Obama flunks history, again

posted at 10:24 am on July 20, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

After receiving a hailstorm of criticism for considering Brandenburg Gate for a public speech, as well as official German dissuasion, Barack Obama moved the venue to the Siegessäule monument.  Obama will speak about “historic” US-German relations, but once again, Obama’s own grasp of history has been proven deficient.  Not only does the site contain a monument to Prussian victories over other American allies in Europe, its placement was decided by Adolf Hitler — in order to impress crowds in his idealized version of Berlin called Germania:

Still, even as the issue of his speech’s location has now been settled, a number of politicians in Berlin are still dissatisfied with the site. The Siegessäule — or Victory Column — was erected in memory of Prussia’s victories over Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1870/71). The column originally stood in front of the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, but was moved by Adolf Hitler to its current location in 1939 to make way for his planned transformation of Berlin into the Nazi capital “Germania.”

“The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France,” the deputy leader of the Free Democrats, Rainer Brüderle, told Bild am Sonntag. He raised the question as to “whether Barack Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world.”

Andreas Schockenhoff of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats said, “the Siegessäule in Berlin is dedicated to a victory over neighbors who are today our European friends and allies. It is a problematic symbol.”

Hitler didn’t just move the monument to its more central location.  He had a taller column built for it as well, to emphasize its message of German military domination over Europe.  He saw it as a message to Germans of their destiny — as well as to other Europeans as their destiny as well.  It was never meant as a symbol of peaceful, multicultural co-existence.

Team Obama has outdone themselves on symbolism with this choice. They’ve managed to make their hosts uncomfortable for a second time with their choice of rallying point, and perhaps more so this time. If one wanted to talk peace, what worse location could one choose than Adolf Hitler’s favorite monument to militaristic domination? One has to wonder how France, Denmark, and Austria will feel about Obama rallying German masses under the Siegessäule. Deja vu?

Obama could be excused for his gaffe, except for two reasons.  His team certainly understood the historical weight that the Brandenburg Gate would have lent his event, so why didn’t they bother to ask the Germans about the Siegessäule?  Quite obviously, the Germans understand the meaning and subtext of the monument, and most of them wonder why Obama does not.  Maybe this is a better example of clueless Americans traveling abroad than those who can only say Merci, beaucoup.

The more basic question is why Obama feels the need to conduct a campaign event among Germans.  Meeting with foreign leaders makes sense for a man with no foreign policy experience whatsoever, but that doesn’t require massive rallies among people who aren’t voting in this election.  In his rush to look impressive for no one’s purposes but his own, Obama has made himself look ignorant and arrogant all over again.


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I smell trouble. He will probably make some landmark speech about bigotry and healing wounds, yada, yada, yada.

saiga on July 21, 2008 at 9:53 AM

New name for this German trip.

BarackWORST

marklmail on July 21, 2008 at 9:19 AM

Haha. Barackworst tastes great, but man is it expensive.

forest on July 21, 2008 at 9:56 AM

MB4 on July 20, 2008 at 10:22 PM

Heh. Needs polish.

Jaibones on July 21, 2008 at 10:39 AM

if you’d like to see the EU fail, you goad Germany to drop the Euro (as a groundswell movement is currently working on; and gaining popularity in doing)

Have you seen how strong the Euro is? The EU ain’t going nowhere.

In fact, Obama is going to like what he sees so much one of the main initiatives of his administration will be to institute the Amero (a North American common currency between the U.S., Mexico and Canada which will replace the dollar). Not that this position is uniquely his. McCain is going to do the same thing because that’s what the elites want.

miles on July 21, 2008 at 10:41 AM

Have you seen how strong the Euro is? The EU ain’t going nowhere.

miles on July 21, 2008 at 10:41 AM

The strength of the euro is exactly why the other EU countries want Germany out.

Mexico and Canada will become two of Obama’s 57 states before we see the Amero.

