A Confused and Contrived Celebrity in Strasbourg

Sally McNamara /

President Obama’s tele-prompted speech to thousands of hand picked town hall guests at a sports stadium in Strasbourg was received with the customary rock star greeting that the President and the stylish First Lady have grown used to by now in Europe. Throngs of students applauded rapturously when President Obama talked passionately about the urgent crisis of climate change, and the ‘moral shame’ of Guantanamo bay. Less enthusiastic were they for his message about the essentialness of winning in Afghanistan, which perhaps explains why he spent such little time on the topic. Even though he fluffed his lines reading France’s political motto “Liberty, Fraternity, Equality,” the crowd forgave the young and charismatic president this minor faux pas.

However, it is the President’s unfettered enthusiasm for the European Union which is most confusing. President Obama was effusive in his praise for European integration, and more than once alluded to the EU as a symbol of European unity. He referenced the Strasbourg seat of the European Parliament as an example of European achievement; he even told Europeans that an EU defense identity was a good thing! (more…)