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July 24, 2008

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http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/pattysc/gGxydF> The prepared remarks. No video that I can find yet, though.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25835684#25835684> Here ya' go. And http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/07/24/obama.words/index.html>here is CNN's transcript. In case you think Obama's site is a dirty rotten liar. ^.^

Haven't heard the speech but saw on one of those TV news scrolls while eating lunch at a deli that 200,000 showed up in Berlin for the speech.

That's hard to believe -- 200,000!

I just come from the speech. I think he played it safe and said nothing that could be (reasonably) construed as controversial. He didn't even take the risk of directly saying: You (Germans) should send more troops to Afghanistan, although it was clearly implied.
Talented speaker meets friendly audience resulting in no real surprises.
In order not to be mistaken: I do not regret having gone there. Interesting experience.
---
Too few metal detectors. The last 50 meters took me an hour and there was still room for more people directly in front of the podium.

"What'd you think?"

I thought the words and ideas had great meaning. I think it reads very well, and I agree with it.

[...] But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

[...]

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

[...]

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

[...]

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

[...]

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

[...]

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

[...]

We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

I'm for all that.

Y'all?

"He didn't even take the risk of directly saying: You (Germans) should send more troops to Afghanistan, although it was clearly implied."

Speech:

But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
You may have missed the entirely explicit "and your troops."

It's in the CNN transcript, as well.

The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation.

May have happened when I tried to get an even better view and walked into the superposition zone of the loudspeakers. I only remember "support" or something in that area but not specific "troops".

I agree with Hartmut: nothing controversial but well-scripted.

Best line of the speech:

"If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope."

With the seventh anniversary of 9-11 approaching, I can't recall President Bush saying anything as hopeful and coherent as that.

Pretty cool that you were there, Hartmut. Was it a mostly young crowd?

Imho that sounds more like a call to continue staying than a call to send more troops.

Imho that sounds more like a call to continue staying than a call to send more troops.

Actually, my favorite bit is his inserting the following question, after asking whether we're willing to stand up for the human rights of various people around the world:

"Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?"

Now, this shouldn't be controversial, but for the U.S. today, it may be, and it needs to be said.

". . . stand for the rule of law?"

A novel idea.

"I agree with Hartmut: nothing controversial but well-scripted."

Version soon to appear as translated on various rightwing sites: "We must surrender to Al Qaeda as soon as possible; I call on you all to become dhimmis -- as soon as my civilian national security force of illegal Mexican immigrants is ready to impose this on you, along with mandatory homosexuality, and 300% taxes; now, join me, and my Vice-Presidential running mate, Osama bin Laden Marx, in denouncing my honkie grandmother, you Nazis."

Re: “Disciples”

Obama went overseas and was critical of the United States of America. That is a no no. Obama will not reflect on criticism directed towards him though. It is not in his nature. He will just get angry and have his JNM.

But the reporters will reflect on the criticism directed towards the reporters. The three anchors on the plane vs. one camera at the airport will stick. They will continue to be mocked by the right and will react by trying to prove that they are objective. Stable college graduates go into the world and strive to do something.

College graduates who strive to report on the actions of others while having their face on TV are not stable. Their flaw is that they need positive feedback on a regular basis. Lawyers are similar, but their condition is generally not as advanced. Politicians’ conditions are generally more advanced. Obama is a record-breaker.*

The arrogance and thin skin of reporters will trump their ideology. And they will begin to be critical of Obama. Which will accelerate his JNM. See his dad’s life story.

*In accordance with the posting rules, no disrespect is intended towards reporters, lawyers, politicians, or Obama supporters.

Adolf Osama bin Laden Marx . . .

Scary indeed how right-wing blogs, and Fox Noise, will interpret the speech.

Obama's poor grandmom . . .

As ridiculous as I find the notion that a nine day touch-and-go style trip of several countries somehow enhances one's Commander-in-Chief credentials, I cannot help but feel that this trip, and today's speech, have really helped.

The quality of being "Presidential" is elusive, but there was no doubt about it today- Obama looked like a World Leader.

The speech reminded me just how good he really is, and how excited I am about his candidacy.

