Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ich bin eine Katastrophe

Unlike the Brandenburg speeches of presidents John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, this one was largely ignored - by both Berliners and the wider media. Kennedy attracted an estimated 450,000 in 1963; Reagan was mocked for managing only a tenth of that - an estimated 45,000 - in 1987. But Barack Obama managed barely a tenth of that in 2013.

Yes, an awe-inspiring 4,500 flocked to the Brandenburg Gate to hear this President say what he had to say, which wasn't very much at all.

There was no coherence and nothing memorable. Kennedy's "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Reagan's "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" resonate down the ages: they were cries for freedom against oppression; for liberty against tyranny. It was geopolitical meat in an age of absolute moral conviction, when good was good and evil empires were manifestly evil, and in this Manichaean struggled the leader of the free world preached a gospel of healing and hope; of liberty to the captives.

But President Obama spouted milk: his pious platitudes of globalist relativism told us nothing and called for nothing. Actually, that's unfair: what we basically had was "Chancellor Merkel, stop burning fossil fuels!", for we are all citizens of the world and global warming will be the end of us. There was a bit of nuclear waffle and a bit of war waffle and a splattering of Guantanamo waffle, but Obama's vision of Utopia offered no practical solutions to any of the world's most pressing needs (...not a word about Islamism or the 'cleansing' of Christians from the Middle East).

And here in the UK it was all overshadowed by Jeffery-gate (or Geoffrey-gate) - reports that President Obama called George Osborne 'Jeffrey' (or Geoffrey) throughout the G8 summit, and how embarrassing it was for Osborne that he was completely unknown to the President of the United States.

It's funny, isn't it, how this sort of gaffe by Obama is turned by the media to reflect badly on the injured party; how the Conservative Chancellor becomes the butt of jokes against the essential infallibility of the Democrat President.

If this had been George W. Bush calling Gordon Brown 'Jeffery', the media would have surely mocked the President's premature Alzheimer's. Dubya's bloopers are ubiquitous:

But Barack Obama can get it wrong, too:
And let us not forget his embarrassing moment with the Queen, or writing the wrong date (the wrong year, no less!) in the Visitors' Book at Westminster Abbey. But none of this was greeted with the merciless vitriol and endless scorn that would have greeted Dubya.

The reality is that Barack Obama has been a colossal disappointment - at home and abroad. His Grace cannot improve on the final observation of Nile Gardiner at the Telegraph:
In front of the Brandenburg Gate, Obama sounded more like the president of the European Commission than the leader of the free world. It is never a good sign when a US president parrots the language of a Brussels bureaucrat when he is supposed to be a champion of freedom. Obama’s distinctly unimpressive speech in Berlin was another dud from a floundering president whose leadership abroad is just as weak as it is at home.
Obama is no JFK; he is no Ronald Reagan. He doesn't even hold a candle to George W. Bush. The Chancellor of the Exchequer should wear 'Jeffrey' with pride: it told us more about Obama than his entire Brandenburg speech: "Jeffrey, tear down this euro!"


Blogger Bob said...

Obama has undoubtedly been a disappointment, Your Grace. But it's never too late to move forward on developing a positive and inclusive vision from the ground up. That'll win support in the country and start to drain any long-term opposition.

Here's to the future.



20 June 2013 at 10:54  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Er, he had only 4,500 because it was an invitation only event, not open to the public. So you're not comparing like with like.

20 June 2013 at 11:45  
Blogger Nick said...

One wonders why it was an invited audience? Was it just for security reasons? Obama has addressed bigger crowds than this, and one would expect Germany to be a relatively safe place for him. Was it perhaps to avoid the embarrassment of a poor turnout?

He has turned out to be lack-lustre president. I've been trying to think of what he has achieved in office. He pulled out of Iraq, but apart from that he has largely maintained the status quo.

He went back on his pre-election commitment to dismantle Camp X-Ray, he persisited with the pointless campaign in Afghanistan, and of course, has sadly failed to reform Americas crazy gun laws.

He has been something of a caretaker president, who has not really inspired anyone. Now the novelty of being the first black US president is wearing off, the American public will probably look for someone who can actually deliver.

20 June 2013 at 12:12  
Blogger matt zx said...

Which Richard just goes to show the patrician style of this guy and his presidency! where as the other leaders of the free world stood before the public this prissy prez stands in front of hand picked rows of euro clones and career lickspittles!

20 June 2013 at 12:13  
Blogger Corrigan said...

Whatever about JFK, who the hell would WANT to be another Ronald Reagan? And only Cranmer could write without irony of George W "pregnant chad" Bush and the "Free World"

20 June 2013 at 12:18  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

It was for "security reasons". It does seem to bear comparison with the "rent-a-crowds" that hugely unpopular dictators come up with.

