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November 8th, 2009 3:48 am
Ich Bin Indifferent
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Back before he took his oath of office, there were moments when Barack Obama seemed to have an intellectual clarity that occasionally allowed him to transcend partisanship. One such moment came in an interview with the Reno Gazette-Journal’s editorial board during the 2008 presidential primaries, when he made the (utterly true) claim that Ronald Reagan had been a transformative president in a way that figures such as Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton had not.

Of course, the fact that Obama wasn’t praising the content of Reagan’s legacy was obvious at the time.  Long before he was praising the virtues of Whole Foods arugula to Iowa caucus-goers (denizens of a state without a single Whole Foods location), The One was a Columbia undergraduate sympathetic to the nuclear freeze movement that thought Reagan was Dr. Strangelove with Pomade.  So this is a man who has never been a fellow-traveler with us Reaganites.

That being said, there are certain times when presidential grace requires biting history’s bullet (especially when it’s in service of a noble cause).  Thus, President Obama’s decision to snub Germany’s invitation to help commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise is as petty as it is revealing.

Two decades ago, the world witnessed the parting shots of perhaps the most protracted struggle between liberty and tyranny in human history. That this victory was achieved without any actual shots owes to the man that Obama once rightly recognized as transformational.  Yet while Obama was able to take time out of his presidential campaign to visit a Germany eager to enshrine him as a golden calf, he can’t find room in his day-planner for a return trip to celebrate the greatest human liberation of the 20th century.

Being wrong about the Cold War in the 1980s can be chalked up to an honest mistake fueled by a lack of intellectual sophistication. Being wrong about it 20 years later ought to disqualify you from any public office … let alone the highest in the land.

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