TheCulturalist on July 21, 2008 at 10:53 AM

RushBaby……that’s a fine weapon you suggested. I want one!!

dustoffmom on July 21, 2008 at 11:00 AM

This morning McCain was talking about the Iraq-Pakistan border, which, of course, does not exist.

Verbal gaffe? Slip of the tongue? Was this as incompetent as Obama saying there are 57 states? Could one say that McCain flunked history for not knowing the two country’s do not touch? Does he get a pass on this or is he to be criticized for not having his sh*t together?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NC0Y7zMcn_4

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Was this as incompetent as Obama saying there are 57 states?

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Not even close. The “57 states” idiocy is in a league all of its own. Actually, that’s not true, “8-10 years” as President is in that same league. These are mistakes that no American would ever make. I mean, really.

Could one say that McCain flunked history for not knowing the two country’s do not touch?

History? “country’s”? You lost me, here.

McCain said “Iraq” instead of ‘Afghanistan’. Big deal. Adding 7 states (and 1 more to go) and a couple of years to a Presidential tenure is something quite different and, dare I say it, alien to American ears.

progressoverpeace on July 21, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Verbal gaffe? Slip of the tongue? Was this as incompetent as Obama saying there are 57 states?

Could one say that McCain flunked history for not knowing the two country’s do not touch? Does he get a pass on this or is he to be criticized for not having his sh*t together?

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM

1. You tell me, Dave. Which issed should be easier for a U.S. Senator? State your position.

2. History? Isn’t this more like geography?

3. Do you suppose McCain slipped on the Iraq v Iran thing?

Jaibones on July 21, 2008 at 12:33 PM

Can’t type today – issue, not issed

Jaibones on July 21, 2008 at 12:35 PM

This morning McCain was talking about the Iraq-Pakistan border, which, of course, does not exist.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Well that is counter balanced by McCain not talking about, or really believing in anyway, the American-Mexican border which does exists.

MB4 on July 21, 2008 at 12:43 PM

McCain takes away a border here, adds a border there. It all comes out in the McWash.

MB4 on July 21, 2008 at 1:21 PM

MB4 on July 21, 2008 at 1:21 PM

Heh. McCain does suffer from a terminal border-inconsistency problem. He’s only lucky that BHO probably doesn’t even know what the word ‘border’ means. I think BHO likes to use the term ‘strategic limits’ in its place – he thinks it makes him sound smarter, like when he droned on “we also have a strategy and a mission that allows you to do your jobs well but is also going to serve the larger strategic interests of the United States.” A strategy that serves the larger strategic interests …? Did BHO just learn the word ‘strategy’? This guy really kills me.

progressoverpeace on July 21, 2008 at 1:35 PM

And this screw-up will be reported where…exactly?

Dread Pirate Roberts VI on July 21, 2008 at 1:45 PM

Okay. So, according to you guys, the 57 states gaffe is far worse, say a 9 out of 10. I only think it’s a 7.5. I’ve already stated I think it was an unacceptable screw up.

Now, let’s move on from the 57 state fiasco and address McCain’s gaffe today. Is it important for him to know what the fu*k he’s talking about or not?
How can you justify him getting a pass on this?

You people are unbelievable.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 2:01 PM

Ivy league educations really are impressive.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on July 21, 2008 at 2:08 PM

How can you justify him getting a pass on this?

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 2:01 PM

I can’t speak for others, but McCain’s mistake is not a big one to me because I have made similar ones myself. I’ve said “Iran” instead of “Iraq” and “Iraq” when I meant “Afghanistan” at times.

McCain’s is a familiar mistake. BHO’s were not – not for an American. BHO’s mistakes were the same types of mistakes that my foreign friends make. That isn’t odd, in itself, but it certainly is for a candidate for US President, is it not?