20 June 2013 at 12:32  
Blogger Span Ows said...

Corrigan completely missing Cranmer's point. So is Richard really, OK so it as invite only but the banal pap Obama spouted was dross and the point is that Obama is far more gaffe prone than GW Bush but get's an almost free pass from most of the media.

20 June 2013 at 12:52  
Blogger Richard Watterson said...

Span Ows.

His Grace made several points, I missed none of them but only addressed one.

20 June 2013 at 13:39  
Blogger Span Ows said...

OK Richard, no worries but it was really Nile Gardiner (DT link) then who was not comparing like with like.

However, most of the German press were similarly unimpressed with the man himself though and what he said.

20 June 2013 at 13:46  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

Given Obama’s dislike of Britain and the British, ‘Jeffrey’ will have been not a gaffe but a deliberate slight and the Westminster Abbey incident a deliberate insult.

20 June 2013 at 13:59  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

You've missed of the list
Obama's lies.


20 June 2013 at 14:28  
Blogger John Thomas said...

You call Obama a "colossal disappointment". I describe him rather differently. Apparently, there is a bill going through the US congress at the moment which would prevent late-term abortions, but Obama says he is going to veto it, thus ensuring the killing of millions. Such an action is that of a man who is very evil, and it certainly puts him up there with Hitler and Stalin. Apparently, after a recent killing-spree at a school, Obama said he was going home to give his own kids a special hug, that night. Vile hypocrite!

20 June 2013 at 14:29  
Blogger JohnH said...

Johnny Rottenborough said...
.. not a gaffe but a deliberate slight and the Westminster Abbey incident a deliberate insult.

How statesman-like of him.

20 June 2013 at 14:30  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Hear Hear Your Grace

Hard to believe the blighter was re-elected, what !

He seems to be the product of millions of votes of low achievers and lax standards types. No doubt they look up to him, God help us. If he’s a ‘winning formula’, what the hell are we going to have in the future for a Mr President…

20 June 2013 at 14:37  
Blogger Johnnyrvf said...

Ultimately he is a product of Chicago politics, statemanship and etiquette are unown to this imperialistic socialist muslim.

20 June 2013 at 14:44  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Even worse than the low achievement of this President is his serious weakening of the US Constitutional settlement.

When the four Americans were killed in Benghazi he was missing and we still do not know where he was or what he was doing. He is not being held accountable by a supine press.

Brother Ivo can forgive an error: he judges harshly a President who loftily regards accountability to his people as an optional extra.

He has supported Hilary Clinton in her horrible cynical evasion of responsiblity for not sending available help to Americans fighting for their lives saying " What difference dose it make?"

He has not only not sacked Attorney General for lying to Congress when he denied any knowledge of securing access to a journalists emails for which Judge's authority he swore the supporting affidavit, but Obama has appointed Holder to look into the matter. He plainly regards political expediency as superior to the Constitutional principles the Founding Fathers put in place.

He drove the Obamacare legislation through in 24 hours: it was a complex bill that nobody could read, let alone critique in the time afforded to them. Like a dictator he regarded his will as more important than the Contitutional principle that Congress and Senate should review legislation before it is brought in. The utter cynicism of this appalling administration was summed up in the words of Speaker Pelosi's -" to know what's in this Bill you have to pass it".

The most worrying thing of all is that many "Conservatives" here still admire this appallingly lazy cynical and self -centred incompetent.

20 June 2013 at 15:05  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Johnny R @ 13:59

I'm sure Johnny's absolutely right about a deliberate slight: Obama's demeanour on other occasions has suggested it.

Still, as insults to chancellors go, it could have been worse.

He could have called him 'Gordon'.

20 June 2013 at 15:20  
Blogger non mouse said...

So then, Your Grace, there's no hope of his being "Geoffrey's Eagle"?*

Ah well. That Brit hater probably never heard of Chaucer.

However, methinks there was a time when BO sought to emulate the rhetoric of JFK and MLK - but, for all their faults, those men had soul and conviction, which resounded through their presentations. I reckon BO's voice doesn't work - because it echoes only the emptiness and falseness of his being.

Remembering Chaucer's "House of Fame" - and the Eagle who carries the great man's mind-soul to inspiring heights...

20 June 2013 at 15:29  
Blogger non mouse said...

Mr. Explorer @15.20 -- Yes, indeed.
However, I can't help wondering about the extent to which BO has "influenced" both GB and Camoron.

