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Obama's Upcoming Speech in Berlin: I can Listen

David Vickrey, a volunteer for Senator Barack Obama's campaign and editor of the Dialog International, wrote this guest post:

On July 24 Barack Obama will deliver a major speech in Berlin. Over the past week there has been a great deal of controversy on whether or not he should make the speech at the Brandenburg Gate (it now appears he will find a different venue).  Nearly forgotten in all of the press coverage is the purpose of Senator Obama's speech: redefining transatlantic relations.  Obama has been criticized by many (including Joerg in this blog) for not saying enough about America's relations with the European Union and for ignoring his duties as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on European Affairs.  So a speech in front of a large, cheering crowd in Berlin could burnish his foreign policy credentials.

Here is my take on what Senator Obama will say in his Berlin speech (note: although I am a volunteer foot soldier for the Obama Campaign, I have no advance knowledge of his speech other than what his aides have provided the media): 

First, Senator Obama will express the desire to restore the historic alliance between the United States and Europe, and to turn the page from the acrimony of the Bush years.  We are told he will use the German phrase "Ich kann zuhören" (I can listen) to indicate a radical shift in style from the current president.

Second, he will stress that close partnership with Europe is the best chance for tackling the biggest challenges facing the planet, such as climate change, poverty in Africa, the rising cost of food in developing nations, and the global threat of terror.  He is likely to reiterate remarks he made last week in Dayton about Germany and clean energy:

Across the planet, countries like Germany and the United Kingdom have already implemented clean-energy polices that are reducing their carbon emissions right now, and leaders like Tony Blair and Angela Merkel have done a great job of raising the visibility of climate change within the G8.

But a true partnership can only be based on common values and shared commitment. Senator Obama will affirm his commitment to the universal human values enshrined in the US constitution and the EU charter.  This means that an Obama administration will reverse the Bush Doctrine on issues of torture, rendition and unilateral preemptive war.  But it also means that Europe must step up its commitment in Afghanistan to prevent that country from failing.  This message will not go over so well in Germany, where the NATO mission in Afghanistan is extremely unpopular.  Here I agree with Spiegel reporter Gregor Peter Schmitz that the message of "tough love" to Europeans will be for the benefit of voters back home,  many of which are still deeply suspicious of Europe:

At the same time the senator from Illinois must take care not to seem overly pro-European. Many Democrats still recall how their presidential candidate John Kerry four years ago gushed about his good reputation in Europe only to be successfully and pejoratively labeled as "European" by the Republicans as a result.

Still, the sight of thousands of Germans enthusiastically listening to an American leader rather than protesting is bound to play well in America and Europe.  When was the last time that happened? 

My hope is that President Obama can return to Berlin some day and follow past US presidents by giving a speech at the Brandenburg Gate.

David Vickrey is the editor of Dialog International, a blog about German-American relations, politics and culture, and lives in Maine.

Endnote by Joerg: Spiegel International has another interesting article published today: Obama's Europe Trip: Conflict over Berlin Visit Becomes US Campaign Issue

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Joe Noory on :

First: Merkel, Sarkozy, and the likely PM Cameron, Berlusconi, are [url=http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/272553/36/]conservatives[/url], as in fact a growing majority of governments, even in cetral Europe and Scandinavia are going. As it has been debunked a thousand times over, the US was not liked before GWB, and there is absolutely NO evidence to suggest that it will be any better under Obama or McCain. Frankly, I’m with my fellow camel-jockey [url=http://www.sandmonkey.org/2008/07/07/why-obama-will-fail/]Sandmonkey[/url] on this one. Secondly: Compared the to US the European, are doing comparatively [url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/2262217/Analysis-How-George-W-Bush-became-an-African-hero.html]little to nothing for Africa[/url]. They are failing to reduce greenhouse gasses [url=http://no-pasaran.blogspot.com/2007/12/something-for-sneering-know-it-alls-to.html]miserably[/url] while the US advances the technologies and drags India and China into the fray. The fact remains that democrat have made America energy dependant, will substitute any passing fad for a serious measure, and Americans [url=http://pewresearch.org/pubs/884/gas-prices]don’t buy it[/url] one bit. They oppose drilling – anywhere, promoted the feeblest form of alternative fuels, oppose nuclear power generation, make us dependent on foreign refineries even by way of obstruction, want to regulate milage instead of letting the market figure it out, and so forth. In fact the last Democrat who supported offshore oil drilling appears to have been [url=http://www.pollutedpoliticians.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/donna_rice_and_gary_hart.jpg]Gary Hart[/url]. Thirdly: Americans will not elect him to take as constituents people who didn’t vote for him, and who by virtue of their combative and petulant nature do not have America’s interest at heart. Let me stress one important thing here. Since there are very few voting Americans who have an emotional alignment with Europe that matters to any degree that is greater than their focus on Americans interests, and that Americans generally resist the things that Europeans find important, and vice versa, a Euro-cred is a liability to an American presidential candidate. If he’s trying to work the JFK model, he might want to take a look at just how unlike any of the modern left Kennedy was. He cut taxes, opposed an enlargement of the welfare state, did brinksmanship with the Soviets to the point of being minutes away from launch, and committed the military to foreign engagements. This escapade makes BHO look more like [url=http://frenchelection2007.blogspot.com/2007/01/royals-china-trip-useless.html]Ségolène Royal[/url] going to China to build a International cred, which was a miserable failure and an embarrassment. Your approach to this image construction is that of Obama as a sort of MacArthur figure returning to the Phillipines, yet you’re at pains to not that there HAVE been moments when Germans didn’t protest at the sight of an American President. It was when that president’s attitude and actions mattered a great deal to them, and the phrase they remember from it were “tear down this wall.” The name escapes me, but I believe that president wasn’t a Democrat, relally DID restore [b]hope[/b] to America after a beating at the hands of a party with a post-modern world view, and indeed was an agent of [b]change[/b]. Otherwise our election are nothing but [url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrei-markovits-and-jeff-weintraub/some-blind-spots-and-hypo_b_106187.html]a spectator sport[/url] to most Europeans, who for all their lecturing still carry the kind of old fashioned class/group/tribal hatreds around that would make an European Obama impossible. That a campaign based on adjectives brings nothing but superlatives from unquestioning supported is a vivid illustration of just how venal Obama’s big-money campaign really is. He was 118 days into his first Senate term when he started on his presidential drive, and from the very moment he was elected to the senate, the Hollywood style, heavily stage managed PR blitz and image production kicked in. In fact I can’t imagine anything a genuine progressive would detest more – think of all the people he’s owe and the leverage that will be pried out of him. Running as all things to all people, as well as all things ant its’ opposite, raking in twice as much cash as McCain, while only carrying a 4 point lead, one has to wonder: even if the man is sincere and good for the country, would you want the baggage of the campaign of that sort to come with him into the White House? Not me, pal. I have a long life ahead of me.

