Obama Skips Berlin Wall Ceremonies

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Not enough about him?
By Toby Harnden – UK Telegraph

There was one world leader absent for today’s commemorations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Surprisingly enough, it’s President Barack Obama, who found time last year to give a campaign speech there last year, which Der Spiegel summed up as “People of the World, Look at Me”.

The White House has cited a packed schedule, though looking at it he had nothing much on yesterday (brief chat to reporters about healthcare – by far his biggest priority) and just blah briefings and a bill signing today until a metting this evening with Benjamin Netanyahu. This time, Der Spiegel has reported it as “Barack Too Busy”.

But Obama is, of course, making time to trot over to Norway to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in December. Didn’t seem to have too much of a problem clearing the diary for that – though his acceptance of the prize and decision to give a another soaring, historical, epoch-marking etc etc speech there will be looked back on as a colossal political mistake and sign of hubris.

Perhaps Obama felt that celebrating the role of the United States in bringing down the wall would be a bit triumphalist and not quite in keeping with his wish to present America as a declining world power anxious to apologise for sundry historic misdeeds. Maybe he didn’t really want to be associated with that warmonger Ronald Reagan:

Marty Peretz is gloomy about what his non-appearance says about Obama’s world view and his approach on Iran. Newt Gingrich calls the failure to go to Berlin “a tragedy”. Paul Rahe at Powerline wonders if Obama is signalling his administration’s intent to enact a “process of turning its back on our erstwhile allies in Europe”. Certainly, he seems to have a prickly relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Whatever the reasons, it’s another revealing mistake by Obama. This deserved to be marked by more than just  a proclamation penned by a staffer.

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