After a brief political absence, former president Barack Obama made a highly anticipated trip to Berlin on Thursday to join Chancellor Angela Merkel for a rally and throwing his support behind her re-election bid just hours before Merkel was set to confront President Donald Trump for a NATO summit.
Former presidents tend to keep their political stances quiet, but in our current political climate all bets are off. Obama’s message to Merkel was to stand up to a liberal world order and took Merkel’s side in her defense spending dispute with Trump.
“We can’t hide behind a wall”
Obama’s presence should give Merkel a much-needed boost as Germans show up to the voting booth in four months, though Thursday’s rally really saw Obama receiving much of the praise. When Merkel addressed the current climate of refugees — the thorn in Merkel’s side — she was met with boos and hisses instead of applause.
Quite possibly in an effort to shift the crowd’s mindset, Obama played the human rights card. “There’s a competing narrative of fear and xenophobia and nationalism and intolerance and anti-democratic trends,” Obama said in his address. “We have to push back against those trends that would violate human rights or suppress democracy or that would restrict individual freedoms of conscience and religion… We can’t hide behind a wall.”