Zyme on :

Your emotional release made me curious - are there any Americans who remain neutral between the democrats and the republicans? Apart from those who have said goodbye to politics, I mean. All I can read is totally one-sided commenters for each side of the front, never there is one who remains reserved. Here on the contrary most people are sobered and would never ever spend a considerable part of their free-time for any political party!

Joe Noory on :

The estimate is that almost 20% of the vote across the country are registered or defacto "independants", so no, no election is ever stitched up in America. We are a nation of 300 million people, and opinions are like, well, noses. I can think of a few exceptions among the humorless, but in general everybody has one. As for being emotional, I can't think of anything which is more of an emotional fantasy than thinking that people outside the American voter base, in this case non-Americans not subject to a direct impact of domestic policy, should figure in any way in an American election. Good representative government means devolving down to the smallest viable entity as a means of making representatives responsible. Ultimately that means soverignty. The idea of muddying that to include any European or a unaccountable transnational framework, if even only in the mind, is distincly antithetical and promotes the same foolish tyranny that (for example) gave China and Russia the opportunity to shoot down sanctions against Zimbabwe. The greater any aggregations, the less a community has rights and resposibility over itself. Besides, isn't it the people who are idiotically, vividly, and admittedly gaga over the ones being emotional and simpleminded?

Zyme on :

My goodness, foreign powers always want to have fellow partners in leadership that are cut from the same wood. Really this trait is almost as old as humanity. And it is by no means restricted to Europe. Just think of American "support" for various factions in all those civil wars in South America for example. Such interference is nothing that should electrify you.

SC on :

Except Zyme, that it does electrify - at least among some - and this is hardly new in American politics, stretching as it does all the back to the founding of the republic. Understand this and you will begin to understand a significant undercurrent always present in the development of American foreign policy.

Zyme on :

Do you want to say that this sentiment has survived more than 200 years? What makes you think so? No American is old enough to have witnessed European intervention at the US territory - so isn´t your rationale a bit far-fetched?

SC on :

Zyme, in a sense, yes. Hard as it may be to believe, the US does have a historical memory that passes from one generation to the next. It may come from school books, or the casual conversations among friends and family but it does get passed on. However, I think you are being too literal. Motive ideas seldom remain static. It was George Washington, in his farewell address, who looked forward to a day when his country could "bid defiance to any power on earth.” And it was John Kennedy who famously proclaimed that his country was prepared to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Indeed, to do so first and foremost for the American people. Kennedy didn't know Washington; never met the man, but I think on some basic level they would have seen eye to eye. While it was about European intervention in Washington's day, it certainly wasn't looking forward to European intervention in Kennedy's day. But, there is a connecting thread: Right? Now this sounds an off note in the ear of someone like you, Zyme. But, I think it a mistake to overlook it in the politics and the development of policy in the US. It provides one way to reconcile seemingly conflicting impulses toward, so called, isolationism on one hand and interventionism on the other. In Washington's day, it was thought enough to "set the fence" around North America, but history of the twentieth century demonstrated to many that the fence needs to be set further afield.

Zyme on :

"But, I think it a mistake to overlook it in the politics and the development of policy in the US. It provides one way to reconcile seemingly conflicting impulses toward, so called, isolationism on one hand and interventionism on the other." Interesting perception. But how was the gap created between the democrats and the republicans in their respective relationship to Europe? The former do hardly seem to have any instinctive repulsion towards European ideas, while the latter clearly do.

Anonymous on :

In my opinion, the gap which I think you perceive between the two parties is a byproduct of domestic policy differences that differentiate the parties. It happens that the parties differ in their policy prescriptive for health care, for example, and that Democrats, by contrast with Republicans, assert a prescriptive more in tune with European and Canadian mores. But the Democrat prescriptive on health care is also in tune with Japanese policy. The US has had it's "differences" with the Japanese more recently than with, say, the Canadians, British or French. I don't think the resonance you feel would be possible without the preceding 232 years of history sitting quietly in the background. The shifts in the electoral demographics of the two parties over the last 50 years may have amplified this effect some.

