How clever my title. But Obama failed a test of nerve---or perhaps he thought it might not sell to the more sophisticated European crowd. After all, he is embarrassed for Americans and himself that we can only say merci beaucoup (Parlez-Vous Espanol, O Tu Juegas basketbol?) in Europe. He could not bring himself to tell the German crowd that they too were part of the ones "we have been waiting for". So I thought I would help out. Although Obama was certainly the one the crowd and the media was waiting for.
I think it is interesting to "live blog" his speech. Technically, I am "you tubing" his speech. If you have not seen the speech, you should. It is about 20-25 minutes. I like to watch it with the transcript open. You can even read this essay and follow along on "you tube" (what is this, homework?). If my commentary gets in the way just watch the speech, then read it. I think my commentary helps with interpreting the speech, but what a surprise that is.
Obama draws a massive audience on a continent where he has 70-75% of the popular vote as to who they want to be America's President. He is their ideal American President. But I would bet every penny I had he could not be elected to any office in Europe--but that is too long a topic for now. One reason is he does not speak French. So lets go have a look and a blogging good time. I think the CNN feed the best way to view it as one gets to see it divided in 3 parts--more tolerable. Part 1 - 2008/07/24, Part 2 , Part 3. The Transcript can be read along with it.
Obama gets a warm welcome as he walks behind the podium. But given the size of the crowd, it certainly was not crazy. Good solid warm welcome. Obama is not one to waste time so in the very first sentence the audacious one "channels" Kennedy when he thanks the ""citizens" of Berlin".Man, that is more embarrassing than being caught saying "merci beaucoup" in Parisian salons. The word "citizen" was a "subliminal" reference to Kennedy's closing line in 1963, "all free men........are citizens of Berlin". Before anyone objects, let me assure you that campaign public speeches are gone over carefully. They may be shallow and empty, but that is by design. They love symbolism. No comma, no turn of phrase, no word is there without a purpose. Who else uses the word "citizens"? Obama's campaign is blackboard screechingly obvious in everything they do.
He then keeps on with this irritating use of the word "citizen" as if to mask the obvious Kennedy channeling. A "proud" citizen of the US, a "fellow" citizen of the World---bla bla. Then, as if to refute Prime Minister Merkel's barely veiled accusation of "electioneering" he must insist he is not coming there as a candidate--but a "citizen". If you say so. I must comment on the use of the word "fellow". That may have slipped by the censors. I would have erased it. A "fellow traveler" refers to someone who sympathizes with communists. To be honest, I cannot see how they missed it. Unless they meant it as a deep cover reference to his leftist credentials. In any event, what is a "fellow citizen of the world"? The word citizen technically has no meaning outside of a legal definition. There are no such things as "citizens of the world". But he is obviously "anti-Bushing" to show he is not a "unilateralist".
Naturally no Obama speech or public appearance is complete without mentioning race. America's first post racial candidate for President spends a lot of time making sure people are "conscious" of his race. I really despise this. In Berlin he speaks the following "wink, wink" non-sequitur: "I know that I don't look like "the" Americans who have previously spoken in this great city". Jeez---I thought he was not speaking as a candidate for President. What "the" Americans was he referring to?
Then comes the one true free form moment in the entire speech. He first impressively and efficiently gets many messages in the next paragraph, by linking heartland America (his true patriotism), his improbable journey (his uniqueness), his African working man of the land internationalist credentials ("Kenyan goat herding father"), and of course his identification with the world's oppressed (grandfather a cook and a "domestic servant" to the British). I have to say, that was quite an accomplishment.
But on cue, in an almost Al Gore inspired moment, we hear a woman yodeling in the crowd after the goat reference. It is so loud, Obama has to acknowledge it. At first I do not get it, then realize it is a Muslim woman in the midst of an "ululation", which in this context was a celebratory cheer. He gives a frozen and forcely warm "inclusive" smile to scattered and muted applause. He was not going to blow off a Muslim woman at yet another Obama rally Muslim Women Sidelined at Obama Rally
The next 7 minutes of Part 1 mix a dreary reciting of 1948's Berlin Airlift and a truly dispicable characterization of 9/11 and America's historical role in the world. The crowd was struggling to stay awake. He also channeled Reagan with several "tear down this wall" references. He tried to create his own memorable phrase when he kept repeating 1948 Berlin mayor's phrase "People of the World, look at Berlin". He got a half hearted cheer on his first refrain. He also got a cheer on his "world as one" phrase when the "unulater" also made a return, though this time unacknowledged.