"Re: 'Disciples'"

Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion. Assertion.

Very convincing.

From cite: "Obama is not used to being criticized."

Nonsensical lie. But people who find the argument by assertion convincing think it will convince others.

Wait, do you need me to support that claim somehow?

Unsurprisingly, the horrors of a polity not being just WASPs.

"Obama went overseas and criticized the United States of America."

Ding-ding-ding!

BOB, you win the prize for pointing that out first.

Surely, you can't be serious.

Y'all?

Mistake to do it IMO.

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

Expect to see that in an RNC ad. Developing meme is that he’s acting like he’s running for president of the world. I don’t think it will play well in the heartland.

McCain was smart IMO to run ads in the three US cities named Berlin today, doing it in all US cities named Paris tomorrow.

Beyond the speech:

Getting a bit ahead of himself I think.

Snubbing the military is usually not a great idea.

Meanwhile, as he gets bashed here and many other places over Iraq, McCain is closing the gap in battleground states over Iraq of all things.

I think this link should work, Publius:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25835684#25835684

John Jay was not a WASP Gary. He was from France. The Federalist Papers are pretty good though, I think even Publius has read them. They, in my opinion, represent what is probably the high point of Western Civilization.

We all know that Barack Obama is a Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Chicago. But when he goes overseas and calls himself a Citizen of the World, I’m kind of skeptical that Obama has read the Federalist Papers. Either that or he does not agree with them. Maybe there is a comprehension issue.

OCSteve: they do recognize that 'people of the world' was a riff off the line from the speech he quoted by the mayor of Berlin? And that he didn't think it was respectful to go to the military base on a trip paid for by the campaign, as opposed to the CODEL part in Kuwait/Afghanistan/Iraq, where he did visit the military?

Sigh...

On the other hand, if the best the RNC can do is note that he addressed people outside the US, I don't know that we have that much to worry about. Though I personally plan to act as though we're 30 points behind when I'm out registering voters, etc.

OCSteve, you may be right. ButI give the good folks in the heartland more credit than that.

Why would they take it as a bad thing that the rest of the world likes our president?

Then again, as you note, the polls seem awfully close for what should be a Democratic year.

BOB, I've only been to England and Russia in my 45 years on the planet but I would take it as a compliment if someone called me a "citizen of the world."

Maybe it's because we've had eight years of President Bush and have now listened to Bush Lite for the past year on the campaign trail but when giving a speech isn't the speaker allowed some poetic license or a good turn of phrase.

OCSteve, I assume you also thought that McCain's decision to go to a German restaurant was also a good contrast. :) I mean, is he attempting to try and lamely copy Obama?

The only thing missing from the McCain campaign during Obama's trip was McCain going to a synagogue while Obama was in Israel and going to a US military base while Obama was in Iraq.

I'd also add that I thought the attempt to go out to the oil rig only to have it cancelled by the weather and the oil spill was a nice touch.

Here's what McCain thinks, as he sticks his foot in his mouth again:

“I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States, but that’s a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make."

As the post points out, is Canada not another country? Is he so senile that he can't remember that he did just that only a month ago?

Full post can be found here.

"Then again, as you note, the polls seem awfully close for what should be a Democratic year."

Right-wing meme!
In modern America, presidential polls just don't diverge that much, that's all there is to it.
--------

Now, if you want controversy, does the public actually buy total nuclear disarmament? I mean, I know I'm on board, but is the country?

Hilzoy: … they do recognize that 'people of the world' was a riff off the line from the speech he quoted by the mayor of Berlin?

All that matters is that they can cut that line and similar lines from the video. ;(

And that he didn't think it was respectful to go to the military base on a trip paid for by the campaign…

Well, he has been a little tough to pin down on whether the trip is a campaign event, a Senator on a fact finding trip, or a trip by a private citizen.

Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

Well, the “proud citizen of the United States” and a sitting Senator blew off scheduled visits to Rammstein and Landstuhl as a scheduling issue, then noted “we’ve got some down time tonight”. Then said it was because that leg of the trip was financed by the campaign. Better to have never scheduled the visits to begin with.

Which will accelerate his JNM

A Jack Nicholson Moment? What does that sounds like?

