by George Will
"Does Obama have the sort of adviser a candidate most needs - someone sufficiently unenthralled to tell him when he has worked one pedal on the organ too much? If so, he should be told: Enough, already, with the we-are-who-we-have-been-waiting-for rhetorical cotton candy that elevates narcissism to a political philosophy.
And no more locutions such as "citizen of the world" and "global citizenship." If they meant anything in Berlin, they meant that Obama wanted Berliners to know that he is proudly cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitanism isn't, however, an asset for US presidential candidates. Least of all is it an asset for Obama, who needs to seem comfortable with America's vibrant and very un-European patriotism.
Otherwise, "citizen of the world" and "global citizenship" are, strictly speaking, nonsense. Citizenship is defined by legal and loyalty attachments to a particular political entity with a distinctive regime and culture. Neither the world nor the globe is such an entity.
In Berlin, Obama neared self-parody with a rhetoric of Leave No Metaphor Behind. "Walls"? Down with them. "Bridges"? Build new ones between this and that. "A new dawn"? The Middle East deserves one. And Berlin was the wrong place to vow to "remake the world once again." Modern Berlin rose from rubble that was the result of the last attempt at remaking "the world."
Of course, from Obama, such tropes, although silly, are not menacing, any more than they were from Ronald Reagan, who was incorrigibly fond of perhaps the least conservative, and therefore the most absurd, proposition ever penned by a political philosopher, Thomas Paine's "we have it in our power to begin the world over again." No. We. Don't.
The world is a fact, and facts are indeed stubborn things. After eight years, if such there are, of an Obama presidency, if such there is, the world'll look much as it does today - if we are lucky.
Sweeping changes are almost always consequences of calamities - often of wars, sometimes of people determined to "remake the world." Wise voters hanker for candidates whose principal promise is that they will do their best to muddle through without breaking too much crockery."
Barack Obama says what his handlers tell him to say. Left to his own devices, the stuttering jughead is incapable of framing a response to "Hello."