DELAYED REACTION…. Eleven months ago, in a speech in Germany, Barack Obama told a massive audience, “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.”
The comment hardly seemed noteworthy. Indeed, at the time, the McCain presidential campaign, scrutinizing the speech at the granular level, hoping to find something, anything, to attack, didn’t find the remark interesting at all.*
And yet, here we are, 11 months later.
During the June 8 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, [Candy] Crowley reported that [Newt] Gingrich was “on offense when it comes to the president” and aired Gingrich’s claim that he is “not a citizen of the world. I think the entire concept is intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous.” Similarly, in a June 9 article on CQPolitics.com, [Jonathan] Allen wrote of Gingrich: “On foreign policy, he attacked Obama for declaring himself a ‘citizen of the world,’ ” and quoted Gingrich saying: “We must strengthen our unique American civilization…. Let me be clear: I am not a citizen of the world.”
On its June 9 broadcast, while interviewing Gingrich, Fox News’ Fox & Friends aired on-screen text that read: “Newt: I am not a citizen of the world.”
The notion of being a “citizen of the world” is not exactly a new and scary thought. As I recall, it dates back to Socrates. In modern times, presidents such as John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan have used it before international audiences.
It’s never been “intellectual nonsense and stunningly dangerous” before — Gingrich was in Congress when Reagan used the line, and didn’t whine at the time — but the right-wing drive to undermine President Obama has become so deranged, this is what’s become of our discourse.
The constant stream of attacks on the president is tiresome, but it’s the poor quality of the attacks on the president that’s especially annoying.
* Looks like my memory failed me on this one. McCain did attack on this one 11 months ago, it didn’t gain any real traction, and Gingrich is just recycling the old line now.