"You can't handle the truth"?
"Here's Johnny"?
"What if this is as good as it gets"?
"Somebody get me a f**king weiner before I die"?
"I want you to hold it between your knees"?

So many to choose from. Can't wait to see which one it turns out to be. It might be highly entertaining.

Watch your potatoes, dude.

Thanks -

I think a little bit of "fnck the troops" is in order every now and then.

"Snubbing the military is usually not a great idea."

The stated linked criticism: "On the other hand, the campaign apparently has no problem in keeping this event on its schedule:"

So you're saying that Obama should have cancelled the highlight of his trip to Germany, his big speech, instead? That's at least what Ed Morrissey directly says.

I don't actually think that would have been a good idea, but YMMV.

Ed goes on to provide the campaign response:

“During his trip as part of the CODEL to Afghanistan and Iraq, Senator Obama visited the combat support hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad and had a number of other visits with the troops. For the second part of his trip, the senator wanted to visit the men and women at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to express his gratitude for their service and sacrifice. The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.”
Ed then claims:
And CBS gets the opposite story:

“Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world,” Obama said precluding the buzz that his speech today is a campaign rally.

So which is it? A campaign event or not a campaign event?

Of course, this is nonsense. The big speech was an event paid for by his campaign: you'd rather it had been paid for by taxpayers? Saying “Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world,” is a contradiction how, exactly? Is it forbidden to say you're speaking as a proud citizen of the United States? According to what rule of what?

See gnats, straining at.

BOB: "The Federalist Papers are pretty good though"

Why I've recommended them to everyone and anyone since at least junior high school age.

"John Jay was not a WASP Gary. He was from France."

John Jay.

John Jay was born on December 12, 1745, to a wealthy family of merchants in New York City.

[...]

Jay had numerous rich and prominent ancestors and relatives including his maternal grandfather Jacobus Van Cortlandt.

[...]

His great grandfather was Pierre Jay, who left France on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes when all his worldly property was confiscated [1] because of his Protestant religion.

John Jay:
One of these men is John Jay. Born on December 12, 1745, to a prominent and wealthy family in the Province of New York, Jay attended Columbia University and then practiced law.
Reliably accurate as ever, BOB.

OCSteve: "All that matters is that they can cut that line and similar lines from the video."

Steve, liars can always cut and paste anything into something alarming sounding, and they'll do it so long as enough people are stupid enough to not see through it, and let them shamelessly get away with it. So what? What could ever be done about that by an opposing candidate, other than cut their tongue out?

"Well, he has been a little tough to pin down on whether the trip is a campaign event, a Senator on a fact finding trip, or a trip by a private citizen."

No, he hasn't. Different parts of the trip are paid for differently, just like almost every CODEL ever. It looks bad to get caught sticking the taxpayers with your fancy dinners, etc.

"Then said it was because that leg of the trip was financed by the campaign. Better to have never scheduled the visits to begin with."

Clearly, he's not trustworthy to be President because of this vital issue.

There's always pissant sh*t like this one can mold out of dust; if this is the level of muck thrown at Obama: oh noes!

Fwiw, when I heard the 'cancelled the troops' thing, I thought: yes, because if he hadn't, it would be all "Obama is just using the troops as props for his political campaign."

I mean, if getting a couple of hundred thousand Germans to wave American flags, and (more to the point) to applaud a vision of what America can be, is officially a Bad Thing in the eyes of the right, I suppose anything is.

As Matt Welch says, too much retro. "when we must come together to save this planet", it would've been better if he started singing the We Are The World song. What a classic tune!

I think it is unfortunate that this discussion about being a citizen of the US vs one of the world is entwined with all manner of extraneous crap (DNFTT folks!) because this seems like a fault line between conservatism and liberalism and I'd be interested in discussing that without waving the troops or funding. The Matt Welch column that LT Nixon is interesting in that regard, though I thought conservatives were all about retro... ;^)

Gary: So you're saying that Obama should have cancelled the highlight of his trip to Germany, his big speech, instead?

What I said was, “Better to have never scheduled the visits to begin with” than blow them off. As I noted – he had time to kill in the evening. And now he has delayed his departure tomorrow. K-town and Landstuhl are an easy flight from Berlin (couple hundred miles).

