What does it mean?
Dean Barnett, heard this week subbing for Hugh Hewitt on the Hugh Hewitt radio program, believes that the phrase will turn out as the most quoted aspect of Barack Obama's speech in Germany--by the conservative opposition, that is.
John Hinderaker at Power Line also picked up on the phrase.
There were, of course, problematic parts, like introducing himself as a "citizen of the world." These carefully-chosen words, loaded in the context of the current campaign, were obviously intended to advance the image that Obama wants to present to American voters. It's far from clear, however, that "citizen of the world" is at the top of the list of qualities voters are looking for this year.I have my own ideas about that choice of words, but before I begin to blather in earnest, here is Obama's statement in context:
In the context of the speech, the phrase is not all that shocking. Obama goes on to make a case for cooperation between nations in combatting terrorism--the sort of thing that might just as easily come from John McCain.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
The phrase has at least two drawbacks.
First, given the context of Obama's speech (European venue) and to a degree the label the right sticks on the senator (elitist), the phrase tightens the undesirable similarity to John F. Kerry.
Second, I read the phrase as a continued attempt at blank slate politicking. To the political left, "citizen of the world" communicates a willingness to see the United States as the bad guy. As such, it is the type of term likely to resonate with the BAF crowd even while they wrestle with Obama's apparently irrational continued concern over terrorism--the latter since the BAF contingent tends to blame the U.S. for terrorism. Chickens coming home to roost ... you get the picture.
In the end, however, I don't think the speech is likely to excite Europe. Nor does the content seem likely to appeal particularly to the American left.
I've run a few searches looking for European reactions. So far not much.