Citizens of Berlin, citizens of Germany!
I am proud to come to this city as the guest of your distinguished mayor, who has come to symbolize throughout the world the party spirit of Berlin.
Where is he? Klaus, my man! Really looking forward to our little soiree a little later today.
And I am proud to visit the Federal Republic with your distinguished chancellor, who has committed Germany to stability, wealth and progress, and who is the fiercest-looking world leader in a pant suit that I know. With the possible exception of Hillary Clinton and Kim Jong-un, that is.
But, seriously, Angela Merkel is one tough lady. You should see her at G 8 meetings, drinking Putin under the table or slapping Hollande on the wrist when he is being „French.“
Now, I realize there is an election in your great country in September, and I have to remain neutral in that noble democratic contest. So I thought maybe I should at least bring Chancellor Merkel’s challenger a nice gift from the States - Ms. Merkel’s phone and e-mail records as collected by the NSA. Except, my people at the agency called the SPD headquarters, but nobody answered the phone. What’s up with that, Mr. Steinbrück?
Also, I wanted to bring along John McCain, but Chancellor Merkel said Germans already have an elder statesman who is cranky and an unbearable know-it-all. And after meeting former chancellor Schmidt for a brief breakfast earlier today, I’d have to say: I know what she means.
At least he let me bum a cigarette off of him. But don’t tell Michelle that I took up smoking again.
Just kidding. Seriously, don’t.
Thank you, thank you.
You know, it’s great to be here, looking out on this vast, magnificent vista, with all the boulevards and parks - or what Mitt Romney would call „my backyard.“
I love coming here. Even before I became president, Berlin elected to count me among its own and welcomed me with open arms, on a sunny day before the Victory Column. Some commentators even compared me to a messiah, to a man who could do no wrong, a man who could walk on water. To those commentators I would say: Your words, not mine.
As some of you may know, I’m in my second term in the White House; critics back home claim that I am aloof and don’t care about regular folks, that I have not delivered on my lofty promises, and that I am only a skilled public speaker, not a skillful executive. And those are only the people from my own party.
But all that is forgotten when I come to Berlin.
In America, my political foes call me a „socialist.“ What they mean is: He’s is out of the mainstream. He does not belong to us. But here I fit right in. Everybody’s a socialist here, one way or another.
Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast a person could make was: Civis Romanus sum - I am a Roman citizen. Fifty years ago, when John F. Kennedy came to this city, the proudest boast was: Ich bin ein Berliner. Since then, the people of Berlin have taught the world that you need not reach for the stars, that living in Friedrichshain is good enough, as long as there is an organic-food store nearby. So today, the proudest boast anyone can have is: Ich bin arm, aber sexy.
Am I pronouncing that right?
There are many people in the world who say that you need a steady job and your own money to lead the good life. Let them come to Berlin.
There are some who say you cannot drink four-euro-lattes at Starbucks, separate garbage in eight different cans, send your boy to ballet class - and still be the capital of Europe’s economic powerhouse. Let them come to Berlin.
And there are some who say that a strong welfare state saps people of their initiative, ambition, and drive. Let them come to Berlin. Lasst sie nach Berlin kommen.
There are even a few who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, why it is so hard to build an airport that has a working fire-protection system. Let’s call those people idiots. Don’t ever let them come to Berlin.
It is often said that Germany has become a „normal“ nation. And that means: You have learned how to be average occasionally. Mediocre, even. You don’t need to be the best to feel superior. Except in soccer, of course.
Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect. Who would know that better than the people of Germany, who have seen someone like Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer land a job as premier of a state?
Is that her name? Sorry, I am just reading this off the teleprompter, and that’s her name?
But I want to say, on behalf of my countrymen, who live many miles away on the other side of the Atlantic: Man, you Germans are cool now. You’re like the Italians, except you know how to mass-produce a good car.
The children of our outgoing ambassador to Berlin came here four years ago, unhappy; now they don’t want to leave. They have asked their father to buy a house here.
My countrymen and I take the greatest pride in the fact that we have been able to share with you, even from a distance, the story of your unique success. When John F. Kennedy spoke here five decades ago, the people of this city were on the front lines of a cold war; now they are in line to get their child a spot in a decent kindergarten.
So let me ask you as I close, to lift your eyes beyond today, to the hopes of tomorrow. We can look forward to that glorious day when this city will finally have an airport that is fitting for a European capital of its size, and all free men, wherever they may live, can come and become citizens of Berlin.
Now, I don’t mean that as a mere metaphor, and you know how I love those! No, I am sick of Democrats and Republicans, of Congress and the House, of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. I long for the lovefest that is Berlin.
I have spoken to Michelle, and after my term is over, our family will relocate to this proud city. Therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich werde ein Berliner.
If you have an apartment for rent in Mitte, three bedrooms - call the embassy, at 8305-0.
Ghostwriter: Bertram Eisenhauer. Editor: William Pratt.