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Barack Obama's Popularity in Germany

Andrew Hammel, who runs the popular blog German Joys and teaches Anglo-American Law at Heinrich Heine university, says that Germans are obsessed by Obama and do not have "the faintest idea what John McCain stands for."

I spoke to Andrew on the day after Senator Obama's speech in Berlin at the end of July. The video was filmed in a "beach bar" at the river Spree close to the German parliament. Believe it or not.

We were in a good summer mood, even though none of us consumed this cocktail, that is advertised on the board in the background with a creative spelling of the word "happiness." I am sure that the spelling of that cocktail's name is some kind of metaphor for transatlantic relations and our (mis-)understanding of each other...

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Don S on :

Hiya Andrew, nice to see you! Joerg is becoming a bit of rock star with 2 videos in a single day! About Obama, I think Andrew is right and that he's going to be a more ordinary Democrat than many Germans seem to think, although I think the jury is still out on whether he's going to be more like Bill Clinton, John Kennedy, or Jimmy Carter. Perhaps he'll simply be himself. He does seem to possess a fairly unique temperament; I think the closet comparison among recent presidents might be to Ronald Reagan in that respect. I think Obama has clearly learned some of the political lessons Clinton taught us, but I don't see them as very similar in virtually any other respect. Plus the economic situation Obama will be facing is far more challenging than the one facing Clinton in 1993. Is Obama the next JFK? He's not a lot like JFK except in one respect perhaps; he will be a transformational leader in a lot of ways. Not so much in his policies as in whom and what he is. When Barack Hussein Obama takes the oath of office come next January he will be as complete a break with the previous president as any since Kennedy succeeded Eisenhower, and his racial, cultural, and religious background is going to have a huge impact globally I think. Less so in Europe than in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The next Jimmy Carter? It's possible. The economy is gonna be a lead-plated bear over the next few years. Obama will be able to blame it mostly on Bush for a couple years but after that people will start attaching blame to him. The recession may last a long time and recovery may be quite slow. Most of the pain will arrive on Obama's watch and people will remember that. Obama seems to have a somewhat cold temperament, as did Carter. Carter failed to bond with Congress and the US people; Obama may fail similarly. On the other hand I think Obama is a lot smarter than Crter was and has a better temperment apart from the coldness. He also has Carter's example as a cautionary tale; so we'll just have to see.

rushlevin on :

Obama has the media in his pocket. you might find one or two that have asked biden a couple of tough questions. obama camps dosen't like it and you are banned from further access. also if you don't agree with him they call you raciest. hr would like to make a hard left turn. " spread the wealth" and then the la times has a video of obama and his anti jewish feelings. fannie mae and freddie mac was the dems baby. you must give loans to people who can't afford them. I don't know who he will bw like. when he tries to surpress talk radio he will be more like putin or chavez. I think the honeymoon will be over quick and I think the rest of the world is in for a rude awakening. one thing that came out of this election is the death of the media. the ny times is at junk status at the s&p. as the saying goes beware of what you wish for..

David on :

"Germans are obsessed by Obama and do not have "the faintest idea what John McCain stands for." " Well, most Americans also don't have the faintest idea either, thanks to McCain's erratic behavior and his disastrous campaign. Robert Draper has an excellent piece on this: [url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/26/magazine/26mccain-t.html?ref=magazine]The Making (and Remaking) of McCain[/url].

rushlevin on :

the new york times is so much in the tank for obama. obama's tax policy changes everday. taxes will rise on people making 250k, then it 200k now its 150k. most be having trouble with reading the cue cards. s&p junk bond status: N.Y. Times

Pamela on :

Oh, where do I begin? From a thread below: ---------- I am more concerned about this quote from the Walter Grünzweig, professor of American studies at Dortmund University: "Students don't trust us. We have to convince them that we're not part of the propaganda branch of the American Embassy." ----------------- I have some questions. The EU supposedly had its impetus from coal and steel after WWI. It was all about energy resources. If all countries were equally strapped for resources that could fuel war, there would be no war. Ok, sometimes people are just fucking stupid. But I want to talk to every German on this board. Why do you trust Russia? You have given your energy resources to them. And they hate you. Do you think they have forgotten Leningrad? This is not about whether or not you like/hate Americans. I simply do not understand. I cannot imagine that Russia will ever forgive Germany for the utter hell the Russian people suffered. I see there is a movie coming out about the German women raped by the Russian troops. How do Germans forgive Russia? There is way too much bullshit conversation going on and not nearly enough true talk.

Zyme on :

The consolidation between both countries is made a lot easier by the fact that both contemporary systems of the war are gone. Every side has come to acknowledge that its high aimed ambitions of that time have failed. As I have pointed out time and time again, both economies complement each other. Each side has what the other desires. Trading volume consequently rose sharply since 2000. There is a feeling that when both countries cooperate, Eastern Europe can be divided into spheres of interest. All of this was only logical when Germany reunited and moved its capital to the East. From that point on, traditional relations have re-established.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Zyme "There is a feeling that when both countries cooperate, Eastern Europe can be divided into spheres of interest." That's a minority viewpoint. The majority is glad that most of Eastern Europe is part of the EU. The stronger the EU is, the better for Germany.