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would have forgiven BHO if he had said 52 states, since Americans confuse 50 and 52 all the time. But 57? What’s up with that? That took some thought (what do you associate 57 with?) and I don’t think anyone has much of an idea what that thought consisted of – though there were some interesting guesses by people, 57 islamic states or 57 varieties of Heinz. (Sorry, I forget who posted those)

The point is that BHO’s mistakes appear to me to be either exceedingly stupid or utterly alien. McCain’s mistakes are just fairly stupid or wrong, but I recognize them. That’s how I see all this.

progressoverpeace on July 21, 2008 at 2:21 PM

McCain’s is a familiar mistake. BHO’s were not – not for an American
progressoverpeace on July 21, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Exactly! The difference is, to my way of thinking, a thoughtless mix-up of various terms or countries e.g. not immediately familiar/second nature to Americans and a ‘mis-statement’ of what is basic US civics. Hell, my 8 year old granddaughter knows there are 50 states and can name them and the capitals. She learned this in 2nd grade! She likewise knows the term s of the POTUS and Congress. Again, this was part of her school cirriculum. I would wager you would be hard pressed to find any school drop out who could not at least tell you how many states there are. It’s not that folks don’t misspeak now and then, we all do, but to err on such basics is jarring to say the least. Did i miss something here….did BHO ‘skip’ second grade ‘social studies’ or was he perhaps studying something/somewhere else? >snark

dustoffmom on July 21, 2008 at 4:02 PM

BTW….off topic I know and sorry for it, but did anyone hear Rush today talking about Obama?? Holy Moley he was on a roll and mad as hell it seemed! Sheesh…come on Rush, tell us how you really feel! :)

dustoffmom on July 21, 2008 at 4:07 PM

McCain’s was a slip of the tongue by a man with decades of experience in foreign relations.

Obama’s gaffes are ignorance of both history and geography by someone who has no experience except that of a community activist in Chicago.

elduende on July 21, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Someone also suggested Obama was thinking of the 57 primary contests, had a brain f*rt, and said 57 states. Regardless, it was a bozo stupid unacceptable mistake to make, especially with the bloodthirsty press and blogworld just waiting and hoping he fu*ks up.

As a non-American, it’s as, if not more offensive to me that a candidate doesn’t know the details when he’s on the world stage. It’s McCain’s JOB to be familiar with the region. It’s his JOB to not slip up and say the Iraq-Pakistan border. There is so much focus on that region of the world it should be tattooed inside his brain and talking about it should be second nature. But it isn’t. And that is unacceptable.

That most Americans don’t know Czechoslovakia no longer exists or where Iraq is on a map in relation to Pakistan is bad enough – but the man running for president HAS to know these things. To demand any less from your president is ridiculous.

It’s fine to call out Obama on his mistakes, but come on – you have to admit McCain hasn’t exactly been the sharpest tool in the shed.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Good attempt Dave, but again I say…….my 8 year old granddaughter….

dustoffmom on July 21, 2008 at 4:35 PM

dustofmom –

I AM NOT DEFENDING OBAMA’S 57 STATE BLASPHEMOUS INSULT TO THE NATION.

And your position on McCain with alllll that foreign policy experience not knowing about Czechoslovakia or not knowing the simple geography of the middle east is….?

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 4:41 PM

I AM NOT DEFENDING OBAMA’S 57 STATE BLASPHEMOUS INSULT TO THE NATION.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 4:41 PM

If you don’t understand the argument then just say so. This sort of stuff is just silly.

And your position on McCain with alllll that foreign policy experience not knowing about Czechoslovakia or not knowing the simple geography of the middle east is….?

Czechoslovakia … heh.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are not in the Middle East, genius.

progressoverpeace on July 21, 2008 at 4:56 PM

The Auschwitz mistake was much worse than the 57 states or McCain’s mixing up Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t think Obama thought there are 57 states, but I’m still not sure where he got the number. Maybe he meant to say he had campaigned in 47 states or he was counting the territories and DC? The Iraq/Afghanistan thing happens to newsmen, pundits and politicians on a weekly if not daily basis. No big deal. McCain knows which is which.