SC on :

Anonymous=SC: Someday, I'll remember to sign-in first. :/

Joe Noory on :

It has absolutely nothing to do with healthcarew, etc., etc. It has to do with the lack of evenhanded treatment on the part of the Europeans toward American entities, and their desire to steer US policy in the absence of having coherent and effective policies of their own.

SC on :

Joe: I think the question was why does it appear that the two major US parties have split in their relative attitudes to all things European. Personally, I think the perception of such a split is greater than the reality. However, to the extent that such a split exists, it is a byproduct of several factors not the least of which has been the demographic drift between the two parties over the past 50 years with the Republican party becoming more working class and rural and the Democrats even more urban, coastal, and upper middle class than ever in the past. Of course recent foreign policy clashes have lit up differences between the two major US parties but that observation just begs the question. My point was simply that all that has gone on between and within Europe and the US for the past 232 years - and more - forms the backdrop against which things we observe today play out. To ignore that in the belief, as some here seem to think, that anything before the last 20 or 40 years is largely irrelevant will miss much. What Zyme sees as an instinctive reaction to things European, has always been there; but more diffused between the two parties in the past than seems to be the case in the present, in part for reasons noted above. These sentiments Zyme notes have a history and are not principally the product of the present. Europe and its policy differences with the US have not split the parties, these things have highlighted splits that had already occurred for reasons having much more to do with domestic politics than international relations. This observation is neither new nor controversial, I think.

Joe Noory on :

Of course we are supposed to think this to the exclusion of what the KGB and the cubans were doing in central America. You know, I'm still bewildered by your previous comment... is your idea of sophistication a commenter who advocates both candidates?

Zyme on :

"Of course we are supposed to think this to the exclusion of what the KGB and the cubans were doing in central America." Why to the exclusion? "You know, I'm still bewildered by your previous comment... is your idea of sophistication a commenter who advocates both candidates?" Oh no - quite the contrary! It is only natural that among two candidates, one candidate always seems more positive than the other for everyone involved. But what astonishes me is the sheer amount of engagement that most Americans seem to place into their preference. Pages full of citations and references to historical roles of both parties! This is a harsh contrast to here, where most people have simply given up on politics and mind their own lifes. I frankly don´t know anyone who in a discussion would defend even politicians he prefers about others so ardently, as can be witness permanently among American commenters. Also such harsh attacks on the other side are only common on the political stage play - not in private. When it comes to critizising individual politicians here, most simply shake their heads in annoyance and quickly change to more pleasant topics. And completely ridiculous would it be to derive future politics from past actions of the parties involved. Here Adenauer´s (first Chancellor of the current republic) saying comes into effect for our political leaders: "Was interessiert mich mein Geschwätz von gestern?" - roughly meaning "Why should I bother with my yesterday´s babble?"

Joe Noory on :

To suggest that the US' actions in latin America, or anywhere else occured and occur in a vacuum implies quite directly that people like to think of them in exclusion of anything else that it's a action related to - and you know it. It's what the predictable tirades are about, like people who still shake their little fists and stamp their feet about Hiroshima and Nagasaki 60 years later - or any other nutty fetish they adopt rather selectively. Have you heard the same emotionalism from these fine folks about millions of Ukranians just "disappearing"? Of course not! That wouldn't fit the script. I'd put that in sharp contrast to the fact that Americans at large almost never reveal the extent to which they find most attitudes and comments from Europe unhelpful, frequently irritating, childish, and detestrable. I also really don't think that there's anything wrong with Americans not being diffident about politics, and if you think your opinions about my opinions to be an expression of such excessive enthusiasm, why don't you express them to faith-healing extacy shown by Obama supporters during his schlag with Hillary? Want to hear a [i]boo-hoo,[/i] Fucher? One mere mention of the phrase "old europe" flummoxed the opinion-makers of a continent for years. Years! Why is that?

Zyme on :

"I also really don't think that there's anything wrong with Americans not being diffident about politics, and if you think your opinions about my opinions to be an expression of such excessive enthusiasm, why don't you express them to faith-healing extacy shown by Obama supporters during his schlag with Hillary?" I made the comments regardless of which side individuals belong to. It just seems so extreme from this side of the atlantic. "Want to hear a boo-hoo, Fucher? One mere mention of the phrase "old europe" flummoxed the opinion-makers of a continent for years. Years! Why is that?" Honestly, I have no idea. When I saw Rumsfeld saying it, I had to laugh, and it still makes me smile when I think of his mimics at that moment :)

Fuchur on :

[i]As it has been debunked a thousand times over, the US was not liked before GWB, and there is absolutely NO evidence to suggest that it will be any better under Obama or McCain. [/i] The "they have always hated us boo-hoo"-myth has indeed been retold a thousand times over - but that doesn't make it any more true. The statistical facts are very simple and clear: In 99/00 78% of Germans stated that they had a "favorable" view of the US (this is from a PEW review from 2005(?)). In the wake of the Iraq war, these numbers dropped to about 40% (too lazy to look up the details now). So, I'm very sorry, but the truth is: The US was liked very much before GWB came along and screwed it up big time.

Joe Noory on :

What Germans feel is supposed to be a reason Americans should elect someone? Get a grip!

Fuchur on :

Huh? Where did I suggest that??