See gnats, straining at. […] There's always pissant sh*t like this one can mold out of dust.

Perhaps you are better at predicting what kind of events become defining moments in these things, or what seemingly pissant sh*t can go from blogs to the front page of the papers and lead the cable news shows. I readily admit I’m not that good at it. Still – just to be safe I’d avoid anything that can be spun as “Obama snubs wounded troops for a night out in Berlin”.

I think I agree, OCSteve: not to have scheduled it at all would have been better.

The more I think about it, the odder I find the idea that there was something wrong about being liked by lots of Germans, though.

OT - admin: Can I ask that the MSNBC video embedded in the post below be turned into a link? Since it appeared, there is no longer anything visible on either the left or right sidebar, and the status bar at the bottom of the browser window says only 'video player'.

My browser is Explorer 6.0.x
(Save the preaching, please.)

Hilzoy makes a valid point--the right will hammer Obama regardless. The point she doesn't make is that in analogous circumstances, the left does the same damn thing. I quit the Republicans in '03 locally and '07 nationally due to the intransigence, hypocrisy and corruption of the base and the politicians they force on the rest of us in the primaries--sometimes these things take a while--but that doesn't mean the Democratic base or the politicians produced by their primaries are any better. For the most part, I find them as tiresomely intolerant as the right.

Obama's speech was just fine. Only a partisan could get really angry about it. I am one of the many who are concerned that an Obama presidency would match or even exceed the Carter administration for passivity. People like me should take considerable comfort in his emphasis on fighting terrorism, even if we might disagree on means, manner and methods.

Hilzoy makes a valid point--the right will hammer Obama regardless. The point she doesn't make is that in analogous circumstances, the left does the same damn thing. I quit the Republicans in '03 locally and '07 nationally due to the intransigence, hypocrisy and corruption of the base and the politicians they force on the rest of us in the primaries--sometimes these things take a while--but that doesn't mean the Democratic base or the politicians produced by their primaries are any better. For the most part, I find them as tiresomely intolerant as the right.

Obama's speech was just fine. Only a partisan could get really angry about it. I am one of the many who are concerned that an Obama presidency would match or even exceed the Carter administration for passivity. People like me should take considerable comfort in his emphasis on fighting terrorism, even if we might disagree on means, manner and methods.

I thought it was an excellent speech. Genocide in Darfur sounds refreshingly more honest than the wordsmithing of Rwanda.

"People like me should take considerable comfort in his emphasis on fighting terrorism, even if we might disagree on means, manner and methods."

And people like me, who think the whole damned War-on-Terror thing is at best a waste of time and at worst a threat to our way of life.... well, we've got enough red meat tossed our way to keep us happy for the moment.

AD--yep, something there for everyone--just like a politician.

Wait, if he can speak there not as a candidate, not as President, but as a citizen of the U.S. and of the world, that means I CAN SCHEDULE MY OWN SPEECH TOO!! Angela, are the zoological gardens available next month?

What a bunch of blather. Putting to one side the misspoken (and uncorrected) words (well, maybe he thought their English wasn't THAT good), the prose just wasn't inspirational. I am as moved by the Berlin Airlift as anyone, but I couldn't tell if he really cared. It was probably just nerves-he sounded nervous clear up until the end (then it was pretty good).

Maybe this sort of stuff makes Chris Matthew's leg tingle uncontrollably, but (sorry to say) not me. Who are his speech writers anyway? Very lame attempt. If you're going to go as a candidate (duh!) to a foreign country, set up a large crowed, etc. etc. the speech should match the bravura. The absence of excellence left the audacity of hope as, well, just audacity.

"The Matt Welch column that LT Nixon is interesting in that regard"

I've liked Matt ever since the good old days of early 2002, but in this case I think he's simply wrinkling his nose at soaring rhetoric. That's fine, but hardly any more of a substantial complaint than is the uplifting/moving (if you have a taste for that sort of thing, and not if you don't) rhetoric. One could make the same complaint about most of Reagan's speeches.

