Jul 24, 2008

Ich bein ein Americain

From the New Republic:
"In Berlin, hundreds of thousands will cheer a projection rather than a flesh-and-blood Obama on Thursday. After Inauguration Day, alas, Europe and the world will not face a Dreamworks president, but the leader of a superpower.... This vast power differential is what Germans and Europeans don't quite fathom in their infatuation with Obama. Their problem was not Mr. Bush, but Mr. Big — America as Behemoth Among the Nations, unwilling to succumb to the dictates of goodness that animate post-heroic, post-imperial, and post-sovereign Europe."
I couldn't disagree more, not that disillusion will eventually set in: of course it will. But make no mistake, it is Bush Europeans dislike, not America. Europeans are waiting to fall back in love with this country again. That is what his candidacy represents: not an imposition of European values but a restoration of American ones.
Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.
What he said, in essence, was not "I am a Berliner," but, ich bein ein Americain and was cheered and applauded for doing so by 200,000 people, waving American flags. A year ago, this was inconceivable. The audience may have been more important than the speech.

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