Obama’s Berlin speech was excellent. My primary quibble with it was the awkward phrasing that can make certain aspects of his speeches anticlimactic. He should add an extra layer of editing on his disquisitions. I was also struck by the delicious disingenuousness of his “the walls must come down” motif, which he mixed with talk of bringing together Christians, Muslims and Jews, because of his comments and behavior vis-a-vis Israel (where walls are going up rather powerfully and rapidly). All in all though, he did a good job of playing to his audience, spouting off a lot of fine rhetoric on the importance of the trans-Atlantic partnership, climate change, appealing for more European assistance in Afghanistan, and playing the media. He’s got the imagery he went for. John McCain, on the other hand, had his “big” campaign event washed out by a hurricane. An omen?
Addendum: This is a lame bit of punditry. It is true that if a candidate were to declare himself a “citizen of the world” at a stateside rally (and this would be more and more true the farther he got from the ocean) he would probably lose some points among certain swaths of the population. I think Poulos’s sentiment is overstated, though, a) because Obama did it abroad in a setting where it was wholly appropriate (no matter the rational meaninglessness of the phrase), and b) because it was done with the real swing of the campaign so far in the distance. It won’t hurt him. Poulos’s objection misses the point of Obama’s employment of the term; It wasn’t meant to “energize his base” or to ally Middle American’s about his “meta-attitudes,” instead it was meant as a rhetorical appeal to Europeans in order to juxtapose his world view with the provincialism and unilateralism of the Bush years.