture and stand for the rule of law” Apologizes to Germans? The history I recall had us going to Europe twice to rescue Europe from the Germans.

Many platitudes, promises to solve all the world’s problems with German help, bring a new dawn to the Middle East, defeat terrorism, end racism, defeat AIDS, end antisemitism, religious bigotry, class envy, and nationalism.

He also promised to save the planet from global warming. “As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya”. Oops! But he went on in that vein: “This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.”

Sigh. The ice caps in the Arctic are not melting, the coastlines are not shrinking perceptibly, the Midwest has been suffering more from floods than drought. The oceans are not rising unless you consider centimeters significant, and storms come and go completely unaffected by global warming. Even Obama in his Messiah role cannot cause the storms to cease, the ocean to cease its rise, and drought to end. If he becomes President, he won’t have the slightest control of the factories in Beijing. Anyway, it quit warming about ten years ago, and has been cooling in the last five years. Obama will probably take credit for stopping the warming if he finds out.

This is theater. Obama is playing a presidential role to convince the electorate that he can be “presidential”. From speeches with a fake presidential seal on the podium, to an embarrassing request to speak at the Brandenburg Gate, to the entourage, he is playing president. It’s one way to address a thin resume.

It is apparently successful with a gullible and adoring press, but I’m not sure it is playing so well at home. Obama apparently believes that people will not question the meaning of his words, which is slight; wonder why he is campaigning for the presidency in Europe when he hasn’t even been nominated yet; or wonder why his big European campaign event is in Germany.

Oh wait, we do know why his big event was in Berlin. It’s because Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy made important speeches in Berlin. What they said there has been long remembered. I looked for the significant words, the memorable words in this speech, but I couldn’t find them. The only thing notable about this speech was the messianic language (some borrowed from FDR and Lincoln) and the pretentious and arrogant demands. Obama’s really not in any position to be telling the Germans what they must do.

When the curtain comes down on this campaign tour, will the Europeans love us again? This is our moment, this is our time. Didn’t amount to much.

8 Comments so far
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The citizen of the world comment goes back to Western Berlins most distinguished mayor Ernst Reuter who did everything in his power to keep the morals of Western Berliners as a bulkwark against communism high. It was thus a historical reference to this important Berlin figure (but History is your and not Barack’s strength, right?). In addition of course citizen literally expresses belonging to a certain national commnity, citizen of the world thus expresses the idea of transcending that identity in a coorperative spirit. But hey, who cares about expressing complex ideas. If its against the dictionary its stupid…


Comment by Sander

Oh and Obama did not at any point tell German’s what they must do, except maybe that he told them that they should continue to cooperate in Afghanistan and must be ready to play a more responsible role there. He mainly expressed his vision of U.S. foreign policy.


Comment by Sander

Obviously Obama knows who he is: perhaps the next US president but certainly a peacemaker.


Comment by helenl

I’m afraid not a peacemaker, but an appeaser. And appeasers are the ones who usually lead us into war. Obama’s convictions change according to the audience that he addresses. When speaking to a Jewish group, he talks about an undivided Jerusalem as capital of Israel. In front of a non-Jewish audience, he was only speaking of barbed wire divisions in Jerusalem. He loves and honors the troops, yet skips out on a visit to hospitalized soldiers in favor of sightseeing in Berlin. Very short on character and judgment.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

Yes, you are right, appeasers led us into war… let’s sit back and think about American Wars… the Revolutionary war (a true war of appeasement), the War of 1812 (some call it the second war of Independence and James Madison was President then…what did he ever give us?… screw the Bill of Rights), the Mexican-American War (conquering land = appeasement, right? Plus, elephants hate Texas..) the Civil War (yeah, Lincoln is the WORST), the Spanish American War (imperialism and the Monroe Doctrine are all about caving into others’ demands, not spreading our influence, no?), WWI (Wilson only joined after US ships were attacked), WWII (Pearl Harbor and FDR?), Korean and Vietnam Wars (Who cares about the spread of Communism, let’s fight some really popular wars!), Desert Storm (you aren’t accusing Daddy Bush of appeasement, are you?), Iraq War (wait who are we appeasing to now?)


Comment by Bill

I know Reuter referred to “the people of the world”, but I cannot find the text of his speech to verify the “citizen of the world”. And Obama quoted Reuter nicely, though he got a little mixed up in his history. It was not German cooperation that saved Berlin, but stubborn American ingenuity — the split-second timing of the constant flow of aircraft, cutting construction equipment apart to be welded back together again in Berlin, finding constant ways to cut down on weight and time. It wasn’t a “shadow” that spread across Eastern Europe, it was the Red Army. And it isn’t a “Cold War mindset of the past” that keeps us from working with Russia, but Russia’s authoritarian rule and the use of their oil and gas as a weapon to bully their neighbors. Sorry, I thought it a sappy speech, pandering unnecessarily to a German audience. Americans do not need to pander to Germans. And someone who tries to make points by praising the beleaguered citizens of Berlin is a little hypocritical when he wants to remove the protection of US troops from the beleagered citizens of Baghdad.

The numbers and duties of German troops in Afghanistan have been a ticklish problem for the President and the State Department to work out with Angela Merkel. It would have been wiser of Obama to avoid the subject, but as pretend President, couldn’t resist.

I don’t believe I said that all our wars were caused by appeasers. Nor was that my intent. World War II was certainly caused by appeasers. Germany was very weak when they took the Sudetenland and Poland, and could have been stopped but for all the dithering. We were weak and unprepared in 1941, when we could have had a stronger military, or at least not be dependent on Brewster Buffaloes.

George H.W. Bush was trying to rescue and build up the United Nations when he turned the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and consequently obeyed the UN mandate and went no further. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and it’s easy to make pronouncements looking back — but who knows how it would have gone had we followed my splendid advice. Very possibly no better at all.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

I fail to see why anyone is moved by his speeches. They’re a string of seeminly non-sensical cliches and platitudes. I listen to him speak and I never come away with any sort of “how” he plans to reach these ubiquitous, lofty, goals.


Comment by The Gentle Cricket

the prophet enoch spoke of oceans rising..Enoch parables 66-1..”And the Lord of Spirits gave commandment to the angels who were going forth, that they should not cause the waters to rise but should hold them 3 in check; for those angels were over the powers of the waters”….do you think maybe obama is one of these angels….if so he is the one that fell from heaven..


Comment by ruth

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