As for the citizen of America/world thing, it's another silly iteration of exaggeration wherein the descendents of the John Birch Society wax wroth about how black helicopters are waiting to fly over as the UN turns us all into zombie-communist-dark-skinned people and steal our goods, and that's what's meant whenever "citizen of the world" or any rhetoric of that nature is trotted out, and sometimes some excessively naive leftwingers was romantic about how we should all just get along, ignoring the fact that democratic structures, actually enforced guarantees of individual rights, independent judiciaries, and other strong institutions are necessary for freedom and democracy to actually exist across the world.

It's more useful, I think, to focus on specific measures, and discussing what can be realistically accomplished, and specifically would and would not be near and mid-term goals, than waxing into gauzy rhetoric in such such discussions, whether of the paranoid, or kumbaya, persuasion.

Hilzoy: "The more I think about it, the odder I find the idea that there was something wrong about being liked by lots of Germans, though."

You may have forgotten that Old Europe is effete and decadent, and full of Lilliputian softies who want to tie us down and prevent us from being the manly, free-acting, country that we should be, what with their gay "treaties," and "UN," and "EU," and "oh, the global warming," doubts about military power being the first answer to everything, and other wussy notions from their dying socialism, and their countries falling apart because of national health care system and excessive taxes and subversion by Teh Muslims Who Are Taking Over Everywhere!!!

Meanwhile, it's going to be Morning In America Again with Strong John McCain, and bacon for everyone! (But no pork-barrels!)

McCain's forthcoming slogan, I'm told: Biscuits For Every American!

(Subtext: Obama wants to abort your chickens, but I'll serve you eggs! Because we have to make omelettes, damnit; just not French omelettes!)

Liberal japonius, I feel sorry for conservatives if they can't be "citizens of the world" and Americans at the same time.

"I am one of the many who are concerned that an Obama presidency would match or even exceed the Carter administration for passivity."

Might I ask what specific areas or policies or activities you feel the Carter admin was passive about? They began the covert action of supporting Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion.

Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

The Carter Admin began our post-Vietnam military buildup:
Jimmy Carter's Legacy, Angelo Codevilla, The Claremont Institute

We should not forget that it was Mr. Carter who began the great anti-Soviet military buildup generally attributed to his successor. Mr. Carter would have built 200 MX missiles; Ronald Reagan meekly accepted 50. Mr. Carter imposed the grain embargo on the Soviet Union; Mr. Reagan lifted it. Mr. Carter kept Americans out of the 1980 Summer Olympics. Mr. Carter sent weapons to the Afghanis. Mr. Carter's National Security Council, not Mr. Reagan's, stated the goal of forcefully changing the character of Nicaragua's Sandinista regime.

More:
Contrary to Rosen's contention, statistics from the Office of Management and Budget clearly show that while federal defense spending as a percentage of the GDP did, in fact, decrease following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, defense spending as a percentage of the GDP increased throughout Carter's presidency -- from 4.7 percent in fiscal year 1979 (October 1, 1978, to September 30, 1979), to 4.9 percent in FY 1980. Congress again increased military spending from 4.9 percent GDP to 5.2 percent GDP from FY 1980 to FY 1981 (the final budget approved during the Carter administration). Over the entire course of Carter's presidency, spending for national defense increased from 4.7 percent GDP to 5.2 percent GDP.

[chart]

As The New York Times (accessed through the Nexis database) reported on June 18, 1980, the last year of Carter's presidency:

President Carter and Secretary of Defense Harold Brown have repeatedly argued for steady, sustained growth with the rate of military spending pegged to the gross national product, which is the sum of the nation's goods and services. In March, however, they revised their earlier projection and raised the military spending target from slightly over 5 percent of G.N.P. this year to 5.7 percent by 1985.

Defense spending authority increased overall under Carter, rising by 2.8 percentage points from 1980 to 1981, the final budget during Carter's tenure, marking a trend that continued under the Reagan administration.

There are more charts and links there.

Carter established a national energy policy that would have made for an immensely different past thirty years if it hadn't been immediately dismantled by his successor.

He launched a military operation against Iran to attempt to free our hostages; of course, he might be criticized for not having done so sooner. Is there more that you have in mind?

