Barack Obama raised hopes and promised change. What has remained of his words in the world? That we must change something, that we must live, budget differently — those are all perceived insights. Yet where and how should the change begin?

He was the right man at the right time. Many thought that. He raised hopes and promised change; therefore many Americans voted for him — a man who recognized the signs of the times, who seemed to be cut out for the renewal of the American dream. He signified for emigrants worldwide what a long way they could come in a free society.

I cannot live out my emotions in politics. It leaves me cold. Parties appear to me as broom closets of the big banking houses and large industrial companies. Petty political games, power struggles and the all encompassing rhetoric make me sad at best. However, I was also swept away with Obama fever. For the first time in my life I went to the speech of a politician in the summer of 2008, in Berlin’s Tiergarten, because the candidate was not permitted to speak at the Brandenburg Gate.

On the night of his election older people with dark skin cried, young people rejoiced and sparkled full of energy. He succeeded in bringing his ideas to the people. He mastered the use of new media like no politician before him. Twitter and Facebook gave politics a new language and a new face. From the old continent one looked across the pond with envy. Perhaps no president before was equipped with as much power and trust as he at the time of his rise to power. That is scarcely three years ago — three full, challenging years. Not a short time in fast moving politics.

Obama has given many speeches — speeches in Prague and in Cairo, in places that had change behind them or would have change in front of them. As president, he also gave the speeches that he had given as a candidate. He kept his word — and his word kept him. Yet when the change started in Cairo, when people took to the streets and put their lives on the line for a system more free and more just, Obama seemed as if he had not listened to his own words, as if he himself did not believe in universal change in America and the world.

Change? That sounds soft, soft as butter. Where is the pain that every change brings along with it. How is this pain expressed? Is it bearable? There is actually only change if this pain turns out to be less than the suffering of the present condition. That we must change something, that we must live, budget differently, that things don’t happen fairly in the world — those are all perceived insights. But where and how should the change start?

Change in the world has two primary addresses: the center of the financial world, Wall Street; and Jerusalem, capital of a bloody conflict lasting much too long. And at both addresses, the American president stands outside the door, helplessly and without the password.

Disillusionment, and in some areas of the world disappointment, has set in. The man with the clear, committed words appears to be no more than an artful tactician, and one who wants to achieve greatness with small steps — no, he appears as if he must apologize to all sides, because he wants to make it right for all but at the same time knows he will not succeed.

Barack Obama has turned out to be the male version of Mrs. Merkel.