Zyme on :

Yes nobody is going to say that in public. Certainly no minority viewpoint is the assumption that the disunity of Germany and Russia allowed the Americans to gain considerable influence in Eastern Europe - and only with the willing support of Moscow, we can correct this.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"both contemporary systems of the war are gone." True. "Every side has come to acknowledge that its high aimed ambitions of that time have failed." No, the Russian side has not. Have you listened to the public discourse in Russia? They are telling themselves that the failure of the Russia empire was a failure of means (Soviet-style Communism), not a failure of ends (Russia assuming her proper place in the world). "both economies complement each other" Yes, both economies as they currently exist complement each other quite well. But, what is your evidence that Russia actually sees itself as a commodity-rich, low-value-added supplier to Germany and the rest of Europe? Where are the articles, books, speeches, movies, art, etc. preparing the Russian people for this role? Outside of Russian dissident movements, these things barely exist; what little exists is mostly for Western consumption. The internal dialog of the movement we might call Putinism, is an epic monologue of Russian greatness. At best, Russia sees the role you've assigned to it as a humiliating phase it has to endure, in order to assume its proper place in the world. Russia, according to its own self-image, is supposed to be a superpower that dominates Europe and is a peer to the US, if not superior to the US. How does Russia see the EU? Hard to say. Their ideal may be to be a competitor to both the US and the EU. Or, they may see themselves as part of the EU, but the dominant partner, certainly not the equal of France, Germany, or the UK. And honestly, if Russia can pull that off peacefully, or as a result of a defensive war, then more power to them and may the best hedgemon win. Really, I mean it. The US should have to earn its position in the world every day by superior performance. If we fail to perform, we aren't entitled to even a single ounce of influence outside of our borders. However, the US will resist, with force if necessary, the traditional methods of empire-building from the past. I just don't understand why Germany insists on pretending that Russian attitudes about WW II and the post-war period are the mirror-image of German attitudes. They most definitely are not.

Zyme on :

I have not said that Russia has the same attitude towards the past as Germany. I was thinking instead about the acknowledgement that the idea of simply conquering Eastern Europe and keeping it under iron rule without taking into account the interests of each other was a mistake by Germany as well as Russia. This sentiment I believe is shared. Instead the Russians are convinced that if we work together, we achieve far more than divided. This is also the preferred method to keep third parties (especially the Americans) out. The Russians view Germany as the key to the EU. Instead of dealing with small and rebellious countries in between, they prefer the quick line of communication. This in turn provides Berlin with the chance to shape EU-Russian agreements the way it suits itself best. Also Russia is not only considered a supplier of raw materials here. Scientific cooperation is growing in the fields of space and aeronautic research. Keep in mind that it was Russian shuttles that have put the German surveillance satellites into orbit - a good foretast of mutual trust. Russia's infrastructure needs to be rebuilt - and German companies expect the biggest share of that. Last but not least Russia's support at the UN security council is highly appreciated. Also the size of the country makes for another advantage: Long before Nato has been allowed to fly its supplies to Afghanistan through Russian airspace, German aircrafts have been allowed the same.

Joe Noory on :

Europe's preoccupation is Europe. It's foolish to expect that America should be just as obsessed with Europe. Like the other convocation on America's decline, the focus is misplaced. Why no-one is dicussing a self-hamstrung and contracting, ineffectual EU is telling.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Excellent blogging Joerg and Andrew! Particularly impressed by the clear audio in spite of a noisy environment (people, ferry boats, etc. but we can hear you both fine). Is that microphone German technology?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Thank you, John The mic is from Sennheiser. According to Wikipedia: "Sennheiser is headquartered in the municipality of Wedemark, Germany (near Hannover). Its United States headquarters is located in Old Lyme, Connecticut. The company has factories in Burgdorf, Germany, Tullamore, Ireland (since 1990), and Albuquerque, New Mexico (since 2000). Sennheiser's R&D facilities are located in Germany and Palo Alto, California." [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennheiser[/url]

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Wow, no ties to China and other sweat shop countries, but rather transatlantic cooperation. I feel very proud now... :-)

Justus on :

Hello! The problem that is touched in your article is very burning. And I agree with Zyme that Russia has the same attitude towards the past as Germany. And we must acknowledge that the idea of simply conquering Eastern Europe and keeping it under iron rule without taking into account the interests of each other was a mistake by Germany as well as Russia.

Logan on :

Barack Obama's popularity extends far beyond Iowa and into the heart of Central Europe. Germany has swiftly developed a serious case of Obama-mania.Obama's high standing goes beyond his opposition to the Iraq War, which has always been unpopular here. The sudden crush is intimately bound up with the near constant comparisons here between the young senator from Illinois and President John F. Kennedy - still admired in Germany and particularly in Berlin - which have stuck fast as his identity in the German press.

Reilly on :

It's not surprising that mr. Obama is so popular in Germany, I think tat this person is popular all over the world and has many admirers even among people who have never been interested in politics... He is comparatively young , full of ideas and energy...

Andrew Yu-Jen Wang on :

Speaking of Barack Obama: Barack Obama is a racial-minority individual, and he inevitably does not endorse hate crimes committed by George W. Bush. George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog). George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes. And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention. Many people know what Bush did. And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world. Bush was absolute evil. Bush is now like a fugitive from justice. Bush is a psychological prisoner. Bush has a lot to worry about. Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time. In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy. Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996 Messiah College, Grantham, PA Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993 “GEORGE W. BUSH IS THE WORST PRESIDENT IN U.S. HISTORY” BLOG OF ANDREW YU-JEN WANG ______________________ I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

John in Michigan, USA on :

"absolute evil"? Why don't you tell us what you really think? Don't hold back!

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