TOC has mentioned Professor Paul Rahe before. Here is a must read analysis of President Obama’s gestures.
Yesterday, I mentioned the President’s midnight call to the Poles announcing his unilateral abandonment of the missile defense shield they, and the Czechs, had risked much to achieve. I forgot that insult was trebled because it came on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland. This could not have been accidental. It was certainly petty.
Poland has 2,000 troops on the ground with us in Afghanistan. Unlike France and Germany, their mission is to fight. Poland has seen 15 of its soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Professor Rahe’s point today is that President Obama’s refusal to go to Berlin on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is a rejection of an achievement unequaled in the history of free men. Rahe’s list of American leaders who fought to bring down that Wall constitutes a lesson in bi-partisanship, and is a catalog of mistakes from which the West learned hard lessons. The Wall was a powerful symbol of totalitarian thuggery. Fallen, it is an even more powerful symbol of freedom.
In 1963, President John Kennedy speaking in Berlin at the Rathaus Schönebergand said, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan, at the Brandenburg Gate, demanded of Mikhail Gorbachev, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
In 2008, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke at the Tiergarten, a few kilometers from his preferred location (the Brandenburg Gate, but his presumption was blocked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel). As a mere candidate, the plan to speak at the Brandenburg Gate was widely regarded as unseemly overreach.
During that Tiergarten speech Presidential candidate Obama said this, “I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.” An uttering so bland and general that it need not have been said of any democracy, much less of one’s own on foreign soil.
Today is the 20th anniversary of the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and President Barack Obama, who wanted to speak at the Brandenburg Gate in 2008 as a candidate, will not attend the ceremony.
This is the same President Barack Obama who found time late last month to take a day trip to Copenhagen to lobby for the 2016 Olympic games in Chicago. He had sent his close adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to lobby for a Chicago Olympics as early as June.
The contrast seems to say something about his priorities.
The fall of the Berlin Wall was the culmination of a decades long defense of liberty against tyranny. The fall of the Berlin Wall represented American leadership and determination in support of free nations’ insistence on the dignity of man in the face of totalitarian butchers. The anniversary is no small thing to us and it is no small thing to our allies in Germany or Europe. Especially Eastern Europe. It’s only a small thing to a small President.
All I can say is, “We’re sorry.”