I do not know what is worse, the globalist sentimentality, or the hard core denial of reality. He says that in 1948 "Germans and Americans learned to work hard together and trust each other". I understand that if some one is not going to say something nice about another then it is reasonable to say nothing at all. But it is really just plain wrong to invert reality. He paints this image as if a bunch of families from the "heartland" were all hanging out in Berlin with German families in a post apocalypse Wooden Ships world. He may speak, as Gail Collins of the NY Times says, in that "great Baracky way" but this is stupid. We just defeated Germany in an act of total war. Trust had nothing to do with it. This was a US lead restructuring of Germany so in 1972 we would not be dealing with them again in World War III. End of story. By the time JFK and RWR arrived on the scene it was a different time. But not 1948. It was US soldiers and West Berlin residents. What's trust got to do with it?
Why is it that we cannot state the truth and just let it be? His reference to 9/11 was absolutely pathetic. When did euphemism and misstatement become the dominant form of speechmaking? He is correct in that the post Soviet world has brought new threats. Clinton never did get that, nor did Obama. But he says he does now, so lets believe him. But just who were those terrorists "who plotted in Hamburg, and trained in Kandahar and Karachi"? Some rejects from a "we are the world" Pepsi commercial? No,15 of the 18 were Saudi Nationals and all were part of Al Q'aeda. And they did not kill "thousands from all over the globe". They killed thousands of Americans and "hundreds" from all over the globe. But we must not be too American centric, it may offend the Europeans even more. They already hate us for "merci beaucoup".
As far as I am concerned, the next statement disqualifies this guy from the Presidency. He links, in a Squealer Al Gore inspired turn of phrase, global warming with terrorism. This post Soviet world we live in inspires terrorists and "as we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing" are shrinking coastlines, melting ice caps, and bringing draught to Kenya and Kansas. How can any thinking person stand listening to this? We know why of course. The cause is every media dunce (who have the time but are too lazy) who will not spend a minute of their own time understanding what is and what is not known (and knowable) about global warming. It is easier to read the IPCC or Gore's press releases and just accept it as gospel. This is distressing of course. These global warming catastrophes of course are not and will not happen. Nor is it the moral equivalent of Al Q'aeda inspired terrorism even if it were. What a pathetic example of moral equivalency run amok.
By the way, by minute 10, this crowd had enough of this dullard stuff. The crowd was beginning to look at their watches--("didn't they say Patrice was doing an encore?").
This part of Obama's speech introduces something we have seen before but not to this extent. Soldier "reporting for duty" Kerry (no wonder democrats love Obama) repeatedly obsessed about the idiot Bush's failure to capture Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora. Since then, the democratic party has had an insufferable phony obsession with Afghanistan. To burnish their warrior credentials, it has been insufficient to oppose the war in Iraq merely because it caused death ("Bush lied, thousands died") or because the world was supposedly against it. That would make democrats look like they have looked since the 1970s---against any war a republican administration was involved in. So it was convenient to look at a war that was already won and use that as the reason we should never have gone into Iraq.
The meme that was created is that Iraq was a "distraction" from the "real war" against terrorism. In fact, the NY Times since 2007 has written much on How a ‘Good War’ in Afghanistan Went Bad. By now the meme is so instilled in our minds it is easy to get the point. That moron Bush cannot even keep a good war won. Shockingly, we have not seen the NY Times Iraq headline about how a "bad war" went "good". But I am sure I must have just missed it. The amusing thing of course about the "good war" is that for the NY Times in October 2001 it was A Military Quagmire Remembered: Afghanistan as Vietnam. The war was 3 weeks old and they were already writing its obituary. But who cares really? It is all yesterday's news. Except it really is not.
This Afghanistan thing ("Obama cried and thousands fried") has gotten a head of steam and is the lead car in Obama's military credential building train. As Gail Collins reminds us, Obama is not against all war, he is only against "dumb wars". I do not know if that means he is for "smart wars", but given his unchecked desire to boogie in Afghanistan, I will assume he thinks Afghanistan is a "smart war".
So it has become a mantra of the democrats that Afghanistan is the "right war" and Obama is on top of it. What does Colonel Obama propose to his Berlin audience? He first gives a "this hurts me more than it hurts you" finger wagging at naughty Europe for not doing more. Of course he has to couch it in a never ending string of euphemisms such as "burdens of global citizenship"; and how "both" Americans and Europeans "have to do more" so we can advance our "common humanity"; have a "global commitment to progress"; and "dry up the well" of "extremism" to defeat "terror"---("Man, its getting freakin hot. I need another Berliner Kindl---when is Patrice coming back"?). But his bottom line is "the Afghan people need our troops and your troops to defeat the Taliban and Al Q' aeda" to help rebuild their nation". As an extra motivation the audience was also told we must "rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan and the traffickers who sell drugs on your street". That went over like 99 lead Luftballons.
