Sunday, July 06, 2008
Is the Imperfect Vessel out to fill some very big shoes?
A German friend passed along the news Saturday that local sources in Berlin are confirming that the Obama campaign was in contact with city authorities to discuss the possibility of presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivering an outdoor address in front of the Brandenburg gate. The thinking is Obama would follow in the footsteps of two very famous Cold War-era speeches of U.S. presidents speaking in Germany: JFK "Ich bin ein Berliner" and Reagan "tear down this wall." It would probably be Obama's only public speech during upcoming visits to Germany, France and England on a swing to include stops in Israel and Jordan.
Of course, the greatness in the speeches given by JFK and Ronald Reagan was in the defiance: Both were telling our enemy in no uncertain terms that if it wanted to win it had to go through them. When Barack Obama stands before Brandenberg, who will he defy?
Obama at the Brandenburg Gate? That's the oratorical equivalent of Dukakis looking silly and small wearing the enormous tank helmet.
I'm sure the speech writers are hard at work to assure that the Sock Puppet will give the media that tingly feeling in thier legs again.
Kennedy and Reagan, alike in many ways, will be looking on in amusement.
Oh goody. Now Obama will also get to say, "Ich bin ein Berliner" (I am a Jelly Doughnut).
Subtle Kennedyesque changes to watch for in coming days:
Barack changes his name to Barack FITZGERALD Obama.
Michelle starts wearing Dior outfits and pillbox hats.
Obama delivers the speech with his hands in his suit pockets while pronouncing his "-ia's" to "-er's."
Purchase of a sailboat (named "Flash III") and beachfront property at Hyannisport.
Touch football games on the Obama front lawn!
Obama switches from Marlboros to Cohibas.
An overlooked detail... at the time Reagan and Kennedy spoke there, Berlin was a divided city *inside* East Germany. To even hope to get the same effect, Obama would have to be defiant in some place like, oh, Jerusalem.
Well, yes, I would expect that a German audience would be quite receptive to a speaker so charismatic that people have fainted at his previous outdoor rallies.
How far is it from this:
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us -- the spin masters, the negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of "anything goes." Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America -- there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an "awesome God" in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer ('One People, One Nation, One Leader').?
OK, that was unfair and uncalled for, but I couldn't resist.
To be fair, it seems likely that most Western Eurpoean audiences would be quite receptive to an Obama speech -- he embodies the current image of American cool and hip that post-WWII Europeans have generally eaten up. I would imagine the content of the speech would be relatively uncontroversial. It is a tad unusual for a presidential candidate to deliver a significant speech, or any speech, on foreign soil during the heat of the campaign, but as was remarked upon in this blog some months ago (before he had even clinched the nomination), many of Obama's core supporters believe that he is already president, and that the election in November is a mere formality.
So, yup, be prepared for large adoring crowds in Germany, and adoring press coverage. He should get a nice poll bump from this, unless there is a bad rookie mistake / unforced error somewhere in the execution of the event.
Europe is now voting to the right - look at who is getting elected in European countries these days. Left is passe.
Yup he will get a crowd but they will be all the little left over lefties looking for a leader - and a whole buch of plain clothes german police watching the the crowd.
As we noted at the end of a current post, the historical significance of the recent reopening of the United States Embassy at the Brandenburg Gate was certainly not lost on those who attended the actual ceremony just before the July 4th holiday.
In addition to German President Angela Merkel, they included former President George H.W. Bush who spoke and noted that the tearing down of the Wall (which occurred during his presidency) not only reunited Germany, but also Europe.
The embassy property was taken by the Nazis on the termination of diplomatic relations, and after the war, was walled in behind the Berlin Wall on orders of the Soviets. The actual former embassy building was torn down by the East Germans. The reopening of our embassy at the Gate, therefore, completed the historical circle.
In the AP Bloomberg story:
''If this was indeed the epicenter of the Cold War, it has now become the epicenter of a different world,'' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on a June 25 visit to the new building. ''I know it was not easy to bring the embassy to this place. But it is absolutely fitting that the United States embassy is here where it was before World War II.''
Professor Obama may simply be trying to bask in a little “johnny-come-lately” exposure at the gate in order to try and shore up a bit of support among the living overseas crowd. Either that, or he’d like to try and demonstrate how popular among Europeans he is.
But it was an entirely different Democratic Party, led by Harry Truman, that really stood up for the people of Berlin in their hour of need in 1948 with the Berlin Airlift. Yes, Kennedy’s subsequent words of solidarity were appreciated, but they were never anything more than mere words. It was Republican administrations that refused to lose faith with the people of Eastern Europe under the heel of Soviet domination, and eventually faced down the Soviets. Democrats went so far left during those decades that they would have been laughed out of town had they made any claim of solidarity with the freedom-loving Berliners, or the Poles, or the Czechs, or the Ukrainians, or Latvians or Lithuanians . . . ad infinitum!.
So, what will Professor Obama tell them -- ''Trust us -- we’re back?'' Or will his simply be an essentially empty gesture to try and somehow bask in the rhetorical "glory" of JFK, intended essentially for domestic consumption? Whatever . . . the press will cover it as if it is some great historic moment!
Yet, one lousy news story covered the truly historic reopening of our Embassy at the Brandenburg Gate!