Friday, July 25, 2008

He Went; They Saw; I Yawned

Granted I'm immune in the main to the Obamaesque rhetorical flourishes, but even so I was rather disappointed in the Speech in Germany, although for a moment I was reaching for Left Behind, which I don't own. Passages like the following sent a frisson up my spine:

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

"Oh-oh," I said to myself, "one world government." My last Anti-Christ theory had Obama pegged as the evil one, but now- just for a moment- the thought rose in brain. This is how it happens, the rise of a single government....then....the mark of the beast. And I'm just a lapsed Catholic. Restored to sanity, I tried to pick out the phrase, the money quote. Alas, the closest I came was the "citizen of the world" bit. Who knew the Obama man was so continental?

In part, it's because here in the States we've heard quite a bit of it before, and in similar constructions. There's the hyperbole about saving the planet, which, if threatened, does not seem to be in imminent danger of implosion. There's the grandiosity: not content to address the Beriliners, or even the Germans, he piggybacks onto the historic calls of West Berlin to "People of the World." Then he goes in for one of his favorite devices: repetition. Varying between "people of the world" and "look at Berlin," he really hits his stride. He finishes off with this insistence on "remaking the world." I guess the United States is not world enough for him.

It's very nice that he drew 200,000 plus Germans. But he's not running in Germany. And that constraint limited his speech. Think back, the other two famous Americans who gave the touchstone speeches were sitting presidents. As Merkel indicated when the campaign wanted to have the event at the Brandenburg gate, it would be like a candidate for German Prime Minister holding a rally at the Statue of Liberty.

Call me, crazy, but it doesn't seem wise to campaign in Europe for the American Presidency. We might like them, but we don't necessarily want to be like them.

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