John in Michigan, USA on :

But the US was as disliked during parts of the Cold War as we are recently. So the dislike is nothing new or unprecedented. Some portion of the current dislike for the US is the side-effect of a cynical attempt to forge a European identity using the tried and true method of demonizing "the other". But what portion I can't say.

Zyme on :

Yes this surely plays a role. When forging a new, a bigger identity, you need a reason for the people to believe so. Common protection from foreign threats is the best grip keeping people together. When compared with the creation of the german nation, it might take quite a while until foreign threats move out of the public EU focus.

Fuchur on :

The Cold War ended almost 20 years ago. "Parts of it" were about 40 years ago - so we're talking almost about a whole generation here. That gives some perspective on your statement that dislike of the US is "nothing new", doesn't it? Besides, these claims that "the US was disliked" are always put forth a bit too casually for my liking. After all, e.g. the Germans have been stalwart allies to the US during (at least) the Cold War. To me, that puts us into the "pro-American" book.

SC on :

Heh! You're being ironic, right?

Fuchur on :

I don't quite understand what you mean. That the Cold War ended 20 years ago and that Germany and the US were allies during the Cold War are facts. How can stating facts be ironic?!

SC on :

Well, begin with your last paragraph. To be allies does not require “friendship of the people” or even a deep understanding or knowledge of the “other”; it only requires a convergence of interests. After all the US and the Soviet Union were allied once: Right? Or more recently, the US and the Taliban were allies in putting the iron to the Soviets: Correct? History too, I think. Now as for you first paragraph, I’m more accustomed to my European colleagues reminding me of the length, depth, and weight of European history and culture by contrast with the US. I’m not accustomed to Europeans dismissing so easily events as “recent” as 20 or even 40 years ago – a veritable blink of an eye compared with the length, depth and weight of 2 millennia of European history. But, perhaps I misunderstood your meaning in your first paragraph.

Fuchur on :

1. The point is: How do you measure things like "friendship of the people" and "deep understanding of each other"? It's vague and hard to define. So, let's start out with easy things. Like, being allies. That's an obvious, simple thing; nothing to debate about that. Granted - being allies doesn't automatically require liking each other. It is, however, a strong indication for it. So, IMHO, if you want to make the point that two allied peoples hate each other, the burden of proof lies with you. In the case of the Soviet Union or the Taliban, it's quite easy to make this point. In the case of Germany and the US, it's not so easy... 2. I guess whether 20-40 years is a "long" time or not is a bit of a moot point...

John in Michigan, USA on :

On other blogs, I've tried to assert as self-evident the very facts you point out, and gotten far less agreement than expected. According to European Progressives, Germany and the US are not true allies, rather, Germany is a NATO vassal state. In fact, they go a step further and suggest that all NATO members are vassal states, 'occupied' if you will. In any case we are not genuine allies. Only with this perspective is it possible to make sense of phrases like "[url=http://www.eurotrib.com/comments/2008/6/7/85823/57173/95#95]see how the French are treated, when they are probably the USA's more reliable ally when the shit really hits the fan[/url]". I had encountered a similar attitude in the European left back in the 80's, but was a little taken aback to see that it was still going strong. Of course, other Europeans will agree that we are allies; these Europeans might form a numeric majority, or maybe not; anyways, there is no strong, non-partisan consensus on this point. Which is absurd, in my opinion, but there it is.

SC on :

By the way, John, I saw that your read and enjoyed Kagan's piece. I liked your analogy too - very amusing. I'd have to think who to add to your lists of names: a good question.

Fuchur on :

Well, duh. I can also go to some blogs and find you loads of weird statements by Americans...

John in Michigan, USA on :

Yes, but the "occupied Europe" theme is hardly something that somebody just dreamed up on a blog someplace.

Fuchur on :

But it is! It's a fringe opinion, held by some of the extreme left and right... the kind of people who hate Germany (or, at least, the FRG) as much as the USA. Nowadays, after the Iraq war dustup, this meme has become pointless anyway (for how could Germany have acted like that if it was occupied?). But this never was some kind of accepted mainstream opinion. It's not as if a "normal" politician could step up and say: "And, btw: I think we should finally put an end to this American occupation." He'd be laughing stock.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"other Europeans will agree that we are allies; these Europeans might form a numeric majority, or maybe not;" OK I got sloppy in my writing, I was being too literal. I agree that a large majority of Europeans would agree with the statement "we are allies". But I still don't think the opposite [i]theme[/i] (although it is usually implied or felt, rather than openly stated), that "we are occupiers" is as fringe or as far out as you suggest. I am including not just the sort of extremist who would actually say "NATO occupation" as a slogan, but also the much more common (if somewhat taboo) sentiment that the US or NATO or 'multinational corporations' or 'Zionists' are preventing Europe from achieving its goals.

Zyme on :

Well Germany most certainly was occupied after the war was lost - by powers including the Americans. The feeling of being occupied surely vanished after the Berlin Airlift and common defence preparations against the Eastern Block. Politically though we remained a vassal of the Americans, being unable to disagree on any important international issue, until our reunification in 1990. Even then the old schemas remained partially in effect - until Schroeder showed up and finally disposed them. So practically only since the millenium we are acting as an independent nation again. Having so many political conflicts with the Americans since that time surely is no coincidence. It is in the nature of things.

Pat Patterson on :

What intiatives did the FDR want to pursue that in their state of vassalage to the US or NATO were they prevented from?

