When everyone’s talking about something, it can be hard to find new ways to describe it. But fear not, dear readers: our media are a literary lot, and their descriptions of Obama’s Berlin speech were chock full of exciting analogies. (Obama’s speech is “a tone poem”? Riveting!)

So, in the spirit of our previous Primary Night Metaphor-o-rama (and, yes, in the spirit of a summer Friday afternoon), we bring you our Heal the World Through Words/You May Say I’m a Dreamer, But I’m Not the Only One/Ich Bin Ein Metaphor list—some of the classic analogies with which members of the media described the Transcendent Moment of History/Overrated Spectacle that the world witnessed yesterday. Enjoy. And may your reading be bathed, like the tableau of Obama’s speech, in a glow of golden, gossamer light.


TWENTIETH CENTURY HISTORY

Obama = John F. Kennedy (TIME, CNN, NYT, The Nation, TPM)

Obama = Ronald Reagan (TIME, ABC News)

Obama = “Kennedy and Reagan rolled into one” (The Economist, TIME)

Obama = neither Kennedy nor Reagan (NRO)

Obama = Harry Truman (NRO)

Obama = Jimmy Carter (NRO)

Obama = John Lennon (TIME)

Obama = Hitler (The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, Fox & Friends’s Steve Doocey)

Obama ≠ Hitler (The Atlantic)


MUSIC, CINEMA, AND THEATRE

Speech = “the usual rock-star stuff” (NRO)

Obama’s reception = “a rock star welcome” (UK Guardian)

Speech = “Elvis-like hope and change” (NRO)

Speech = “Beatlemania-style rally” (The Atlantic)

Berlin = “the world stage” (WaPo’s The Fix)

Speech = “a tone poem” (NYT)

Speech’s setting = a picture (Newsweek: “a picture like that is worth a thousand words or, in this case, tens of millions of dollars worth of free campaign advertising”)

Speech = “a general picture of this moment’s defining challenges and the changes required to meet them” (TPM)

Television images of speech = “a curious tableau” (NYT)

Speech = “an audition on the world stage for Obama” (TIME)

Obama = “Super Star” (Der Spiegel)

Speech’s setting = “a professional outdoor concert” (Vanity Fair)

Crowd = “a sweaty mosh pit” (Vanity Fair)

Speech = “the operatic piece of political theater”
(Newsweek)

Story of the day = “the scene and stagecraft” (WaPo)

Speech’s spirit of human togetherness = spirit of human togetherness in any alien-invasion movie (TNR’s Michael Crowley)


RELIGION AND MYSTICISM

Speech = “Obama messianic sermonizing” (NRO)

Visit = spiritual coming (Times of London: “The Germans had endowed the visit with almost supernatural significance”)

Speech = resurrection (The Economist: “new life to the idea of the American century”)

Speech = Sermon on the Mount (Newsweek: “If Obama wins the election in November, this moment will be remembered as prophetic, a 21st-century Sermon on the Mount moving enough to sway even the most dedicated political agnostics.”)

Speech = “sermon to Germans” (Townhall)

Speech = “the Obama mission” (Times of London)


MYTHICAL AND LITERARY FIGURES

Obama = “a gladiator standing his ground against the media hordes” (WaPo)

Obama = the “mysterious stranger” (TNR)

Obama ≠ the “American Adam” (TNR)


SPORTS AND RECREATION

Speech = “a real grand slam” (TIME)

Speech = “a slam-dunk success” (Salon’s Joan Walsh, on MSNBC)

Trip = “premature victory lap” (NYO)

Speech = a poker game (NYT: “Eberhard Sandschneider of the German Council on Foreign Relations said, ‘The Obama who spoke tonight did not put all his cards on the table.’”)

Tour = Obama’s vacation (John Feheery, CNN)


CIRCUSES AND SPECTACLES

Speech = “a veritable carnival” (Times of London)

Trip = “a political high-wire” act (NYT)

Speech = “public spectacle” (NRO)

Speech = “a stupendous ride through world history” (Der Spiegel)


NATURE AND THE ELEMENTS

German attitudes = “Teutonic reservoir of icy cool” (Newsweek)

Crowd = a sea of people (NYT)

Speech = “an unalloyed triumph” (WaPo’s Howard Kurtz)

Images of speech = gold (WaPo: “The pictures have dominated… . In a campaign, that’s as good as gold.”)

Setting = a gold-washed tableau (TAP: “The setting sun threw a brilliant wash of gold over the whole tableau. It made Thomas Kincaid look like a hack (well, a bigger hack), and must have required some serious juicing of whoever’s in charge of the sun.”)


ROMANCE, PARTNERSHIP, AND TOGETHERNESS

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.