Paul Rahe: Obama’s gestures, part 5

Professor Paul Rahe writes to comment on President Obama’s remarks on the occasion of the festivities in Berlin yesterday:

In yesterday’s post, I failed to anticipate Barack Obama’s cleverness. He did appear in Berlin — metaphysically, if not physically. He did not honor our allies with his presence. He kept his distance and descended briefly, like a god, from the ether.
In his speech he made no mention of Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Mikhail Gorbachev, or the Soviet Union, and he was tellingly silent about Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. The only American he quoted was John Kennedy, the President who acquiesced in and privately favored the building of the wall.
Even more to the point, Obama proved unable to refrain from injecting his own autobiography into the event. You see, walls fell down when he was elected President.
It was perfectly appropriate that someone sound this theme at the time of Obama’s inauguration. It was, indeed, an important event when the first American of African decent was elected to the presidency.
But Barack Obama seems to think his presidency as important a milestone as the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the world of the narcissist, everything that happens is always about him.

Paul A. Rahe, who holds the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Chair in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College. He is the author, most recently, of Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty: War, Religion, Commerce, Climate, Terrain, Technology, Uneasiness of Mind, the Spirit of Political Vigilance, and the Foundations of the Modern Republic and of Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect.

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