“People of Berlin — people of the world — this is our moment. This is our time.”
What is he talking about? Time for what, exactly? Time for Obama round the clock, round the world, round and round the rhetoric goes, and where it stops…?
With Obama’s voice echoing from the TV set every time I switch on the news, I’ve tried to stay focused on some immediate projects involving the grand stew of corruption, cover-ups, petty sleaze, big scams, moral bankruptcy and gross failures going on at the chief seat of the “people of the world,” a.k.a. the United Nations — where so many of Obama’s collectivist visions are already well advanced in practice. But I’m a member of the media, and no one of that tribe can afford to by-pass what is evidently the hottest story ever: Barack Obama on world tour with the message that this is our time, this is the moment, we are the change we seek, change we can believe in, powered by hope and yes, we can!
OK, so maybe it does sound like something assembled out of word-kit refrigerator magnets. And yes, if a car dealer tried to sell me a vehicle “powered by hope,” I’d be nervous. But this is a presidential campaign; apparently different standards apply.
I am we are, as the opening lines of Obama’s Berlin speech reverberate yet again from the TV. And it strikes me us (we have to get used to referring to ourselves in the plural) — as the loop endlessly replays– that “powered by truth,” he couldn’t even get past the salutation without telling a come-hither lie:
“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.”
Oh, come on. Obama didn’t go to Berlin because he felt an abrupt personal itch to commune with a crowd of Germans. Neither was a hole discovered in the ozone over the Brandenburg Gate that only the speech of an Illinois Senator could fill. We, you, he, she, it, they and I all know it was a campaign stunt. And if that sounds so obvious that it’s not worth caviling over, then the least Obama could do is respect the intelligence of voters back home enough to skip the fiction.
But fiction — messianic fiction — is the element in which he swims. Kennedy and Reagan went to Berlin because they were the elected leaders of the United States, and it was a flashpoint in the mighty showdown between the U.S. and U.S.S.R that shaped the second half of the 20th century. Obama dropped in under the urgent imperative of needing some quick-fix foreign footage to bulk up his campaign resume. Thus did he announce:
“Now, the world will watch and remember what we do here — what we do with this moment.”
That might be a little confusing for those who thought the “moment” had already come in June (when he started to heal the earth) or January (during the early primaries). But on Obama-time, it is always “the moment” — which goes far to explain why he sees no contradictions in his own flip-flops. Whatever he said in previous moments, about Iraq, Iran, Jerusalem, his own associates, whatever, that was then, this is now, and anyway, it’s all “change.”
In his Berlin “moment,” Obama specified that the world will “remember what we do here.” The phrase carries an echo of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; except Lincoln, with his presidential war-time credentials, was rather more modest: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”
No such deference from Obama. But what exactly did he, or they, or “we” do that the world will remember? His German audience turned out some 200,000 strong (many, but not as many as the one million or so that some had predicted) gave the biggest cheers over the broadest hints that America might soon be wilting its way toward the local brand of peacenik, tree-hugger Euro-socialism, and then — they went home.
Obama, the we-in-chief of this worldly gathering, gave a history of the Berlin airlift in which he neglected to mention who flew the planes (the Americans and the British, including 70 airmen who gave their lives to save West Berlin — was that not worth remembering?). Instead, in Obama-world, the planes just sort of materialized. It was the “spirit” of “global commitment to progress” that “led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads.”
What else did Obama do during his moment in Berlin (apart from scrap a visit to wounded American troops)? He did a bang-up job rearranging some of those refrigerator magnets. In Germany, “we” are not simply “powered by hope,” but have become a people of “improbable hope“… “resolve“… “history” … “destiny” … and – yes — “this is the moment” when “we” (seeking the yes, we can, change we are) are all going to “stand as one,” “come together,” tear down walls, reduce carbon emissions, save the planet, “give our children back their future” and under the “burdens of global citizenship” join in “global partnership.”
OK. But what does that mean? If, at some moment in this global partnership of future and destiny, Iran, protected by Russian air defenses, uses a North Korean-engineered missile to land a nuclear bomb on Israel, what would he do? Phone Reverend Wright?
If there’s another catastrophic attack on America’s shores, what would he do? Calculate the carbon footprint?
Come to think of it, where does America itself figure on Obama’s list of polymorphous priorities?
In his narrative as a private oracle of global destiny, Obama offers this tid-bit to the German crowd: “I know my country has not perfected itself” …”We’ve made our share of mistakes”…”there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.” Fair enough. But what makes that all right? Well, it seems the prime redeeming factor, the first one Obama mentions, is all about himself: “But I also know how much I love America.” In his magnanimity, this citizen-of-the-world forgives America its imperfections, so maybe, in the thrill of “the moment,” America will be loved by all because everyone will be Obama.
The problem here isn’t lack of foreign-policy experience, but a gospel in which there is no clear distinction between I and we; no clear line between American presidential candidate and citizen-of-the-world (whatever that really means); no clear sense of the vital difference between the defense of individual freedom and the debilitating pursuit of collective utopia. History tells us the cost of this worldview can be colossal. But hey, it’s a rockin’ roadshow, and on we go, yes we can…improbable hope…change…destiny…this is the moment…no, this is the moment…and this… and this…this is our time…we are the change we seek…