In Obama's speech in Berlin yesterday, the presumptive Democratic nominee explained early on, "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 last four words seem to have caused a stir at McCain HQ and in far-right circles. Apparently, "citizen of the world" sounds like one-world government or something.
But before conservatives get too excited about this, they may want to remember that Obama's not the first American to use the phrase. An Andrew Sullivan reader noted:
I’ve noticed that McCain, and the right in general, are latching on to Obama’s statement that he was speaking as a “proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world.” I see an attempt at cultural warfare in the making, and it should be squelched fast. The argument from the right appears to be that only some squishy leftist would call himself a “citizen of the world,” or that using the term suggests less than a full attachment to one’s own country (even if accompanied by a statement like Obama’s that he’s a “proud citizen of the United States”). A reader over at Politico has already noted that John F. Kennedy used the same phrase in his famous inaugural address in referring to his global audience.
I also did a one minute Google search – and I’m sure I could find more if I did a 15-minute Google search – and discovered that President George H.W. Bush used the exact phrase “citizen of the world” in presenting the national medal of the arts to Vladimir Horowitz, the legendary Russian-born pianist who became a US citizen in 1940. Was he insulting Horowitz as a lefty? I don’t think so. Also, Ronald Reagan introduced himself in a speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations as “both a citizen of the United States and of the world.” Do McCain and the right really want to start this meme?
When McCain & Co. bash Reagan and Bush for using the same phrase, I'll respect their intellectual consistency. But I have a hunch that's not going to happen.