John in Michigan, USA on :

I'll agree that Germany is a special case, for the reasons you state, and I should have made that clear. However, these reasons only apply a little bit to the rest of Western Europe, if they apply at all, and yet the theme is present in full force.

Fuchur on :

If you want a true master-vassal relationship, look at the Soviet Union and its satellites. There's obviously a huge difference between the relationships SU-GDR and US-FRG, so just saying: Both German states were vassals, one to the SU, the other to the USA, would be supreme BS. There's no doubt that Europe (and esp. Germany) were dependent onto the US during the Cold War - but there's a long way from needing someone to being a vassal. If you want something from someone, you have to suck up to him to a certain degree. You can't expect to get all you want, and give nothing in return. But different from a vassal, a free state has the choice. Like France did, for example, leaving NATO. Germany could have done the same thing. Who knows, maybe it would even have worked out. After all, Austria was neutral, and it wasn't overrun by Soviet forces, was it? The point is: What prevented us from leaving NATO was not fear of the American tanks and missiles - but of the Russian ones. Btw, I remember reading that Chancellor Schmidt had lots of disagreements with his American counterparts (esp. Carter) (but I don't recall any details right now). Actually, I guess that a historian more familiar with the time could come up with lots of instances where those "ungrateful Europeans" didn't do what the Americans wanted...

John in Michigan, USA on :

Fuchur, I think you misunderstand. It seems like you are trying to convince me that Europe is a US/NATO vassal. But I never made that statement or anything like it. My point is that a surprising number of Europeans (excluding Germany which is a special case) are sympathetic to the view that it is a vassal, even though it is irrational to believe that.

Fuchur on :

I just googled this tidbit from Carter's memoirs "Keeping faith" (my translation): [i]"Shortly after my arrival I had an incredible encounter with Helmut Schmidt... who was ranting and raving because of a letter I had written to him." "...this discussion in Venice was the most unpleasant personal dispute I ever had with a foreign politician." [/i] Not exactly your typical master-vassal encounter, is it?

Zyme on :

Being allowed to leave the Nato at any time sure is an important point that counts against a vasselage. What I tried to point out was the real situation during that period. When leaving is no military option, you have to stay. Many incentives from the Western Powers ensured that Germany stayed in Nato - those would of course been withdrawn otherwise. But the most important point was the chain of command. Whenever a change was needed in the Nato doctrine, the western countries looked the same way to Washington as did the eastern countries towards Moscow. Precisely what happened when somebody apart from the US started an initiative can be easily seen at the Suez-case. That incident surely marked the end of independent military politics in Europe for a long time.

Joe Noory on :

You're kidding, right? The Soviets dictated INTERNAL and EXTERNAL policy by way of having a tacit right of refusal on the eastern block countries. There was virtually no pointmaking or "verbal defiance" - none of that at all. Only Romania and Yugoslavia had anything like an independant foreign policy, and it funtioned within incredibly strict limits.

Zyme on :

Futhermore I acknowledge that there are important differences between the respective relationships of Eastern Europe towards Moscow and Western Europe towards Washington. Precisely this is why we were vassals. As such we were still able to conduct our politics without direct interference from the US. Yet we were dependent on American protection and it is clear that this dependence creates a huge influence on decisions in foreign politics. Eastern European countries on the other hand were no vassals. They were mere satellites. They just happened to revolve around the center and had no significance in any decisions made there. That is the difference between both blocks.

joe on :

Gee I guess we all should go jump off the cliff now that the germans no longer like us. Where will it all end.........only BHO knows and he is not telling right now it appears.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Before assessing Sen. Obama's performance in Europe, we should at least wait until the speech has been given. Meanwhile here are some questions: Since he became a politician, has Obama ever been to Germany before (other than perhaps airport transfers)? Has he ever been to Berlin before? Of the countries on this listening tour, how many will be Obama's first time as a politician? How many will be the first time in his life? Perhaps McCain can help him if he needs directions, after all, [i]partisanship is supposed to stop at the water's edge[/i]. "commitment to the universal human values enshrined in the US constitution" There is no such commitment in the US Constitution, whose jurisdiction is strictly limited to US States and Territories. Perhaps you are thinking of the Declaration of Independence? "reverse the Bush Doctrine on issues of torture, rendition and unilateral preemptive war" Well, the policy has always been that the US does not perform torture. Thanks to McCain, this was elevated from policy into US law (prior to that, it was already illegal in the military). What exactly does Obama intend to reverse? The US rendition policies predate the Clinton administration, although Bush made more use of them than Clinton did. Does really Obama plan to end rendition, or is this just more wishful thinking by his supporters? Are you sure you're not thinking of extraordinary rendition (which was started under the Clinton administration)? The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were neither unilateral nor preemptive. We had many allies for both; Afghanistan permitted itself to be used as a base to attack the US, and the NATO response was defensive under both US and international law. In the case of Iraq, the doctrine of preemption meant changing strategies from the existing (since at least December, 1998) war of containment, to a war of regime change. The war was already under way. Can anyone cite a single country, other than Afghanistan, in which the US has gone from a state of peace to a state of war during the Bush administration? [b]Indeed, depending on how you define the term "preemption" and "war", Obama at times has called for preemptive war against both Pakistan and Iran.[/b] "Still, the sight of thousands of Germans enthusiastically listening to an American leader rather than protesting is bound to play well in America and Europe. When was the last time that happened?" Two words: Ronald Reagan. To be fair, there were protesters there as well, as I expect there will be for Obama if he ever becomes President. Wouldn't it be ironic if Obama ends up using his listening tour to further triangulate towards the right?

