Friday, July 25, 2008

Berlin Also Hopes For Sanity in America

A picture says a thousand words. Perhaps, in this case, 200,000 words. If I asked you a year and a half ago if you thought that an American politician who may become president could summon 200,000 screaming Berliners to the Tiergarten for an historic speech... you probably would have thought I was crazy.

Now, try to imagine in your minds eye John McCain standing up there with all those thousands of screaming fans excited about what he has to say and what he stands for. C'mon, just try for a second.

Can't do it... why? Because it would never happen. Having gone to Berlin 2 years ago, I was powerfully struck by how this city, more than any other, represents the cornerstone of modern history. I need not go through all of the events in the past century that has made this so, but Berlin is a city that represented the dividing line of global tension and yet, has once again transformed itself into a world class city that respects art, history, and its place in the world in the most sober and reflective manner... more than any other place I have ever seen.

From the Holocaust Memorial to the Jewish Museum, to the rebuilding of the Reichstag... the city is reborn as a jewel of contemporary thought, art, architecture, progressive thinking and civic pride. The city has taken great pains to permanently enshrine its history, both good and bad, and provide a global symbol for what could be. For this very reason, it is every American politician's dream to give speeches in Berlin for it is in itself, the most powerful symbol of the best and worst of humanity.

This forms the backdrop of the Barak speech. Having watched it, I saw the same gentleman who has captivated millions here, and did so again over there. Yet, some if not most of our MSM, never to waste an opportunity to criticize even at the most inappropriate time, has found fault in his short 25 minute speech. Does the New York Times realize that there is a time and a place for everything when they say in their headline: "Obama, Vague on Issues, Pleases Crowd in Germany"? Or David Brooks in his Op Ed piece:

"But he has grown accustomed to putting on this sort of saccharine show for the rock concert masses, and in Berlin his act jumped the shark. His words drift far from reality, and not only when talking about the Senate Banking Committee. His Berlin Victory Column treacle would have made Niebuhr sick to his stomach.

Obama has benefited from a week of good images. But substantively, optimism without reality isn’t eloquence. It’s just Disney."

Does David Brooks think that a presidential candidate on tour in Germany is obligated to give a hard nose policy speech to 200,000 hopeful Germans that the United States has not transformed into the Nazi Germany of their past? Because from their vantage point, we have become dangerously close. What is this small mindedness? What did they expect to hear from him?

Any idiot knows that he was there to give more of the same type of beautifully spoken rhetorical speeches that has made him famous throughout the world because of one simple and elegant idea... he represents the best of our hopes and dreams, and the rest of the world's. Could the New York Times have simply acknowledged that the purpose of this speech was opium for the masses and nothing more.

This was not the time, nor the place for specific policy speeches and hard nose thinking. The distinct purpose of this speech was to let the Germans have a close up glimpse of the next President of the United States and hold a glimmer of hope that we are not the monsters that they have seen over the past 7 years. He succeeded. David Brooks... you're wrong and you're small minded. Just because you are growing tired of this rhetoric, does not mean that the Germans or anyone else is... particularly when the man is not yet president, and therefore appropriate to be short on specifics and long on values.

I'll let you make up your own mind... the speech:

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