Meanwhile, my heart goes out to those victims of the Mau-Mau who now suffer insult upon injury.

20 June 2013 at 15:35  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Nick @ 12:122

"I've been trying to think of what he has achieved."

Give the man some credit! (In more ways than one).

In his first four years in office, he ran up $6 trillion of debt. That's the sort of level of achievement our own big spenders could only dream of.

20 June 2013 at 16:22  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Oder, Ich bin ein Dummkopf.

20 June 2013 at 17:08  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

Obama has to be the worst President of the US*, no matter how much people try and justify his administration, even the press is apparently aghast at how he is treating journalists and the media.

Let alone things like contempt toward the UK, the lack of support shown to Israel, the drone campaign and now the revelations that we are all 'spied' upon, be we yanks or not. 'Big brother' is here. And under a left wing administration no less.

[*Now the egg heads will point to me that's Millard Fillemore or some obscure reference like President Van Broon (I can even tell Avi there was a Canadian President apparently)- but in my defence I understand at least Pres Fillemore but a bath tub in the white house].

20 June 2013 at 17:15  
Blogger david kavanagh said...

PS- Brother Ivo sums up things neatly, above.

20 June 2013 at 17:16  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Nonmouse, an apt Chaucerian inscription on Big O's futute presidential library front door lintel: “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.”

20 June 2013 at 17:19  
Blogger Nick said...

As Obama gets towards the end of his time as president, he may start to reflect on his (lack of) achievements. As he looks around and sees he is powerless to bring about any useful or honourable change Americam life, he can always bring in gay marriage.

20 June 2013 at 17:35  
Blogger John Thomas said...

"...many "Conservatives" here still admire this appallingly lazy cynical and self -centred incompetent." - yes indeed, Bro Ivo, and the pictures of BO and a fawning Cameron made me want to be sick!

20 June 2013 at 19:24  
Blogger Anna55 said...

I kind of like Barak Obama - but I don't like some of what he seems to be doing. By the way talking of
gaffes, I read somewhere that JFK's apparently impressive "Ich bin ein Berliner" actually translates as "I'm a Berlin bun"

20 June 2013 at 19:28  
Blogger David B said...

At least Obama is bright enough to realise that educating kids in sectarian schools is not a good way of minimising sectarian conflict.


20 June 2013 at 19:48  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! It seems to have escaped the attention of the world's press - and even The Jupiter too - that President Obama paid a surprise visit to Barchester before heading to Tir Na Nog across the water. Standing on the steps of our beloved cathedral, he spoke to an enthusiastic audience of 12...the old gentlemen of Hiram's Hospital had heard whispers of the wonders of Obamacare and wanted to show him their boils. When he got to the 'Hopey Changey' bit I noticed my Lord's Chaplain sneakily pin a rainbow flag to his cassock and look terribly smug. We shall certainly have words, he and I. I must admit I lost the plot when the President announced ' Ich bin ein Laden,' though Mustafa Fatwah from the local mosque cheered with gusto. It was a memorable speech, but I fear I might have Altzheimers. The Obama cavalcade swept out of Barchester as quickly as they arrived. Funny thing though, ever since I could swear the gargoyles on the West Front turn their heads and follow me with their stoney eyes...why on earth would they want to watch me?

20 June 2013 at 19:59  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Ah Mrs Proudie, if only the esteemed president had come to Gloucester. One’s good friend, the Chief Male Nurse from the local asylum, would have provided a welcoming throng, and taken the opportunity in the absence of said throng, to organise a long overdue hose down of the corridors...

20 June 2013 at 20:36  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness, Inspector! If your friend the Male Nurse has a long hose, I will arranged for the old gentlemen at Hiram's to visit for a scrub down...

20 June 2013 at 21:05  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

David B20 June 2013 19:48
At least Obama is bright enough to realise that educating kids in sectarian schools is not a good way of minimising sectarian conflict.


20 June 2013 at 21:32  
Blogger Mr Integrity said...

Brother Ivo wrote;
He drove the Obamacare legislation through in 24 hours..... Like a dictator he regarded his will as more important than the Contitutional principle.
Sounds like our own PM with his haste in pushing SSM through without regard.

20 June 2013 at 22:49  
Blogger Ivan said...

I don't know where people get the idea that Obama is anti-Israeli. The Obama Administration is all window dressing when it comes to Israel. (Not that I care much about it.) Going by the pattern of past administrations from President Nixon onwards this must be the most ineffective of administrations when it comes to getting something, even limited to rhetoric, from the Israelis.

