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Obama speaks! Berlin listens

July 24, 2008 |  8:30 pm

Barack Obama's speech in Berlin draws a crowd of 200,000  ...and immediately starts proselytizing. From a Spiegel Online article titled, "No. 44 has spoken":

Anyone who saw Barack Obama at Berlin's Siegessäule on Thursday could recognize that this man will become the 44th president of the United States. He is more than ambitious -- he wants to lay claim to become the president of the world.

And that's probably not even the most googly-eyed German out there. Just in case you don't remember, Deutschland: he's ours.

The Nation also oozes praise, but makes an interesting point on political semantics:

When George W. Bush talks about "freedom," Europe groans. When Barack Obama invokes the same word, Berlin cheers.

To much of the world, Bush's talk of freedom is code for messianism, arrogance and empire. Obama reframed the debate--and reclaimed the word--with his spectacular speech in Berlin today, when he spoke of "the dream of freedom" as something both Americans and Europeans shared and could be proud of.

Whatever happened to the presumptive Democratic nominee's "unity" theme? Maybe he's still smarting over his flub on Jerusalem.

The Corner ribs Obama for not giving the U.S. enough historical credit:

Obama came to Berlin to build up his image on national security.  If only appearances matter, then he did himself some good.  The substance of his remarks was different.  He credited the 1948 Berlin Airlift to international cooperation.  “It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads,” he said, as if some global vibe called aircraft from the vasty deep.  Actually, it was Harry Truman.  As Elizabeth Spalding recounts in The First Cold Warrior, “At first, Truman was almost alone in thinking that an airlift would work as an effective response to the Soviets.”

Truman made a tough, risky decision.  That’s what presidents do.  Obama did not acknowledge this point.  He didn’t even mention Truman’s name.

Reason has a more forward-looking take:

Most of our foreign policy debate has focused on Iraq, in part because that's where John McCain wants it to focus, in part because that's where our forces are at the moment. I definitely agree with Andrew Bacevich that an Obama victory discredits the Iraq project, while a McCain victory validates it. But McCain and Obama want the same thing, for Americans to be proud of their country again vis-a-vis its engagement in foreign conflicts. Put another way: I don't think an Obama victory discredits neoconservatism. He's offering neoconservatism with a human face.

McCain rips Obama for not sticking to native soil before making it to the White House, but MSNBC notes:

However, on June 20, McCain himself gave a speech in Canada -- to the Economic Club of Canada -- in which he applauded NAFTA's successes. An implicit message behind that speech was that Obama had been critical of the trade accord. Also, McCain's trip to Canada was paid for by the campaign.

Poor McCain. As his latest video shows, he's just jealous.

Question for you:

-- Amina Khan

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