A Newsweek.com article on Tuesday celebrated historic speeches by U.S. Presidents at the Berlin Wall, somehow ignoring the fact that Barack Obama has decided not to go to Germany to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the collapse of communism. At the same time, the piece, by Anita Kirpalani, pretended that President Obama has made such a trip.
The article, entitled, "Ich Bin Ein Speechmaker: Historic speeches by visiting American presidents have left an outsize footprint on Berlin," listed visits by John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Obama’s entry insisted, "President: Barack Obama- Date: July 24, 2008." This was prior to his election and was only in the city of Berlin, not at the wall. The article notes these facts. So, why list him as President when he wasn't? The rest of the piece is vague on this point.
Kirpalani began, "Five American presidents delivered addresses at the Berlin Wall and, 20 years after its fall, the city is still considered a prime venue for American presidents to deliver important speeches." No mention is made of the President’s decision to snub German President Angela Merkel and not attend the upcoming 20th anniversary ceremonies.
Further, Kirpalani asserted, "...[Obama’s] plea for the fall of all walls echoed every earlier presidential speech, and the crowd of 200,000 was more than four times the number that attended Reagan's 1987 speech."
However, in a November 3 column, National Review editor Rich Lowry pointed out:
Obama famously made a speech in Berlin during last year's campaign, but at an event devoted to celebrating himself as the apotheosis of world hopefulness. He said of 1989, "a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one."
The line was typical Obama verbal soufflé, soaring but vulnerable to collapse upon the slightest jostling from logic or historical fact. The wall came down only after the free world resolutely stood against the Communist bloc. Rather than a warm-and-fuzzy exercise in global understanding, the Cold War was another iteration of the 20th century's long war between totalitarianism and Western liberalism. The West prevailed on the back of American strength.
Newsweek.com's full entry on Obama's visit:
President: Barack Obama
Date: July 24, 2008
Obama hadn't even been elected when he went to Berlin during his 2008 campaign. For that reason, the Germans did not allow him to speak at the Brandenburg Gate—they reserve it for presidential speeches. But his plea for the fall of all walls echoed every earlier presidential speech, and the crowd of 200,000 was more than four times the number that attended Reagan's 1987 speech.
In a 20th anniversary piece on the fall of the Berlin Wall, the very least Newsweek could do is acknowledge the bewildering decision by Obama to turn down an invitation to Germany.