[Editor’s note: After penning the popular “The Official Village Voice Election-Season Guide to the Right-Wing Blogosphere,” Roy Edroso has made dissecting those blogs into a weekly feature that appears here weekly.]
A FOREIGN AFFAIR: RIGHTBLOGGERS SLAM OBAMA TOUR FOR “SLOPPY RHETORIC,” 3-POINTER, HITLER, ETC.
Last week Barack Obama staged an unusual whistle-stop campaign in Europe and the Middle East. It was punctuated by grip-and-grins with national leaders, a basketball demonstration for U.S. troops, and prayers at the Wailing Wall, and climaxed by an uplifting speech about “true partnership” between America and Europe at the Victory Column in Berlin.
The obvious political purpose of the tour was to promote the candidate’s credibility as a prospective President, and he largely avoided substantive comments that might shift the focus from pageantry to policy. You might think this would frustrate rightbloggers, who have generally characterized the lightly-experienced Senator as a foreign-affairs “neophyte” and “puppet,” prone to flip-flops and gaffes. Surely the week’s insubstantial remarks and photo-ops offered them little enough to lash at — except for the lack of substance itself, and the premature and mildly comical pretense of world leadership.
The rightbloggers didn’t miss that, of course, but having many days to fill and pixels to populate, they went spectacularly further, criticizing Obama for his warm relations with French President Sarkozy, his basketball skills, and, of course, his resemblance to Adolph Hitler.
Obama’s cheery meetings with foreign leaders called forth some very creative writing. Their “fawning” over Obama was not a plus for him, insisted National Review‘s David Pryce-Jones, because “All this Obama mania is only the flip side of anti-Americanism. They’re all hoping for a president who will dismantle everything the United States stands for, and so prove them to be the intellectual and moral superiors they think they are.” The enthusiasm of Sarkozy, once widely hailed on the right for his “pro-American” views (“the accession of Nicolas Sarkozy can only be good for America… and a source of encouragement for Republicans anxious about America’s 2008 election”), especially galled them. NewsBusters, angered by the media’s “gushing” over the Sarkozy near-endorsement, pointed out that a condemned murderer had also endorsed Obama, and why wasn’t the press reporting that? At Commentary, Noah Pollak was reduced to mocking Obama’s use of a translation device in the Sarkozy meeting.
NR‘s Kathryn J. Lopez did her bit by grilling a Jerusalem Post editor: “Am I wrong in saying that Barack Obama did not impress Israel?” The editor hemmed, hawed: “Israelis are very caught up with our local news right now… Consequently, Obama’s visit didn’t evoke any deep-seated interest in Israel. At the same time, he didn’t make any serious mistakes during his visit so to the extent he made any impression, he made a positive one.” Clearly disappointed, Lopez pressed on with more leading questions (“How close did you get to the ‘messiah’?” “How did the Palestinians take to him?”), but to similarly limp effect. Later a pensive Lopez remarked, “It’s so odd to see a presidential candidate having a joint press conference with Sarkozy (happening now) …. Perhaps elections don’t matter here anymore. It’s all how we’re feeling. If the media feels like Obama is president …. If Obama is audacious enough to ask for meetings liken he’s president …” (These ellipses were in the original, perhaps to enhance the poetic effect.)
Of course, in this era of “Liberal Fascism,” Obama’s Berlin appearance got rightbloggers thinking of you-know-what and you-know-who. Ed Morrissey examined Nazi use of the 135-year-old Victory Column, and deduced, “If one wanted to talk peace, what worse location could one choose than Adolf Hitler’s favorite monument to militaristic domination?” RedState also noted the Nazi connection (“I’m sure Barack Obama is unperturbed by the military and Nazi history… Oh, and you lefties who would point out Kennedy and Reagan at the Brandenburg gate fail to understand history”). One wonders why the presumably de-Nazified German government has allowed the thing to stand, and why non-skinheads visit it in large numbers.
Dr. Melissa Clouthier noted with horror that Obama’s speech was announced with “advertising and rally literature that is written in German,” the native language of most Berlin residents. She also displayed a poster for the event featuring Obama next to a strikingly dissimilar poster featuring Hitler. “This is about artistic tone,” announced Clouthier. “I was struck by how similar they are in feel the color choice differences aside. Unnerving really.” After some disapproval and outright mockery from other blogs, Clouthier elucidated: “I made no comparisons between Hitler and Obama,” she insisted, “unlike the open-minded progressive nutroots have about President Bush,” and she blamed Obama for “handing out German-language campaign materials with disturbing imagery alluding to a former fascist leader.” (Clouthier’s doctoral degree, readers will be relieved to note, is not in Letters.)
Regarding the speech itself, some rightbloggers just couldn’t stop thinking of Hitler (“Did someone say ‘Sieg‘?”), and others denounced the usual Obama treason with the usual metaphors (“Obama tossed the entire United States under the bus and played the race card before an America-hating international audience”). Others dismissed the speech’s lack of content but, unfortunately, tried to impose content of their own. At Commentary, Peter Wehner sniffed, “This kind of rhetoric is, at best, sloppy,” then delivered nearly 700 words analyzing Obama’s “citizen of the world” remark (“If the world is still divided between those advocating liberty and those imposing tyranny, why ought we to declare we are ‘citizens of the world’?”). At that rate, Wehner could get a book out of Obama’s speech, as Garry Wills did out of the Gettysburg Address, and we sincerely hope he will try. At least Atlas Shrugged showed the proper seriousness (and a sense of rightblogger history) by suggesting Obama’s speech was only well-attended because rock bands played beforehand.
Even Obama’s overseas athletics came under rightblogger scrutiny. Instapundit dismissed Obama’s celebrated three-point shot: “My high-school friend Steve Proffitt once made a more than full-court shot — from the opposite end of the Maryville College gym, as he walked out the door — over his shoulder, all the way to the far goal, nothing but net.” Sadly, Instapundit did not embed a video of this feat.
As the trip wound down, rightbloggers duly counter-spun it. “Judging from the local drive time radio shows,” said National Review‘s Peter Kirsanow, “we bitter, religious pistol-packers here in flyover country remembered only two things from Obama’s Berlin visit: the phrase ‘citizen of the world’ and Obama’s failure to visit wounded troops at Landstuhl and Ramstein.” Kirsanow’s poll of radio transmissions also revealed strong concern over “Obama’s making a show of not wearing the American flag lapel pin; his wife’s claim that America is a ‘downright mean’ country; Obama’s association with Bill Ayers, photographed stomping on the American flag,” etc — that is, the standard right-wing talking points of the past few months. And so, whatever voters might make of Obama’s trip, for rightbloggers it was mainly a change of venue — the usual character assassination, willful misapprehensions, and outright lunacy, with some foreign locales added to hold viewer interest.