“The Speech” – Running for President of the World

Buzz, buzz, buzz. You can’t turn anywhere without Obama’s speech in Berlin being discussed. The kool-aid drinkers are orgasmic. The opposition is in spin mode. But what about reaction elsewhere?

One of the more interesting articles I found was that by Gerhard Spörl in Speigel Online. In his lede, he pretty well sums it all up:

Anyone who saw Barack Obama at Berlin’s Siegessäule on Thursday could recognize that this man will become the 44th president of the United States. He is more than ambitious — he wants to lay claim to become the president of the world.

Obviously there are those who will dispute whether or not he will become number 44, but there is little doubt, if you listened to the speech that Obama, as he always has, is again running for higher office. In fact, Spörl is right – the Berlin speech was his opening speech to become president of the world. If you haven’t see it, do so. It is hard to dispute.

Take for instance his treatment of 9/11 and his attempt to make it a world tragedy, what was essentially a US tragedy.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As Byron York points out, FactCheck.org has previously dealt with this:

Specifically in New York, a little under 3,000 people died in the attack on the World Trade Center. A year after the incident, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 2,726 death certificates had been issued and estimated that another 93 deaths had occurred, bringing the total to 2,819 persons.

Of those issued death certificates, 1 percent (27 people) were foreign nationals from eight different countries. Also, about 21 percent (568 people) were born outside of the U.S.

So why the fabrication? Who was he speaking too? And what was his political intent?

Well, these few paragraphs again support Spörl’s thesis that this is his world campaign tour:

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

Who is “we”? Well its not just America. And, as the last paragraph suggests, having previously been used in US campaign speeches (obviously containing the state in which he was campaigning in instead of Berlin and “America” instead of “the world”) it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t a campaign speech.

It is a very interesting speech, and it dazzled those it was intended to dazzle, Spörl being one of them. But it also seems to have left him uneasy.

However, he is also certain to demand the help of the Germans, Brits and French in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s not going to let NATO shirk its duty — and therein lie the perils of the engaging “we” and the catchy “Yes, we can.” Otherwise all these hard-nosed Europeans will hope and pray that the future President Obama isn’t really all that serious about the saving the world of tomorrow, the polar caps, Darfur and the poppy harvest over in Afghanistan.

A phenomenally European paragraph, wouldn’t you say? It goes to the heart of Europe’s cynical decadence. And it also points to the fact, that despite the love-fest with Obama at the moment, the primary reason for it isn’t necessarily Obama, but the fact he isn’t George Bush.

Europe, as Spörl indicates, has no real desire to “yes, we can” any of the topics Obama brought up in his bid to be president of the world. In fact, for the most part, they want nothing to do with his “will we’s”. They’ve demonstrated that with Bush and they’re certainly unlikely to change significantly simply because it is Obama asking.

Spörl concludes:

George W. Bush is yesterday, the Texas version of the arrogant world power. Obama is all about today — the “everybody really just wants to be brothers and save the world” utopia. As for us, we who sometimes admire and sometimes curse this somewhat anemic, pragmatic democracy, we will have to quickly get used to Barack Obama, the new leader of a lofty democracy that loves those big nice words — words that warm our hearts and alarm our minds.

Yup, Europe is still chasing utopia and isn’t any closer today to finding it than they’ve ever been – but they do love a dreamer and a dreamer’s words, no matter how implausible or impractical. Impractical because Europe has no intention of bestirring itself to do anything toward gaining the Obama utopia – those are the words that “alarm their minds”.

Let’s allow ourselves to be warmed today, by this man at the Victory Column. Then we’ll take a further look.

Ummm … do that. My guess is that “yes, we can” will quickly become “yes, you can” when that is finally all said and done.

Crossposted at QandO.

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