21 June 2013 at 04:17  
Blogger non mouse said...

6/20 @ 17.19: Nonmouse, an apt Chaucerian inscription on Big O's futute presidential library front door lintel: “The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.”[ Parlement of Foules (PF) 1] Outstanding, Avi!

And it’s nicely multivalent considering that PF continues, Hippocratically:*
Th’assay so hard, so sharp the conquerynge (PF 2) - which resonates wonderfully with its corrupted ghost, Obamacare :)

Of course, through a lens of Somnium Scipionis**, we may see that both PF and HoF) relate to Cicero (106BC - 43BC) and Macrobius, and so to the journeying of souls between Cupiditas and Caritas. The dynamic is also discernible in the Tales, where The Pardoner - a Personification of Cupidity - surely mirrors how present-day pols exploit Love of the World!

In the “Pardoner’s Prologue,” that character boasts about his favorite rhetorical theme: Radix Malorum est Cupiditas (334).***
I wish we could hang a ghost-video of that performance over modern political podia ...

* From Hippocrates, 469-399BC; Aph. 1.1: Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. And he continues: The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate. (Hippocrates. The Genuine Works of Hippocrates. Ed. Charles Darwin Adams. New York. Dover. 1868. Perseus Digital Library. Tufts University. Ed. in Chief Geoffrey R. Crane. No date. Accessed Jun 20, 2013.)

**Macrobius, Aurelius Theodosius. Commentary on the Dream of Scipio. Ed. and Trans. William Harris Stahl. New York: Columbia UP, 1952.

***1 Tim. 6.10. Qtd. in Chaucer, Geoffrey. “The Pardoner’s Prologue.” The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd Ed. Gen. Ed. Larry D. Benson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987. 194-196.

21 June 2013 at 09:46  
Blogger JohnH said...

david kavanagh said...
" ... And under a left wing administration no less ... "

Why does this surprise you? Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot were all "left wing"

21 June 2013 at 10:57  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Non mouse,

My old buddy Jeff, or Geoff.... Chaucer that is... and I go back a while. I remembered that line, but googled it for the spelling. After seeing A Hard Day's Night in Prague, when the authorities allowed its showing, in 1968 or 69, I decided to teach myself English with the only book in this language my parents had, a linear translation from Middle English into Czech of an anthology of English lit which began, naturally enough, with Chaucer. Begin at the beginning, as Mark Twain advised, so I did. Not knowing rules of modern English (still looking for those rules, btw), I read everything phonetically, as one would read German, which wasn't so far off with Middle English anyway.

Mind you, Obama doesn't need Chaucer or such. Nor any real accomplishments either. He has mastered dirty Chicago politics and cuttthroat entitlement activism, started up a dynasty and built a myth to which future historians will genuflect, while our children's children will still be paying for this grand equity experiment. Not bad for a guy who partied his way through university. I did too, but I ain't no president....

21 June 2013 at 13:48  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

What do you want to get from the Israelis, Ivan?

21 June 2013 at 17:16  
Blogger Ivan said...

I do not want anything from the Israelis, Avi. David mentioned that Obama was not supportive of the Israelis, others that he is a secret Muslim and therefore anti-Israeli, which is plainly untrue when weighed against the course of events. Yes they may be some rhetorical nonsense here and there, but the facts on the ground speak otherwise. Has there been anything denied to Israelis by Obama that was allowed by previous administrations? Iron Dome? Diplomatic support at the UN when they require it? Sanctions against Iran? There is already a full-on sanctions regime against the Iranians. Anything but some derisive nonsense over the settlements, if that? What else is he supposed to do? Bomb Iran? This is plainly one administration that does not even feel it necessary to issue the old proforma commiserations on behalf of the Palestinians. To be fair Obama himself has claimed to be a great friend of Israel; he was not fooling anyone about.

21 June 2013 at 17:53  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

I thought Obama's hostility was plain as day, Ivan. The tacky snubbing, the embarrassing "outreach" to the Islamic states, his manufactured "crisis" over a routine apartment construction in Jerusalem, his Hollywood-level snubs of Netanyahu. But wait, there is more....

There is already a full-on sanctions regime against the Iranians.....What else is he supposed to do? Bomb Iran?

The sanctions are a useless farce, Ivan, with the Iranians splitting their sides at how gullible Washington has been to be led by the nose with promises of talks time and again.

For sure a few wake-up strikes against Iran or at least a green light to Israel would have made a difference. Even the Saudis offered a safe air corridor to an Israeli incursion.