Pat Patterson on :

But at least the senator will not claim, "Ich bin ein Berliner." Too obvious! I would suggest ending with, "Ich bin ein Marmor Kuchen."

Pamela on :

Pat, I responded to your post on the 'China, EU & United States Holy Trinity thread where you posted the link to the Open Europe pdf. Thank you very much, it was excellent. frenchie, of course, reverts to type with juvenile scatology. Again, thank you.

Pat Patterson on :

I assumed the other was for me but you're welcome!

franchie on :

frenchie, of course, reverts to type with juvenile scatology. didn't you know, it our dayly menu though much more tasteful than your virtual logghoree

Pamela on :

Who wrote that for you frenchie? Your English isn't that good.

franchie on :

ok, miss prout-prout wants some more ? :lol:

John in Michigan, USA on :

David, care to answer any of these questions? Anybody else want to have a try? What about Obama coming out in favor of the death penalty?

quo vadis on :

"are there any Americans who remain neutral between the democrats and the republicans?" Me. Whatever you think of me and my opinions, I'm a pretty good representative of the US political center. I'm registered as a Democrat, but I often vote Republican. I'm the reason Obama has turned sharply to the center lately as I knew he would when I voted for him in March. In the primary, the candidates dance with their base, in the general they dance with me.

John in Michigan, USA on :

In a recent interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuJdJvZpA-I]Sen. Obama comes out in favor of the death penalty for Osama bin Laden[/url]. What's more, Obama qualifies it with "if he was captured alive" implying that assassination is OK as well. Will he get an earful about this during his listening tour?

John in Michigan, USA on :

Chancellor Merkel is right to suggest that Obama shouldn't speak at the Brandenburg Gate. Several US Presidents have spoken there, but a US Presidential candidate has never spoken there during an election cycle. What's more, until the August convention, Obama isn't even officially the Democratic candidate. It could be seen as interfering not just with the internal affairs of the US general election, but interfering with the internal affairs of the Democratic Party. Giving Obama his preferred venue would probably be very popular in Germany. But even the Guardian's Claire Fowler acknowledges, "it could cause potential embarrassment for necessary future relations between the other possible president, John McCain, and the German government." Merkel is correct to resist this popular pressure and act in the interests of diplomacy. Although the decision rests with local authorities, it would be foolish for Obama to ignore Merkel's wishes. And it looks like he understands that.

franchie on :

Where is DON ? we need his balanced comments here

Pamela on :

I'm making the popcorn. Who wants some?

SC on :

My hand is up! :)

Reid of America on :

Playing to enthusiastic crowds in Germany won't do anything to help Obama. It can only hurt him. American voters that care about European opinions are already overwhelmingly going to vote for Obama. The majority of independent moderate voters don't want foreign interference in US elections. If you recall in the last election a British letter writing campaign on Kerry's behalf actually hurt him. The way I see it Obama is in deep trouble. He is statistically in a dead heat when including the margin of error of the polls. Obama has had a 5% drop in approval since Hillary pulled out of the race. Obama fundraising is also seriously short of projections used to opt out of public financiang. It appears many of Hillary's big money donors aren't giving Barack Hussein Obama any money. If by the convention in late August Obama is down by 5% or more there will be a political brawl between Hillary realists and Obama idealists. Obama's present trajectory says he will be down 5% in late August. Obama is a 50 state loser.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Meh. There's still lots of time, he could turn it around or McCain could self-destruct. For example, re the Clinton doners holding back, or re the Progressive discontent within the Obama ranks - they could easily come back to him assuming Obama gets the official nomination.

David on :

"Obama is a 50 state loser." you wish. I've seen the internal polling number from the campaign for New England. Out of the six states, only one - New Hampshire - is in play for McCain. I guess that's where I'll be headed (again!) in September/October. New England will remain deep blue/ we will also pick up a US senate seat in New Hampshire.

Reid of America on :

As Paul Begala famously said "We cannot win with egg heads and African-Americans." The audacity of hype ends on November 4.

Pat Patterson on :

Ooo, secret double secret information concerning New England! Where, unless David slept through the last election, George Bush didn't win a single electoral vote in 2004 and only four in 2000. The fact that this internal polling shows that New Hampshire could again be a toss up means that the Democratic candidade from Xanadu will actually do worse in New England than John Kerry did! But if the agreement between Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama concerning retiring her campaign debt still hasn't been taken care of by the convention then I might go along with a 49 or 56 state debacle because I think Hawaii might stay with Obama. Unless, of course, Sen. Clinton, reenters the campaign before or at the convention for the good of the party and her bank account.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"56 state debacle" Heh. So you think he might win one state out of the 57? TalkLeft: "[url=http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/5/9/201858/4926]Obama Has Visited All 57 States But One[/url]" LA Times Blog: "[url=http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/05/new-patriotic-o.html]Patriotic Barack Obama lapel pins unveiled honoring all 57 states[/url]" For those Europeans who might be confused, we are making fun of David because [url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/?map=16]no Republican has done well in New England since Bush/Quayle in 1988 and even then they didn't get a majority of the electoral votes in New England[/url]. So it means nothing that Obama is doing well there. David seems to be hoping you don't know this. As to what is really happening...nationwide polls show Obama took a statistically significant dive, right about the time he started sounding like a Republican on FISA, guns, and related issues. I found this graphic on the official campaign community blogging site, my.barackobama.com, although the post that went with it has since been censured: [url=http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3292/2666037931_ac361969b0_o.png]http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3292/2666037931_ac361969b0_o.png[/url] As a side note, the Obama campaign has a perfect right to censure whatever they like on their blog, although many of his supporters disagree. Nationwide polls are really only good for tracking changes in reaction to news events, candidate announcements, etc. Because of the electoral college, nationwide polls tell you very little about who is going to win. To see who is winning, you really have to look at state-by-state polls, and [url=http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/?map=5]these suggest that Obama is winning, for now, but with plenty of states too close to call[/url]. Zyme - Sorry if the links and details are putting you off :-) Bloggers are not typical Americans.

