Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama in Germany: Ich Bin Ein Beginner!

The New York Times notes that Barack Obama borrowed liberally from America's greatest presidents in his speech in Berlin last week, and that's not mentioning The Bard:

Any presidential hopeful introducing himself to a German-speaking crowd might be tempted to draw on the eloquence of Shakespeare, the wisdom of Lincoln, the idealism of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the youthful energy of John F. Kennedy or the grit of Ronald Reagan. Better yet: why not invoke them all? This is what Senator Barack Obama seems to have done in the speech he gave on Thursday before a crowd of 200,000 in the Tiergarten. Here are the candences and phrases, along with Mr. Obama's echoes [at the link].
Obama's been compared favorably - or at least, credibly - to Abraham Lincoln, but if his copycat turn in Berlin is the measure, he can't touch America's greatest leader:

History is Watching

Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Pa., Nov. 19, 1863. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

Barack Obama: Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment.

Obama: "Ich bin ein beginner"

Andrew Ferguson, sums it up as nothing more than ethereal fluff:

Floating along on a cloud of metaphor and generality allows Obama to do what he wants to do, in the Berlin speech and elsewhere....

To pump a little vigor into his limp sentiments, Obama attached them to a hypnotic refrain. "This is the moment," he said in Berlin, repeatedly. But where's the urgency come from? What's the rush? In the long train of platitudes he suggested no discrete, definable policy that needed to be adopted urgently, beyond his call to unity, which isn't a policy but an aspiration. You get the idea that the urgency doesn't arise from an assessment of reality but from a rhetorical need. He's got to keep the folks on their toes somehow.

Obama couldn't come to Berlin and deliver a speech full of portent, as Reagan and Kennedy did before him, and as his publicists suggested he might. For all the talk about this being our time and us being the people, Obama shows no sign of really believing we live in portentous times. This is surely part of his appeal. It's not surprising that when he came to Berlin and said nothing at all, none of his admirers seemed disappointed...
Image Credit: Michelle Malkin

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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