It began with the speech at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany in June 2008, when the emerging phenomenon known as Barack Obama took his act to an international audience. The speech proved that the mania he had caused in his country had purchase beyond its own shores.

Then a worshipful crowd of over 200,000 thronged the young candidate as he used his remarkable oratorical talents to present a picture of the world remade by the force of his eloquence. It ended in Paris on Nov. 20, 2015, when Obama, his face lined, his hair white, and his demeanor exuding exhaustion and petulance, was pummeled by a once-worshipful press corps. They were seeking answers which he could not and would not deliver as to how and why, in his reluctant supervision of the war against terror, he had contrived to get everything wrong.

Between the two came another rapturous speech in Cairo on June 4, 2009, in which he proposed a new relationship between the Muslim world and the Western nations, and on June 18, 2013, a return visit to Brandenburg where he spoke to a much smaller crowd of 4,500 and an indifferent reception.

Taken together, the four events map the chart of the relationship between Obama and words, which began as his friends and turned by degrees into the most lethal of enemies.