PRESIDENT OBAMA was too busy to attend the celebrations in Germany this week marking the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. But he did appear by video, delivering a few brief and bloodless remarks about how the wall was “a painful barrier between family and friends’’ that symbolized “a system that denied people the freedoms that should be the right of every human being.’’ He referred to “tyranny,’’ but never identified the tyrants - he never uttered the words “Soviet Union’’ or “communism,’’ for example. He said nothing about the men and women who died trying to cross the wall. Nor did he mention Harry Truman or Ronald Reagan - or even Mikhail Gorbachev.
He did, however, talk about Barack Obama.
“Few would have foreseen,’’ declared the president, “that a united Germany would be led by a woman from [the former East German state of] Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.’’
As presidential rhetoric goes, this was hardly a match for “Ich bin ein Berliner,’’ still less another “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’’ But as a specimen of presidential narcissism, it is hard to beat. Obama couldn’t be troubled to visit Berlin to commemorate a momentous milestone in the history of human liberty. But he was glad to explain to those who were there why reflections on that milestone should inspire appreciation for the self-made “destiny’’ of his own rise to power.
Was there ever a president as deeply enamored of himself as Barack Obama?
Thanks to the reader who sent this in.