David on :

I will do my part to make sure all 6 New England states go to Obama. But there are a million of people like me working in all 50 states. Check out the polls in Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, Montana{!}. All red states now trending blue. 20 offices set up in Virginia alone, as of today. Another data point to contemplate: Obama leads among Hispanic voters 2:1. Not only do I like our chances to take the White House, I think the Democratic surge will lead to bullet=proof majorities in both the House and Senate. Meanwhile, check out the latest numbers for Pat's boy: [url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2008/07/16/BL2008071601516.html?hpid=opinionsbox1]the 28% president [/url].

John in Michigan, USA on :

"Obama leads among Hispanic voters 2:1." More unremarkable numbers. Hispanic voters have for the past four elections always gone about 2:1 for the Democrat. Of course, since the Hispanic population is still increasing, that means Democrats do better at the margin...but this has been true for a while, it is not news. If the mostly irrelevant, bush-league information you've been putting out is the best the campaign has, it suggests to me the campaign is in real trouble. Or maybe you are just somewhat new to politics? If you really want to break news, tell us about the 'Open Convention'. I like Open Source computing, does Obama plan to apply those ideas to the convention? In what way? How will an 'open' convention be different than typical conventions? If the 'Open Convention' is more than just a clever slogan, it could be the most interesting thing in politics right now.

Pat Patterson on :

This little and totally self-demeaning passive-aggressive act that David indulges in once in a while is rather typical of most of Sen. Obama's supporters. And if you disagree with them it's because either you're a dead ender or a secret racist. Not really willing to engage the opposition other than secret tracking polls, religious solidarity with Rev. Wright, though oddly not much heard recently about his mentor, and the fact that reality seems to constantly intrude upon the true believers that they immediately crawl away and then hoist like some tattered umbrella over their heads, a poll! I can probably say without a shadow of a doubt that I think that Sen. Obama is one of our own home grown Americanized fascists, willing to do anything, say anything, betray anything and still believe that instead of this being the quadriennial election of the President that somehow, like the Moronic Convergence of a decade ago, this is when the stars align and that unless the Chosen One is elected then the Lords of Chaos will come through a rift in the Universe and destroy us all. No better nor worse than Huey Long, Father Coughlin or Marcus Garvey. Or possibly a second-rate politician from the most corrupt city in the US who loses, gives a pretty good concession speech in front of a crowd of sack cloth wearing and breast beating supporters and then goes back to the Senate with the goal of becoming one of the richest senator there and to pay for his daughters figure skating lessons. And since Sen. Obama has recently committed himself to throwing away all the gains and dishonoring the dead and abandoning the Iraqis then I sense that all is not well in Xanadu and all the courtiers are beginning to sweat beneath their gleaming robes.

David on :

Hey, I must have struck a chord! Pat can't get over the fact that the majority of Americans despise his hero. It is a universal loathing of George W. Bush that will win us the White House and both houses of Congress in November. Meanwhile, the latest financial information is out: Obama raised $52 million in June - more than $20 million more than what the pundits had been predicting.

Joe Noory on :

David, only in your mind would not mentioning Jesse Helms or George anywhere, either in the subject or in any implicit way in a blog or comment thread somehow become ABOUT Jesse Helms and George Bush. Is there anything else you need to get out? Some "Ronald Ray-gun" invective perhaps? Some Doctor Strangelove twitching over the mention of self-managed 401(k) plans? 40MillionAmericansWithoutHealthInsurance? The always-useful spectre of the homeless? Going to war for oil? Have I missed anything?

Reid of America on :

Obama supporters predicted $60 and he raised $52. Now Obama probably regrets rejecting public financing. Obama and the DNC is trailing McCain and the RNC in money. Obama and DNC have $72 in the bank versus $95 for McCain and the RNC. Now I'm sure your saying to yourself how is that possible. Obama is raising more money yet has less in the bank? Because as I have pointed out McCain and the RNC haven't started to attack Obama in any serious way yet. They don't want to face Hillary in the election. Once the Republican attack machine gets in gear Obama will be knocked out cold in the first round. You will call it racism.

franchie on :

This is also what I have read on conservative blogs, "now that Irak war is "powned", the next concern is to get a conservative in november"

SC on :

Just a comment on Missouri: Having spent the last 20 years here in rural Missouri, I'm expecting that this presidential election will be much like the previous two here in Missouri. By that I mean Obama can expect to do well in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia; not so well nearly everywhere else. As in the past two elections it will come down to the Republican Party's ability to gin up the turnout outside the cities mentioned. The Republicans been very good at doing this by means of grassroots organizing for awhile now out here. I've been told that the Democrat Party/Obama campaign have more than 100 paid organizers in state and Republicans/McCain Campaign fewer that a dozen. Even with this disparity I'm not prepared to bet against the Republicans here and I surely wouldn't put money on the table based on polls taken in this state this far out from November.