Gary says about how black helicopters are waiting to fly over as the UN turns us all into zombie-communist-dark-skinned people and steal our goods, and that's what's meant whenever "citizen of the world"

You left out the Bilderberg Group, Gary, tsk tsk.

"The more I think about it, the odder I find the idea that there was something wrong about being liked by a lot of Germans, though."

I imagine the Right is licking its chops over Obama's next stop: France.

"Wait, if he can speak there not as a candidate, not as President, but as a citizen of the U.S. and of the world, that means I CAN SCHEDULE MY OWN SPEECH TOO!! Angela, are the zoological gardens available next month?"

If you can pay for it, I bet they'd let you.

It is my understanding that so-called "Rock-n-Rollers", some kind of faddish youth musical movement from America, have been known to stage large events in Germany, and quite often.

A "Rock-n-Roller" from England, by the name of "Roger Waters" once held some kind of huge event at the site of the Berlin Wall, with German soldiers taking part driving vehicles across the huge stage, and with people hanging from giant cranes.

Not quite cricket, in my opinion, but there's no accounting for the misbehaviors of youth.

Regarding "citizen of the world" rhetoric, over at Andrew Sullivan's blog they posted some examples of Republicans using the phrase, including Reagan.

To be clearer: I understood the business about Kerry's "global test". I didn't agree with it -- I thought he was basically saying that we should have, um, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind -- but I understood why someone who thought that he did mean that we were going to constantly subordinate everything to a global popularity contest, or something, might mind.

What I don't get is why the mere fact that people outside this country like someone, divorced from any suggestion that those people will influence his decisions, or that he will constrain his conduct to be popular with them, or anything -- why that should be a bad thing. I mean, would it be better if everyone hated our guts? Why?

Hilzoy: The more I think about it, the odder I find the idea that there was something wrong about being liked by lots of Germans, though.

One of those left/right disconnects as LJ suggests above. Nothing wrong with being liked by citizens of another country. But… (Take this as explanation rather than strictly personal sentiment…)

You’ll get 68,300 hits on google right now for (obama "president of the world"). There are many on the right who understand that an American president has to deal with the world, or at least world leaders. But they strongly feel that first and foremost – the president must be an American president – putting America first in all things.

A speech crafted to please Europeans is not going to make them happy.

And McCain is striking a cord with many of them this week. He’s not trying to copy Obama as JoshA suggested above. He visits a German diner in Columbus, Ohio and makes the point that he’s concerned with their issues while Obama is off impressing the Germans.

The McCain campaign put out a statement after Obama’s speech today pushing the same themes as the candidate did–that Obama is acting as though he is already the president while McCain is focused on average Americans:

“While Barack Obama took a premature victory lap today in the heart of Berlin, proclaiming himself a ‘citizen of the world,’ John McCain continued to make his case to the American citizens who will decide this election,” Spokesperson Tucker Bounds said in an e-mailed statement, “Barack Obama offered eloquent praise for this country, but the contrast is clear. John McCain has dedicated his life to serving, improving and protecting America. Barack Obama spent an afternoon talking about it.”

And tomorrow… why tomorrow he’s going to visit those French people!

Here's an audio clip of the original "people of the world" riff by Berlin mayor Ernst Reuter in 1948. I've always loved the (well justified) pathos and emotion in this speech.

OCSteve: that's the thing: I didn't hear any suggestion in the speech that he wasn't going to be an American president first. And it wasn't really a speech designed to appeal to Europeans. Democracy Arsenal is, as far as I know, right on this point (though I'd love to hear from actual Germans):

"Midway through his speech in Berlin, Obama brought up the awkward subject of European efforts in Afghanistan. Germans have become very opposed to the war in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. CRS noted that support for the war in Afghanistan declined to just 34 percent in Germany. The Germans continue to maintain strict caveats on their troop deployments which prevents them from being deployed into intense combat. Germany has also resisted calls from Secretary Gates among others to increase their meager 3,200 troop deployment and to remove the caveats on their use. But Obama did not shy away from confronting Germany and Europe on this issue."