Like most, you hide from the fact that a nuclear Iran is not only Israel's problem. In fact, Israel is probably the most capable country to defend against a nuclear attack, to survive one with retaliatory capacity and to punish the attacker with a stark finality. Iran is aware of Israel's policy of massive responses to nuclear attacks and, what's more, wisely believes it.Nothing beats credible deterrence; it actually keeps the world safe.

However, a nuclear Iran is a nightmare for all the regional neighbours, a threat to a militarily weak Europe (with an Islamist regime, Turkey, in NATO), and depending on the delivery system, a real threat to the US. And Obama has proven that under his watch, there is no credible US deterrence; if he can't slap the mullah's heads somehow and get them to stop, he is unlikely to do anything but investigate and negotiate if a tanker turns into a nuke in one of the US harbours. God forbid. Nothing is as dangerous as a weak and stupid leader.

David was right. Obama doesn't like Israel. Except come election time, I'd add and then he lays it on thick and my fellow American Jews of the liberal secular and the slowly disappearing variety fall at his feet. Whether he is a Muslim or not--probably not, as he is an opportunist, not an idealist--doesn't really matter; he is kowtowing to the Islamic states and supports a murderous, Muslim Broherhood fascist regime in Egypt, doing what a blatantly biased Muslim president would do. Even better, since he can pretend to be unbiased and have folks like buy it.

21 June 2013 at 20:04  
Blogger Ivan said...

The evidence on the ground shows that Obama has done nothing to compromise Israel. This is all that should matter. The United States has (or should have) other interests in the Middle East. The MB takeover of Egypt was going to happen one day, Obama was sneering much more at Mubarak, be that as it may, the MB is not doing all that great now and that may have been part of the plan all along.

If and when the Iranians get the Bomb, (they are taking such an awfully long time even taking into account the sabotages, that there must be something to the notion that they are not at present seeking one), it is in the interest of all of us to ensure that all nuclear weapons including the ones that Israel possess be put on the table as part of a nuclear-free zone. I know all about the Samson option and so on, and had some sympathy with it, but when normally clear-headed individuals such as Martinus van Crevald, threaten the rest of us with nuclear incineration, it is time for adults to take charge.

Support for Obama among American Jews has hardly budged, when the general decline in the popular vote is taken into account. Again I have nothing for or against this.

21 June 2013 at 20:54  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Ivan, Obama tried his best to scuttle Likud and to frighten Israelis into turning to Labour or Kadima with a series of unusual, diplomatically hostile moves. It's not over until the fat lady sings, as they say and this being the beginning of his lame duck term, he will have plenty of opportunity if he can get around Congress. His advisors didn't count on the popular support for Israel among Americans, having turned the White House into a leftist academic echo chamber.

"If and when" Iran gets a nuke, plenty will be happening pretty fast, none of which will involve nuclear disarmament; that is an old pipe dream which is now impossible to arrange or enforce. As for support for Obama among liberal Jews, a demographic sector that is about to move into wheelchairs, it's for Obama, not the Democrats. Their support now doesn't matter any more, and later it won't help.

21 June 2013 at 21:45  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


I think Avi basically answered your questions; can't really add much to his answers.

23 June 2013 at 23:08  
Blogger Ivan said...

Avi and David, hopefully things will pan out well. I had a few Iranian friends years ago who either fought in the Iran-Iraq war or had lost near and dear in that war. Even though they were supporters of the Islamic Revolution it was clear to them even then, that the mullahs were sending off the children of the unconnected to die in that war. The Iranians are largely a sensible people and if they had felt a millennial need to exterminate Jews, why is there a community of Jews in Iran? The internal elections in Iran turns on bread and butter issues, not the US or Israel. I expect that Iranian women are the backbone of the regime, not on account of any foreign issues, but because under the Shia regime, the children of marriages follow the mother rather than the father on a divorce. I tend to agree with the optimist Spengler (David Goldman) in regarding all the Iranian posturing as a last fling, before the demographic crunch set it.

24 June 2013 at 04:28  
Blogger Ivan said...

..sets in

24 June 2013 at 04:30  
Blogger david kavanagh said...


I think you are failing to make a distinction between Iranian people and the Iranian leadership, which is in power via by the strong arm of the state.

There are also Christian and other minorities in Iran, but I wouldn't say their life is a bed of roses, as his Grace often posts about Christians in Iran on this weblog.

There was also a much larger Iranian Jewish population prior to the Islamic takeover, but as with Iraq before it, many decided to or had to leave.

BTW-Iraq, had a very large population of Jews, ever since biblical times. But it only took the creation of a Jewish state to reverse a couple of thousand of years of peaceful co-existence.

24 June 2013 at 12:19  

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