Obama In Berlin

Reprehensible is the word I would use. Here's a take from Amy Holmes at The Corner:

Berlin, Paris, Kalamazoo. He could have given this speech anywhere. Obama goes to Berlin and winds up in Bangor. But maybe that was the point. Unlike JFK, Clinton, or Reagan, Obama's purpose in Berlin was essentially self-serving. The great cause at stake was his own campaign - not the threat of Communism, or adapting to a post-Communist world. The great purpose to which Obama was asking his Berlin audience to rally was his own presidential aspirations. Pretty thin, not the stuff of history books. And so far the American public agrees. All of the hoopla leading up to this moment has been in the press - not in the polling. Obama has yet to see a Berlin bounce. Maybe the visuals will help. The text was forgettable.


There's more to it, though. While JFK and Reagan were there to talk about the threat of Communism in Europe and said to those who favored Communism "let them come to Berlin" and demanded "tear down this wall," the underlying message in Obama's appearance in Berlin was that there is another threat that faces the continent: America. Sure, sure he said he was a proud American citizen and all that, but what he was there to do was impress upon his fellow "world citizens" that he represents a new day: the end of America exceptionalism.

Bottom line: the end of American exceptionalism would be akin to a second dark age. Call it arrogance if you must, but nothing of consequence happens on planet Earth unless it's done by America. America has liberated billions of people, it has fed billions of people, it has enriched billions of people. The last thing the world needs is for us to sit on the bench, but this is the goal of the Obama-nation.

MORE: Everyone knows that JFK made a speech in Berlin and said "Ich bin ein Berliner," but I would guess that few knew exactly why he said it. Below is his speech made at the Berlin Wall in 1963. These are the words of a true stateman and lover of liberty (emphasis mark are mine):


I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished Mayor, who has symbolized throughout the world the fighting spirit of West Berlin. And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished Chancellor, who for so many years has committed Germany to democracy and freedom and progress, and to come here in the company of my fellow American, General Clay, who has been in this city during its great moments of crisis and will come again if ever needed.

Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was "civis Romanus sum." Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is "Ich bin ein Berliner."

I appreciate my interpreter translating my German!

There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the Free World and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it's true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. "La├čt sie nach Berlin kommen." Let them come to Berlin! Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect, but we have never had to put a wall up to keep our people in, to prevent them from leaving us. I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic, who are far distant from you, that they take the greatest pride that they have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of the last eighteen years. I know of no town, no city, that has been besieged for eighteen years that still lives with the vitality and the force and the hope and the determination of the city of West Berlin.

While the wall is the most obvious and vivid demonstration of the failures of the Communist system, for all the world to see, we take no satisfaction in it. For it is, as your Mayor has said, an offense not only against history but an offense against humanity, separating families, dividing husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and dividing a people who wish to be joined together.

What is true of this city is true of Germany--real, lasting peace in Europe can never be assured as long as one German out of four is denied the elementary right of free men, and that is to make a free choice. In eighteen years of peace and good faith, this generation of Germans has earned the right to be free, including the right to unite their families and their nation in lasting peace, with goodwill to all people. You live in a defended island of freedom, but your life is part of the main. So let me ask you, as I close, to lift your eyes beyond the dangers of today to the hopes of tomorrow, beyond the freedom merely of this city of Berlin, or your country of Germany, to the advance of freedom everywhere, beyond the wall to the day of peace with justice, beyond yourselves and ourselves to all mankind.

Freedom is indivisible, and when one man is enslaved, all are not free. When all are free, then we can look forward to that day when this city will be joined as one, and this country, and this great Continent of Europe, in a peaceful and hopeful globe. When that day finally comes, as it will, the people of West Berlin can take sober satisfaction in the fact that they were in the front lines for almost two decades.

All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words "Ich bin ein Berliner."


- John F. Kennedy