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German Paper: "America Remains Model to Emulate"

Obamamania has reached Germany a few months ago and produces quite a few positive news reports about the United States. Thomas Klau, the Washington correspondent of the Financial Times Deutschland, for instance, concludes his column about the rise of Senator Barack Obama with:
America continues to function as a model for the world. The son of an African immigrant and the representative of an ethnic minority is considered a legitimate candidate for the nation's leadership. No European country would be capable or ready to give a politician with such a biography the chance to reach the highest and most powerful public office. To fact that the U.S. developed as a country of immigrants explains the generosity of America, but it doesn't explain the narrow-mindedness of Europe. The continent has been a destination for immigrants for too long to condone the exclusion of minorities from leadership positions in society. One can criticize the U.S. for the Iraq War without misjudging its greatness, especially when Europe needs such a role example.
Read the original article in German at Financial Times Deutschland, the German publication by the famous UK business daily. English translation at Watching America.

Senator Obama has written the bestseller "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" available at

UPDATE: Reader Pat Patterson points out that Obama is not "the son of an African immigrant," because his father
and came to the US on a student visa and then left two years after the future Senator's birth. He also writes that Nicolas Sarkozy is the son of a Hungarian father and has a bigger chance to become France's next president. 
A few children of immigrants are members of the German parliament, but in in contrast to Sarkozy and Obama, they are not (yet) considered candidates for top government positions.


The Moderate Voice on : Around The Sphere January 4, 2007

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Pat Patterson on :

I can sense the coronation planning now but to describe Sen. Obama's father as an immigrant is really stretching the facts. He came to the US on a student visa and then left two years after the future Senator's birth. Now if he had been born in a log cabin in Honolulu then I would be impressed.

Zyme on :

My goodness, people from different continents are a minority in Europe. How could you expect the european majority to vote for a member of a minority??

Don S on :

"Now if he had been born in a log cabin in Honolulu then I would be impressed." Pat, I think it's impressive in itself that the US could elect the son of an African president. Just as it was impressive that the US could elect the son of a - well how [i]does one[/i] describe Joseph Kennedy? Movie mogul? Speculator? Booze-runner? Ambassador? He was all of these things. Obama isn't exactly the fruit of the ghettos any more than Kennedy was. But I like belonging to a country where an Obama can aspire to the highest office in the land!

Don S on :

Zyme, I think that is precisely the point - and the difference between the US and most European countries. Sons of an African exchange student and somewhat privileged Hawaian background don't grow on trees - they are decidedly in the minority in the US as well as Europe. It's as if an heiress to the Seimens Bank had married a Turk and their son was a talented politician who was a good bet to become Chancellor in Germany. Doesn't mean it can't happen in Germany - but we're not seeing it yet.

Pat Patterson on :

If poorly researched articles can claim that Sen. Obama's father was an immigrant then just how hard did Thomas Klau work on the rest of the article and how valid are the conclusions of such an article with such dubious factual underpinings? But I suspect that this fact-free Obama boomlet will fade and then the Democrats will get serious about who they will nominate. Perhaps the daughter of a furniture store owner?

Pat Patterson on :

An addendum. I think that other son of an immigrant has a much better chance for national office than Sen. Obama. France could actually elect the son of a Hungarian immigrant, an anti-Communist one at that, Nicholas Sarkozy. So maybe Europe isn't quite as hide bound as some would believe.

2020 on :

Question is how much of the fund raising in Hollywood remains for Obama, now as the democratic silver backs enter the stage. Looks like Hollywood puts its bets on Edwards - and New York is already reserved for Hillary. No money, no reputation, no chance. It's the right time for the wrong race for Obama.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

Thanks for the correction, Pat. I have written written an update concerning this "son of an African immigrant" thing and about Sarkozy. Klau also wrote about Germany/Europe: "exclusion of minorities from leadership positions in society." Though, several children of immigrants are members of the German parliament, which is a leadership position. Though, in contrast to Obama, they are not considered candidates for chancellor. I think Obama's chances to become president in 2008 are exaggerated. There is a lot of hype ("Obamamania") right now. Four years ago, many people thought that the netroots will turn Howard Dean into the next president. He was brought down by a single scream, which apparently did not sound presidential. Or was there more? I don't know much at all about US domestic politics. I was surprised how quick his fall was. Apparently you can rise quickly and fall even faster... This could happen to Obama as well, right? I hope not. Obama comes across as a very likable guy, but he is not very experienced in national and international politics yet. While the likelihood that Obama will decide to run for president and then get nominated by his party and then get elected president by the American people in 2008 seems to be relatively small, the chance that Sarkozy will achieve all that is much bigger. Klau's statement about "exclusion of minorities from leadership positions in society" is also wrong in the business sector. "Exclusion" is an exaggeration, but it is probably true that minorities have a much bigger chance to make it to the top in the US than in Germany (and perhaps in Europe overall).