I swear I saw something about Afghanistan like that before. It sounds so familiar. Didn't that moron Bush say something like that in 2001? I must be mistaken. Also, aren't there 36,000 US troops and 24,000 other NATO troops already heavy lifting the "burdens of global citizenship" in Afghanistan? So just what is Colonel Obama actually proposing? Beats me. I may have missed it, but so far I have not heard the name "Iraq" show up. That could be too much for this crowd to handle.
This part ends with an admonition to reject the "Cold War" mindset. I had thought the Soviet Union had already gone away after that last big US guy went to speak in Berlin ("what was his name? some amiable dunce named Reagan as I recall"). Whatever. Obama is strongly for "securing all loose nuclear materials" and "seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons". Hey man, me too. Can't we like, you know, just ask India, Pakistan, Russia, France, Israel, UK, China, and the US, just to, you know, like just get rid of their weapons?
I don't know about you guys, but this speech is making my ears hurt. He keeps saying "This is the Moment That......" something or other needs to happen. I guess he needs 2 "memorable lines" in this speech. McCain cannot get ahead of this guy? No, nor will he in all liklihood. But can't we just acknowledge that Obama is really just a rhetorical lightweight with a deep voice? At this point I am ready to concede victory to him if he would just shut up. "This is the moment": we shrink the oceans for the children, "build new bridges across the oceans"; reduce the carbon; "give our children the future"; "give hope to those left behind". Unbearable.
Of course no speech is complete without a New Dawn. In this New Dawn, Iraq makes an appearance and the crowd goes wild as he promises to "bring this war to a close". He does not explain why we should want to blow them away in Afghanistan but leave them high and dry in Iraq. Even the dying of boredom crowd is scratching their head on that one. I think the Institute for Logic in Amsterdam is offering a 1.0 million guilder prize for anyone who can square that circle. But of course we really do know why. Afghanistan is a smart war and Iraq is a dumb war. Plus, the decaying body of Osama Bin Laden is still hiding in Tora Bora. The Israelis and Palestinians made an appearance (was it my imagination or did I hear a very light dusting of "boos" when the word "Israel" was uttered?) as of course they seek a secure a lasting peace. I could swear I also read about that one before (Large Cover). I am quite sure Obama will figure that one out.
This is not only "the moment", but it is "our moment" too. After the retreat from Iraq woke up the dozing crowd, it started to get its second wind. Maybe CNN had the sound delayed or were jumping the gun on the picture, but the crowd went crazy over that Iranian blogger we need to protect. Obama of course asks the crowd if we will ever give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur. Excuse me, Mr Candidate sir? Isn't that what we should be asking you? What is the answer? He'll have to get back to us on that one. I have to admit, after hearing about the new dawn peace between the "Israelis and the Palestinians", it felt a wee bit uncomfortable to hear the words "never again" spoken in the former Nazi Capital---particularly since it was in reference to Darfur, not Israel. But if Obama had any historical sense at all he wouldn't be speaking in Berlin to begin with.
Then he goes off on this America is not perfect tangent. Something about no more torture too. Crowd could barely repress their glee. This is who America wants as their president? I missed the part about Europe not being perfect, I must have stepped away for a minute. Then he drones in a louder and louder voice how we made our share of mistakes, but we did have good intentions; and then he roars "I also know how much I love America".
Dear reader; I do not want to get overly nitpiky on you but......... I did not hear him tell us just "how much" that was. Did you? What I heard was that he knew "how much" it was. Language is a very funny thing. You have heard of the term freudian slip? Why is a simple "I love America" so difficult to say without the clumsy "I also know how much"... stuck in front of it? Where is Dr Freud when we need him?
Then, just when you thought the maximum of tedious, repetitive, ahistorical, unconciously anti-American and cliche driven drival had already been spoken, the speech is climaxed with a few imitation Martin Luther King lines, circa 1958. Something about how we all have to love each other regardless of race, country,religion bla, bla. Muslims of course are prominently featured but not Atheists. Those poor guys are the last political untouchables in America, even though they dominate Europe. How odd.
There was more about how in America we respect each others rights, and we all speak all these languages (what the heck happened to our embarrassing merci beaucoup limitation? Just who is speaking all these languages?). America of course was also a magnet to his father. Sorry folks, but this "my father" thing of his is deeply disturbing---to Obama. The man stuck around Mom and Barry for 2 years and then he was gone with the wind. When you think about it, how does the old man get a book, Dreams from My Father while his grandmother who raised him is reduced to a " A "Typical White Person"?! No one sees a potential problem with this?
Well, Obama closes with "an eye toward the future" ready to "remake the world once again". The crowd cheers and waits for the return of Patrice.
John McCain cannot find some way to DK this man? McCain is still trying to get the NY Times to publish his editorial, he has more important fish to fry.