November 6th, 2009
07:28 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama takes heat for skipping Berlin Wall anniversary

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama is taking heat for skipping the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.'"](CNN) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is taking aim at President Obama's decision not to travel to Germany next week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the latest in a string of conservatives to criticize Obama's decision to skip the ceremony on November 9.

"Some consider President Obama's refusal to attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in Germany next week an outrage, I consider it a tragedy." Gingrich wrote in an op-ed published Friday in The Washington Examiner.

"To commemorate, after all, is to remember. And Americans need to remember, not just that the Wall fell, but why it fell," Gingrich added. "We need to remember that the Berlin Wall was the symbol of more than just the Cold War, more than just the division of Europe."

While the president had originally planned to be on hand for the event, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs confirmed earlier this week scheduling conflicts and preparation for his impending 10-day trip to Asia have instead caused Obama to stay in Washington.

"Obviously, we have a lot to work on here, and we have commitments for an upcoming Asia trip," Gibbs said Tuesday. The White House announced Friday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead a delegation to Berlin.

But Obama's decision to miss the event appeared to spark derision from Der Spiegel, one of Germany's major newsweeklies, which declared on its Web site "Barack's too busy," and noted the president has not visited the historic city since taking office.

The move has also led to criticisms from conservative commentators who, like Gingrich, say the president's move amounts to a snub of all that the Berlin Wall's demise represented.

"Obama's failure to go to Berlin is the most telling nonevent of his presidency," wrote Rich Lowry of the National Review. "It's hard to imagine any other American president eschewing the occasion."

"This is unprecedented," Rush Limbaugh declared on his radio show earlier this week. "An American president not showing up at one of the most famous sites for the destruction of tyranny and the outbreak of freedom? Being invited by the chancellor, the leader of Germany, and not going?"

Obama did note the upcoming anniversary when he welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House Tuesday.

"We are now moving towards the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down and Germany being reunified after so many painful years," Obama said. "And this is a special moment for Chancellor Merkel, as somebody who grew up in East Germany, who understands what it's like to be under the shadow of a dictatorial regime, and to see how freedom has bloomed in Germany, how it has become the centerpiece for a extraordinarily strong European Union."

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. Jen

    Republicans, want some cheese to go with all the whine?

    November 7, 2009 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  2. naFmaR

    Connie November 6th, 2009 5:01 pm ET

    Look..Barack Obama is the President of the United States... for at LEAST 4 years. I hope 8!! We need to be supportive and stop trashing every thing he does or doesnt do. People who consistently bash him sound far more anti_American than he ever has. He is honest, intelligent, hard working,and focused. Give him a break.. One thing is for certain...if you didnt have a problem with W its imporssible for you to rationally have a problem with Obama. Cry-babys, Give it a break!

    Connie I didn't think it was possible to be wrong about every thing, but you did it. Are all the people who critisized Bush for 8 years just as anti-American as the one the do Obama? Think before you write.

    November 7, 2009 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  3. sandra

    was reading this and it is so cnn, all the left loons here thinking this is ok, turning down the invitation to go of one of the greatest moments in history, I will never forget watching this spectacular event , you could not help feel the compassion for these people, they way they ran to freedom, it was ok for obama to go there to make his famous speech during the election, all he wanted was the photo opt and all these so called adoring , worshipping fans watching him, but there was a concert going on afterwards, they were giving free beer, it was not all for him as the press and media wanted us to think, now look, people are waking up to this incompetent, egotistical, conceited far left liberal, and everyone is getting buyers remorse little by little, it is arrogant of him to not go , makes him look bad.

    November 7, 2009 04:03 am at 4:03 am |
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