But, Obama claiming his grandfather (or whichever relative it was) was at Auschwitz betrays a serious deficiency in WW2 knowledge. That one was a pretty bad gaffe.

forest on July 21, 2008 at 4:57 PM

progressiveoverpeace – Thanks for the input. Much appreciated.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 5:04 PM

Not to mention placing Auschwitz in Germany instead of Poland. Somehow I really believe if a relative of mine had been there (as I have) I would surely remember where it was! Again, and not even just US civics/georgraphy, he demonstates an appalling lack of knowledge of our country and the world. Sorry Dave….but it’s just my opinion after all.

dustoffmom on July 21, 2008 at 5:27 PM

MB4 on July 20, 2008 at 9:54 PM

An ascending being? That does sound pretty cool.

Is that anything like a lightworker?
;)

soundingboard on July 21, 2008 at 7:16 PM

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would have forgiven BHO if he had said 52 states, since Americans confuse 50 and 52 all the time. But 57? What’s up with that? That took some thought (what do you associate 57 with?)

Thats’s easy. He meant to say forty-seven states.

“… it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in fifty…[long pause] seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit but my staff would not justify it.”

Forty-seven states, with one “left to go”, excluding Alaska and Hawaii equals fifty states.

aengus on July 21, 2008 at 7:21 PM

aengus on July 21, 2008 at 7:21 PM

But if he was thinking of the continental US, he would have started at 48, so I still don’t get the “fifty …”. I mean, fifty is the top.

If he meant to say ‘forty …’ then what’s with the long pause? To figure out what? 48 – 1?

Something very weird is going on in between BHO’s ears. It is still a very odd mistake that I have never heard before. I’m just telling you how it sounds to me. If it doesn’t sound weird to you then we just grew up and hang out with very different crowds and have watched very different TV and read very different newspapers.

What do you have on the “8-10 years”? The degree of difficulty on this one is 3.8.

progressoverpeace on July 21, 2008 at 7:46 PM

It’s fine to call out Obama on his mistakes, but come on – you have to admit McCain hasn’t exactly been the sharpest tool in the shed.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 4:26 PM

Isn’t that the problem?

This election is between an arrogant jerk with a poor knowledge of how the American government should work and a guy that thinks he is the second coming of Jesus – while almost showing pride in his abject ignorance of politics, history, and economics.

I’ve long held that there should be a “none of the above” on the ballot, and this election proves that contention.

18-1 on July 21, 2008 at 11:11 PM

An ascending being? That does sound pretty cool.

Is that anything like a lightworker?
;)

soundingboard on July 21, 2008 at 7:16 PM

Ascending beings get to drink beer. I think that’s the most important difference.

MB4 on July 22, 2008 at 3:33 AM

Ascending beings get to drink beer. I think that’s the most important difference.

MB4 on July 22, 2008 at 3:33 AM

Hmmm…when I drink beer, I usually end up a descending being.

soundingboard on July 22, 2008 at 5:12 PM

As a non-American, it’s as, if not more offensive to me that a candidate doesn’t know the details when he’s on the world stage……

As an American, it’s offensive to me that you deem it any of your business. I don’t get involved in your politics (wherever or whatever that is) – stay out of ours.

It’s fine to call out Obama on his mistakes, but come on – you have to admit McCain hasn’t exactly been the sharpest tool in the shed.

Dave Rywall on July 21, 2008 at 4:26 PM

No, McCain’s not. But Obama is worse – he’s a communist dirtbag who will send the world into another depression (though him and Algore will clean up). Not to mention, western countries will get hit again by terrorists. And 9/11 will seem like it was nothing next time. Obama’s idiocy is of the life-threatening variety.

Squiggy on July 22, 2008 at 8:21 PM

Obama would flee Berlin then like he would flee Baghdad now.

RobCon on July 24, 2008 at 2:59 PM

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