2008 “People of the World”
posted by July 24 at 11:10 AMon
I missed part of Obama’s speech in Berlin due to a live-stream freeze, but what I saw seemed subdued in comparison to some of his more stirring speeches in the U.S.
No doubt that’s by design. Obama probably had a crowd in Berlin larger than any he’s ever had in America. If that had been combined with an address more rousing than any he’s ever given in America, it would have quickly become fodder for people wanting to mock him as a candidate for President of Europe or some such. As it was, Obama, with his “People of Berlin, People of the world” refrain, already provided quite a bit of audio grist for the inevitable YouTube parodies that will compare him to any number of interesting global characters who have prefaced their grievances with the call, “People of the world!”
As for the substance, who could argue with anything he said? Some will, no doubt. And, ripped out of context, Obama’s brief remarks on the shortcomings of America will almost certainly be portrayed on the right as Obama having bashed his own country overseas. But his message was fundamentally about all the hearts and lollipops stuff that is at the core of his campaign—people coming together, tearing down walls, uniting against common challenges.
I wasn’t underwhelmed. Obama was walking a tightrope of high expectations and constraints on what he could say in an overseas location, and he once again turned in a near-flawless performance in that regard. But I also didn’t experience this as some sort of key moment in the campaign. Watching the speech, I just didn’t hear anything I didn’t already know about Obama or anything in his world view that surprised me. I didn’t feel like he was showing Germans a side of himself that he doesn’t show Americans. And that, I think, was precisely the intended message.