Likewise, I could be wrong, but I took the parts about immigrants and breaking down walls between Christians and Muslims to be an indirect way of broaching the subject of Germany's (and other European countries') relations with their Muslim immigrant populations.

In general, I thought that there were a number of pointed bits in there for his European audience. I also thought -- fwiw -- that he held back, rhetorically, so as to minimize the "gazillions of swooning people" effect. I've seen him look tired, but this time, I didn't think that was what was going on. Though of course I could be completely wrong.

What I don't get is why the mere fact that people outside this country like someone, divorced from any suggestion that those people will influence his decisions, or that he will constrain his conduct to be popular with them, or anything -- why that should be a bad thing. I mean, would it be better if everyone hated our guts? Why?

Many people don't deal with foreigners on a regular basis, so when they think about Europeans, they have to fall back on rumor and generalized anxieties. At that moment, they think about foreigners competing for their jobs. I also think there's some amount of class distinction going on here: many people think of Europeans as wealthy effete overeducated snobs who look down on hard working Murikans like them. And in that instant, all the insecurities about not being good enough, about one's "betters" looking down on them become affiliated with "those" Europeans. The fact that every few months we hear about how European schools are better or Europeans are taller or what not only reinforces the notion that Americans might be inferior and that foreigners are looking down on them.

The point here is that when many people hear that "foreigners like Obama", they don't interpret the word foreigners in a value neutral way to mean "people that live outside the US"; rather, they hear it loaded down with all sorts of emotions seeded in resentment. Its not about europeans per se: its about everyone who ever looked down on them and said they weren't good enough. And so talking to the Europeans is a slap in the face to these people: it screams to them that Obama doesn't think they're good enough, at least not compared with those effete snobs in Europe.

He visits a German diner in Columbus, Ohio and makes the point that he’s concerned with their issues while Obama is off impressing the Germans.

And last month McCain was off trying to impress Canada by making speeches there. Has he forgotten that due to his old age? Is he just a hypocrite? A liar? He thinks his constituency is made up mainly of morons? All of the above? Or is this just another episode of It's OK If You Are A Republican?

And does McCain think his constituency is so mind-bogglingly stupid that they do not know that putting America first depends on having allies?

Come on. No matter what speech Obama gave today, or where, it was going to be criticized by the usual suspects in a completely stupid, glaringly hypocritical way. No matter what.

I've liked Matt ever since the good old days of early 2002, but in this case I think he's simply wrinkling his nose at soaring rhetoric.

Yes, I'm not at all sure what Matt Welch would prefer to replace that. Also, I find it very interesting that LT Nixon finds talk of being a citizen of the world 'retro'. I don't mean that as snark, but I think that indicates a fault line in conservatism, which places those opposed to internationalism on one side and those who are up for it on another. Of course, it is not a new fault line, but one could view Obama as making a decision to pry that fault line open because those who support some sort of engagement with the rest of the world as being in the majority. I feel like the Bush admin has covered over that by way of the unilateral action, so that those who might think we ought to deal with the outside world get some, albeit with neocon swirls.

hilzoy hits at this from another angle when she says

What I don't get is why the mere fact that people outside this country like someone... should be a bad thing.

I think that the blend is those who feel that if a foreign country wants us to do something, we should do the opposite, just to assert our independence, another group of those raised on the mother's milk of small government and are deeply suspicious of UN/international initiatives, and a third group who have attached their wagon so firmly to the Republican one that the idea of accepting that Obama has something worthwhile to say is an anathama, plus a hopefully small minority of true racists (which, in a country based on immigration, is always an exercise in cognitive dissonance). This is not to say that there are overlaps, and I'm sure that people could be in more than one group at once, but there is a difference between a person who is suspicious of the UN because they don't think any bureaucracy can be trusted and those who are suspicious because there are too many brown and yellow people associated with the enterprise.

In preview, I see OCSteve has posted insightfully on this and the explanation that it is an us vs. them phenomenon, and McCain wants to emphasize the us. I admit that there is some distance between this and being racist, and the discussion has to concentrate there, though I see the shadow of the Southern Strategy, where something that might be acceptable in one way is actually a wink and a nudge to racist tendencies.

