Is it any wonder former President Obama seems unable to quietly return to the private sector? Known for his rock star yearnings and love of the limelight, his post-presidential comments on world and US affairs stumble into a stark contrast when compared to Presidents Bush and Clinton, who both remained relatively reserved following their changes of administration; almost reverential to the position, if not the man. Yet, once again, last week in Germany, Obama was unable to resist.Barack Obama with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2013.
While meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former President Obama stated about the United States, “We can’t hide behind a wall.”. This overt comparison and reference to President Trump’s proposed wall on the border of the US and Mexico was not only tactless, but a very poor choice of words to use in Germany.
As a former president, he likely would have derided President Bush for similar comments against Obama policies just months after his inauguration. Moreover, if Obama left it alone, his many, many friends in the press would have certainly come to his aid and denounced President Bush as interfering and unable to adjust to life out of power. The lack of etiquette and protocol are rather obvious in Obama’s multiple public comments. What is more striking, bordering on ludicrous, though, is Obama comparing the walls of Germany and President Trump’s proposed wall on our southern border.
The connection Obama wanted to make in comparing the walls is simple, but like many such feel-good comments, it is not only simple, but wrong. The wall in Berlin was designed to keep the East German people in. The government feared brain drain and the loss of the East’s talent. In fact, an East German propaganda booklet called leaving the East an act of political and moral backwardness and depravity and said workers throughout Germany will demand punishment for those who leave the German Democratic Republic.
Trump’s wall is the opposite of that. Trump’s objective is to keep people out. And, just in case you are wondering, one who enters this country without appropriate permissions (visas, etc.) is violating the law. The simplicity ignores more than just the intent of the two walls. It ignores basic geography.
The Berlin Wall divided a country. Trump’s wall marks an international border. If former President Obama felt the need to compare walls, a better example would have been our North-South division that led to the Civil War. Never was our nation more divided and never was there a stronger need to “tear down this wall.” Just like President Reagan’s famous words to Mikhail Gorbachev to reunite Germany, the 1860’s saw legitimate, international calls for the US to end the separation of our nation.
We do not see anyone asking former President Obama to tear down the wall which his security detail has set up for his protection in his exclusive Washington DC neighborhood (where Obama just bought the eight million dollar house he had been renting). No one has asked him to tear down his fence or unlock his front door; both designed to keep the uninvited out. To do any of these would be unthinkable. Our former presidents earned, deserved and, most importantly, need the protection that walls provide. The common citizen too. Without locks on our doors, imagine the turmoil. Locks, like walls, do not prevent all crime, but at the barest minimum, tend to keep honest people honest.
Nevertheless, if Mr. Obama wins the argument, and the walls are similar, the US may suffer its own brain drain: Specifically, the many on the left and several Hollywood elites (Miley Cyrus, Samuel Jackson, Chelsea Handler, to name a few) who vowed to leave the US if Trump won the election. Perhaps they should make good on their promise before it is too late and they all end up stuck on the wrong side of the wall.