Beg your pardon

by Volker Weber

Obama said yesterday:

the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it

It wasn't really a nation. It was Karl Benz, in Mannheim, Germany.


Shhhh! We Americans have very delicate egos, please don't bruise the new President...


Rob McDonagh, 2009-02-25

Ach komm, die haben doch auch schon Football erfunden!

Kristof Doffing, 2009-02-25

Did they stop John Belushi when he was on a roll telling us how you guys bombed Pearl Harbor?

"Hell no!"

At least we give you credit for some things ;-)

Kevin Pettitt, 2009-02-25

"Perhaps you have heard Russian epic of Cinderella?"

Hanno Zulla, 2009-02-25

It was Gottlieb Daimler, in Cannstatt, Germany - Benz's had only three wheels ;-)

Martin Hiegl, 2009-02-25

The automobile is one of those odd inventions that was being worked on by so many people in so many way that it is really, really hard to claim one person invented it. On the other hand, it is equally hard to claim that it was invented in America, given Benz and Daimler and so on. What Obama should have said (with less impact but more truth) was "the nation that first mass produced the automobile cannot walk away from it". Interestingly, I heard him say that version in a speech earlier, so I think he is aware but shortened the line to inspire more Americans, even if he irked more Germans.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2009-02-25

My friend, it appears you do not understand how things now work here.

Facts do not matter. Nor does truth. All that is important is what feels good, what is politically correct, and whether or not it can be compressed into a compelling sound bite.

Devin Olson, 2009-02-25

Hey Volker, you really meant, Nicolas Cugnot in Vanves, France ;-) (1769).

Joel Demay, 2009-02-25

Next thing you know, they invented TV or the telephone. :-)

Volker Weber, 2009-02-25

@Devin why not go the whole hog and get the feel good soundbyte to fit with a restricted 140 charachters.

John wylie, 2009-02-25

If there ends up being no fuel, how better to get away from the automobile than to walk?

Nick Daisley, 2009-02-25

So, three claimants in here, and as this link shows, there are at least six or seven who would have some valid argument on their side, two or three from the US. While I don't think Obama should have claimed it so flatly, his claim is not ridiculous, just tenuous. As the replies here show, there is no clear answer, and different countries could claim this with some justice.

Ben Langhinrichs, 2009-02-25

@Devin: I think most politicians are like that. Remember "Iraq had WMD and has to be stopped" and (later) "Saddam is a dictator and we had to stop him from abusing his people"?

While we are on the subject of WMD and dictators, let's do a simple quiz.

1. Country in the Middle East with nuclear wepons (hiding them in secret area in the desert). Has a history of opressing another ethnic group than the one the ruling party belongs to, and in the 1980's large numbers were killed in a massacre.

2. Country in the Middle East with huge oil resources. The ruler of the country and/or his close family is funding muslim fundamentalists, including religious schools in Afghanistan close to the Talibans, attempting to spread islam. The country has a religious police who enforce the fundamentalist laws who are fully based on the Quaran (or actually their interpretation of it). All criminal cases are tried in Sharia courts, where the Quaran is used as the law. Public beheadings are common, thieves get hands cut off. Flogging is another other common punishment.

Karl-Henry Martinsson, 2009-02-25

Volker - and the fax machine ;-)

Ian Scott, 2009-02-25

Er meinte sicherlich die Fließbandproduktion von Autos, aber dann wäre der Satz zu lang geworden ...

Tobias Berns, 2009-02-25

Americans also claim that some guy in Nebraksa invented the TV, but we know it was John Logi Baird in scotland

Carl Tyler, 2009-02-25

Hey, give Obama some credit here. At least they invented the conveir for mass auto productions. If not in technology Americans are good in processes.

goran angelov, 2009-02-25


1. You are right about the claim in the first sentence, but I don't agree on the others. Don't forget: Said country is the only democracy in the middle east, and the arab minority in this country has more civil rights than in any arab country in he world.

2. That's too easy. ;-)

Oliver Stör, 2009-02-26

@Oliver: True, said country is a democracy. I am not familiar with the voting rights for the arab minority in the country itself (about 20% of the population, if I have the numbers right [1]), or what exact other rights they have. But from what I been catching in the news is that at least certain arab groups (namely the ones on the occupied West Bank and Gaza areas) have no voting rights or even right to free movement.

[1] Seems like that number, based on just over 1 million arabs and 5.3 million jews, would be different if you add the 2.3 million on the West Bank and 1.4 million in the Gaza strip. Add those together and you have 5.3 million jews and 4.8 million arabs, of which 3.7 million lack rights.

You may be right that they have more rights than they might have in some other (arab) countries. But the excuse "but officer, why did you pull me over, theat guy that just passed me was speeding even more" does normally not work. If you consider yourself a democracy, you are bound to a higher standard.

The interesting thing, however, is that a certain US President used the supposed ownership of nuclear weapons to be a good excuse to invade one country, but ignored another country close by. Is it just me that think it was a fairly thinly diguised excuse, especially when everyone even before the war said that they did not believe that Iraq had any WMD (which it later showed was the case). It was not until then, when the WBD excuse had faild, that the new excuse "Saddam is a dictator" started being used instead.

For the record, I have nothing against Israel. I been there, and I have to admit that the female soldiers at the border were smoking hot. And I doubt it was just the uniforms... :-)
I am just a person who likes being logical and like to point out things like this. If I at the same time can show americans that they use double standards, or how polarized the media here in the US is, it is a bonus.

Here is an intersting quote: "I shall give a propaganda reason for starting the war; whether it is plausible or not. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth."
(Adolf Hitler, August 22, 1939)

Karl-Henry Martinsson, 2009-02-26

Hey, I think you all should just be thankful that you have this forum available to you on the Internet that Al Gore invented. ;)

Garrett Wolthuis, 2009-02-26

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