David on :

I think the people of Maine would be amused to be called egghead. Funny logic here: Obama leads in every poll, so he must be losing!

Reid of America on :

David, Here is the problem with your illogic. Kerry, Gore and Dukakis were all ahead double digits in July. They were a sure lock for President in the polls. But July polls don't mean much if you are a Democrat and in the lead. The only reason Barack Hussein Obama has a slim to none lead in the polls is that he isn't being attacked. He was attacked by Clinton but McCain won't attack him till he locks up the nomination. Once Obama really locks up the nomination the real battle will be joined. Hussein has no chance.

David on :

Reid, I'm so sorry about the untimely death of Jesse Helms; you must still be in mourning. But please spare me your history lessons.

Joe Noory on :

You might want to be careful with that one. Back when he was a segregationist (like Fulbright, I might add,) he was also a Democrat - and a fairly typical one at that. Civil rights wasn't an issue for democrats until it looked politically useful.

franchie on :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Helms I happened to learn a bit about him, he was the favorite "republican" leader of almost my net "friends", more "pragmatist" than "ideologist", I kinda like his strong "personnality" that didn't move with the "winds"

joe on :

I guess the Brady effect has all but been forgotten

John in Michigan, USA on :

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_effect]Bradley effect[/url] maybe?

Don S on :

A comment and two questions from a conservative who wishes Obama well. First, isn't he behaving like he's got the election in the bag, like he's already President? Minds me of the old adage about Papal elections: "He who enters the conclave as Pope leaves it as a Cardinal". He can't look past McCain no matter what the polls say and what the funding imbalace looks like right now - the American public have repeatedly shown they cannot be taken for granted. Ask Al Gore 'bout that one.... "We are told he will use the German phrase "Ich kann zuhören" (I can listen) to indicate a radical shift in style from the current president." Ummmm, this is a surprise? Obama will be a radical change in style. But nobody is looking under the basket to the likelyhood that he may not be much of a change in policy terms. Circumstances may differ (they always do). But if the US is hit by a major terrotist attack in 2009 - how do you suppose an Obama administration would respond? They would talk with the English, Germans, and French to be sure - as Bush did also? But endless palavering and existential angst coupled with hand-wringing will not be in the cards. The substance may be a lot more similar than the style will apear. Second, he will stress that close partnership with Europe is the best chance for tackling the biggest challenges facing the planet, such as climate change, poverty in Africa, the rising cost of food in developing nations, and the global threat of terror. He is likely to reiterate remarks he made last week in Dayton about Germany and clean energy:

SC on :

Don: Regarding the funding imbalance, one should keep in mind that though the Obama campaign raised 52 million in June, I think it also shows that they burned something 40 million in about same time period. It's not how much you raise, it's how you spend it. Above I mentioned hearing (from people connected with the campaigns here in Missouri) that Obama/Democrats have more than 100 (120 is the figure that I recall) _paid_ organizers here in Missouri while McCain/Republicans have less than a dozen - actually half dozen. From what I can see, the Republicans are getting way more for their money in this regard and the Democrats less. That's why I wouldn't bet against the McCain and the Republicans this fall here. Another thing that too many overlook or don't understand (our European friends?) is the effect of statewide races. Here in Missouri, for example, we have an open race for the governorship: the incumbent is not seeking reelection. That alone will draw voters to the polls regardless of the Presidential contest. In past years, we've had statewide ballot initiatives (think California in this regard), I'm not sure if any of these is coming up but something like that can really affect turnout.

Don S on :

Oops, missed my second question: "Second, he will stress that close partnership with Europe is the best chance for tackling the biggest challenges facing the planet, such as climate change, poverty in Africa, the rising cost of food in developing nations, and the global threat of terror. He is likely to reiterate remarks he made last week in Dayton about Germany and clean energy:" How will 'close partnership with Europe' tackle climate change when the problem is a global one? Close partnership with Europe, China, India, and Japan is a lot more like it. He's going to have to find common causes with China and India in particular or every erg of effort by the US and Europe will be swallowed in Asia. 'rising poverty in Africa'? - That soulds like a polite request that Europe get a LOT more engaged - expensively engaged. 'Europe' has been reluctant to do this. Rising cost of food? Agreed, and it's a global problem exacerbated by screwed up biofuel subsidies. But..... tose subsidies are really agricultural subsidies, and ag subsidies are a political bombshell. "Threat of terror"? Wht does THAT mean?!!! Anything concrete like boots on the ground in Afghanistan or a pacified Iraq? Or a nice photo op? Good luck with #1, Obama because 'Europe' doesn't WANT to do that!

Howard on :

How about focusing on who has the experience, judgement and character to protect us and bring prosperity to Americans … not someone who in the eleventh hour, finally tries to establish foreign policy credentials, in a one week visit, as a transparent political ploy to get himself elected. Where was Obama, when he was supposed to chair the congressional committee on Afghanistan, and never had a single meeting. Why did Obama vote ‘present’ over 100 times in the senate? Even if he stages a political rally in the Roman Coliseum, he’s still just an inexperienced politician, who is not qualified to be President of the United States of America !!!

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