Pinkerton on :

//Four years ago, many people thought that the netroots will turn Howard Dean into the next president. He was brought down by a single scream, which apparently did not sound presidential. Or was there more?// There is one thing that Howard Dean lacked compared to Obama, and it was charisma. Yes, unfortunately, in the US, this will often be the deciding factor for a vote. I've met Senator B.Obama when he was running for Senator. He lived..lives? in Hyde Park in Chicago, and this is where my daughter was living at the time. He was very nice, friendly, and yes...charismatic. Would I vote for him in the Primary's? I'm not too sure. I'm concerned about many things, one being his signature on a Bankruptsy bill, that was, IMO, a travesty. That shook me to my marrow and I wrote to him, via e-mail, to tell him so. To my disappointment, the return "answer" to my very polite questions was nothing more than a form letter telling me all the great things that Obama is doing for our state. That tells me, that he has become too big for his britches and doesn't care what his constituents think. So, or now...he doesn't get my vote. It's one thing to put on a smile when you meet someone, it's another thing to really listen to their concerns. He didn't listen to my concerns. On the other hand, someone mentioned the race for President in France. I just read an article in the Chicago Tribune this morning about this race and about S. Royal. It sounded as if she is good with the public relations, but never has a real answer on what to do about the issues. I hope France doesn't fall into the trap of electing someone for their charisma....look what Bush did to us! All I heard, when Bush was running for President was that he was the kind of guy they would like to sit and have a beer with. I would rather vote for a President who is competent and knows what he is talking about. I don't care what color, gender, or how beautiful they are...give me someone who knows how to fix the domestic and foreign policies in the US!

JW-Atlantic Review on :

"kind of guy they would like to sit and have a beer with" I have heard about that Bush/Obama comparison as well. Do you think, Al Gore would have a chance now? The fast rise of Obama in national popularity is fascinating. His first national speech at the Democratic convention in 2004 has had a huge influence. What was the last speech that boosted a young politician's career in such a way? I would be skeptical about such a relative newcomer, who is very intelligent, smart, likeable, funny and sounds compassionate and can talk very well, but does not have that much experience and not that much of track record to evaluate. So, I am not a fan of Obama. Having said all that, did you ever get anything more than a form letter from a Senator? Maybe you have to approach Obama in a childish and public fashion, like Nicholas Lovelady did: [url][/url] Nicholas Lovelady got his apology from Obama. And Obama got some extra popularity points for taking the time to respond to this childish guy. Crazy: [url][/url]

Pat Patterson on :

I can think of at least two other examples of great speeches with little lasting effect on the national aspirations of the oraters. First would be Rep.Julian Bond and then later Mayor Mario Cuomo. Both gave very exciting speeches but were found wanting away from the podium. On the other hand Pres. Ronald Reagan gave a 30 minute televised endorsement of Sen. Barry Goldwater in '64 which made Reagan a viable candidate for CA governor then later president. While Mayor Giuliani gave a speech that did much to allay conservative misgivings about his Republican credentials. And luckily for him, Pres. Clinton gave one of the longest and worst speeches ever at the '88 Democratic Convention, everybody either left, slept or got drunk and promptly forgot the speech. American politics oft times has a taste for the door not opened. But the harsh light of the campaign generally reveals the all to human trait of feet of clay.

David on :

Pat, Good points on the value of one speech, but Obama is a charismatic speaker each time he appears. His message of hope and reconciliation resonates not just with Dems.

Pinkerton on :

JW Sometimes those who rise to the top too quickly, fall with a resounding thud, just as quickly. This may be a problem for Obama How he handles this dilemma will be interesting. Bush seemed to have overcome all that was said about his drinking, drug use (along with Laura's drug use), and his ditching his military service. That doesn't mean Obama will be able to get away with anything, though. The right wing swiftboaters are ruthless and the Democrats haven't shown themselves to be willing to fight back as they should. I have the feeling, although this story is not too big as of yet, it will grow with intensity as we approach the primary elections. Well..regarding his apology to Lovelady, Obama doesn't have any qualms about admitting when he was wrong, this is true. This is the ONE thing that I like about him. Unlike our current president who just can't think of anything he'd done wrong (sigh) since he was President... Also, Obama does have a great sense of humor. In times like these, we all need a laugh from time to time. But, like Lovelady, until I actually get an answer to my questions as to why he signed that bill and stood behind Bush in that photo-op, he won't have my vote.

Pinkerton on :

Ooops! Looks like someone on Fox News blurted out about Bush's cocaine use when he was younger when discussing B. Obama's admission in an old book he wrote before going into public offic. Sounds like someone is going to be out of a job on Fox News! :-D

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