Roger’s Rules

How do you spell "cringe-making"? (Hint: it begins "Obama in Berlin")

The next time you go to Berlin, why don’t you see if Obamania will work for you. Tell the “tens of thousands of elated Europeans” who have mysteriously shown up to hear you that you are addressing them “not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen, a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.” Being “elated,” your audience will not pause to point out that no one, not even Barack Obama, is a “citizen of the world,” because a citizen by definition is someone who owes loyalty to and enjoys the protection of a specific state. Nor will the elated Europeans depart from their elation long enough to wonder why they had congregated in their vast multitude to hear someone who’s announced claim on them is only that he is a “proud citizen of the United States.” Generally, of course, the combination of pride and the United States is something that makes Europeans grumpy, not elated.

As it happens, I tend to prefer my Europeans grumpy rather than elated. This is particularly true when the Europeans in question are German. An elated German, especially many elated Germans in one room together, makes me nervous. They hear someone promise, as Obama just promised in his Berlin speech, to “remake the world” and hearken after “our destiny” and their elation becomes a kind of fever. No wonder Obama has called for a “civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the United States military: following your destiny and remaking the world are projects  likely to require a lot of help.

When I first encountered Obama’s rhetoric, my chief feeling was one of mild nausea. Over time, feelings of alarm have outstripped the nausea: Obama’s clichés, I realized, were not simply, not only, empty platitudes. They were also menacing adumbrations of a megalomaniac narcissist who really did believe he was a man of destiny and wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation about embarking on the effort to “remake the world.”

All that is worrisome enough. Combined with the utter lack of critical perspective—rather, combined with the stunning adulation–accorded to Obama by the so-called mainstream press and you have a recipe for disaster.

Has the mainstream press really been uncritical, indeed adulatory? Here I resort to the “a picture is worth a thousand words” motif, and offer this widely reproduced image of the Man of Destiny surrounded by some of his acolytes–I mean upstanding members of the Fourth Estate:

Obama surrounded by the press