Tag Archives: presidential election

Obama’s European Vacation

The site of the planned Obama speech in Berlin is generating a significant amount of buzz in the German press. The Obama folks and their socialist admirers wanted the Brandenburg Gate, a controversial choice for both Americans and Germans. As a symbol of German unification, many natives wondered how Obama had helped tear down the wall; after all, he was still a law student at Harvard. And as the site of one of the most historic addresses ever by an American President, many devoted Reaganites felt the mere idea was tantamount to sacrilege.

The Brandenburg uproar forced Obama’s posse to settle on the Victory Column, yet another controversial choice. Deputy leader of the free Democrats argued (from der Spiegel)

“The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France,” the deputy told Bild am Sonntag. He raised the question as to “whether Barack Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world.”

Historical ignorance aside, the most disturbing part of the speech, is the speech. When has an American Presidential candidate ever given a campaign address in a foreign country? But more importantly, when has a foreign presidential candidate ever addressed an American audience? I can’t think of one, which makes me wonder why Obama has thought it prudent to stand before a European audience to rally admirers, most of whom aren’t eligible to vote.

And memo to the American press who will cover this speech, and who continue to mischaracterize Obama’s European support as widespread and sweeping: Europeans aren’t monoliths. Just because you might have spent two months at a foreign bureau, presumably sharing croissants with American journalists, doesn’t qualify you to make a judgment about Obama’s messiah status in the old continent. Just because Germans are disturbingly obsessed with Obama, doesn’t automatically correlate to an Italian fervor over a McCain defeat. There are many plausible explanations for the German-Obama swoon:

  1. Perhaps as the most racist European country, Germans are suffering from ‘white guilt’
  2. They hated Bush more than other Europeans, so they view an Obama victory as a Bush rebuke.
  3. They heard rumors that Obama likes wienerschnitzel.
  4. The largest portion of Obama admirers are former East German communists and recognize a fellow comrade when they see one.
  5. They fell in love with Michelle Obama after she admitted to not previously being ‘proud of America’.

Obama to Make Berlin Speech?

To some conservatives, Obama’s habit of invoking Reagan’s name on the campaign trail in an admiring, deferential way, has come across as self-serving and transparent. I suppose it’s akin to former vice-President Dan Quale’s mention of Kennedy in the debate with the “what’s his name” he ran against the first go-around. Even though, honestly, I didn’t see the harm in it.

So, I’ll give Obama a pass for his opportunistic use of the father of modern conservatism’s name, though it’s tedious nonetheless. However, I wouldn’t be inclined to forgive a speech at the site of one of the greatest addresses by a President.

From Der Spiegel:

Plans for a visit by Barack Obama, the presumed Democratic candidate for president of the United States, have moved forward — slowly — in Berlin, where he may give a speech before the Brandenburg Gate this summer.

Evidently, Germany’s ambassador is keen on making it happen.

Germany’s ambassador to Washington, Klaus Scharioth, has reportedly worked for weeks to convince Obama’s campaign that the candidate’s only large European appearance should take place in Berlin.

I wonder if the Ambassador has been in touch with the McCain campaign to inquire about his European schedule, if he has any. Hmmm. I’m also curious if there is any historical precedent for a US Presidential candidate making campaign speeches to foreign audiences.

Kennedy and Reagan both made major addresses, but on both occasions they were delivered by Presidents, not aspirational wannabes.

Update: Looks like the Chancellor’s office has put the brakes on the planned speech:

From Der Spiegel:

“The Brandenburg Gate is the most famous and history-rich site in Germany,” the Chancellery source said. In the past, the location has only been used on very special occasions for political speeches by world leaders. In the past, the location has been used only on very special occasions for political speeches by world leaders. And it has been reserved for use only by elected American presidents, not candidates. And it has been reserved for use only by elected American presidents, not candidates. The decision on whether the Democrat can speak at the location ultimately lies with the Berlin state government. The decision on whether the Democrat can speak at the location ultimately lies with the Berlin state government. Chancellery officials are concerned that the Brandenburg Gate could be turned into an “arbitrary stage” that other campaigns could also seek to use in the future. Chancellery officials are concerned that the Brandenburg Gate could be turned into an “arbitrary stage” that other campaigns could also seek to use in the future.

It’s a traditional practice for US presidential candidates to visit Germany before the election. It’s a traditional practice for U.S. presidential candidates to visit Germany before the election. However, the source pointed out that agreements can only be made with elected presidents. However, the source pointed out that agreements can only be made with elected presidents. The source also noted that a the German federal government would also be equally pleased to play host to a visit by Republican candidate John McCain. The source also noted that a the German federal government would also be equally pleased to play host to a visit by Republican candidate John McCain. The door is just as open for him, the source said. The door is just as open for him, the source said.