And it may work, as the number often quoted for Americans holding passports is 25%, (cite) though that has increased with the requiring of passports for going to Canada and Mexico. I believe that Obama is taking another gamble here. I think it is one solidly based in demographics, future trends and such, but it is a gamble.

now_what: Just attempting to add some possible explanation from this side of the fence. I’ll leave the justifications up to others.

There are many on the right who understand that an American president has to deal with the world, or at least world leaders. But they strongly feel that first and foremost – the president must be an American president – putting America first in all things.

The only problem with 'many on the right' is that they have no clue what 'putting America first' MEANS. Or perhaps they have their own idiosyncratic definition of 'America'. They certainly have not turned their chest-thumping disdain for world opinion into anything like measurable improvement in the lives of most Americans. At best, they have made life more comfortable for the Limbaughs and Hannitys who peddle "patriotism" as a substitute for actual national accomplishment.

-- TP

Hilzoy: In general, I thought that there were a number of pointed bits in there for his European audience. I also thought -- fwiw -- that he held back, rhetorically, so as to minimize the "gazillions of swooning people" effect.

But the folks I’m thinking of are not going to know that. They heard about the buildup – that this was a big event, probably the Brandenburg Gate stuff, etc. They’ll see selected sound bites, but never the whole thing.

OCSteve: yes, I know. Sigh.

But fwiw: what he actually did, imho, was to give a good speech one of whose main points is: we all really do have to get behind the attempt to deal with problems like terrorism, which are truly global and truly problems; and the fact that you all (Europeans) don't like Bush should not preclude your backing the general idea (as opposed to its execution to date.) Knowing that he has a following in Europe, one of the main things he did was to use that to make a case for things people on the right and left ought to care about, and that people in Europe who are sick of Bush might have dismissed on that basis.

Oh well.

Speaking of global citizenship: I'll be heading back to Pakistan tomorrow mid-afternoon... Back in 10 days or so.

Safe trip hilzoy. We'll miss you.


I also think there's some amount of class distinction going on here: many people think of Europeans as wealthy effete overeducated snobs who look down on hard working Murikans like them. And in that instant, all the insecurities about not being good enough, about one's "betters" looking down on them become affiliated with "those" Europeans. The fact that every few months we hear about how European schools are better or Europeans are taller or what not only reinforces the notion that Americans might be inferior and that foreigners are looking down on them.

As usual, Turb finds a nail that needs driving and applies a judicious hammer blow. This is spot on, although I would add that this is not necessarily an exclusive product of contemporary concerns about job security, not dealing with foreigners much, etc.

There is a strain in American culture of partially concealed insecurity and compensating braggidocio with regard to perceived European superiority which goes all the way back to the earliest days of European colonization in the New World.

For almost all of our pre-1776 history, and a fair chunk after that, Americans of European descent imported much of their culture and virtually all of their manufactured goods from the home countries, a fact which belied the independance of the fledgling USA and has rankled every since.

It is seldom mentioned in primary and secondary school US history texts, as a result of which it is not at all difficult for an American child to grow up not realizing that the War of 1812 (We won! yay!) was an minor offshoot of the much larger Napoleonic Wars in Europe, or that Great Britain was the dominant imperial power in the world for the remainder of the 19th Cen. and was not eclipsed by the US as a global military power until after the First World War (their financial eclipse and conversion from largest creditor to largest debtor nation took place first, a fact that Americans today should contemplate with some degree of trepidation).

The moral of the story is that European superiority vs. the USA, whether actual or imagined, is a perilous set of waters for any American politician to go swimming in. Obama took some real risks by taking this trip.

IMHO he seems to have done pretty well in avoiding major gaffes or incidents (does anybody remember the controversy over Reagan's visit to Bitburg?). If he were a Republican, the media would be falling all over themselves talking about his courage in taking such a risky trip with so many possible downsides, but of course he is a Democrat, so they won't do that.


But fwiw: what he actually did, imho, was to give a good speech one of whose main points is: we all really do have to get behind the attempt to deal with problems like terrorism, which are truly global and truly problems; and the fact that you all (Europeans) don't like Bush should not preclude your backing the general idea (as opposed to its execution to date.) Knowing that he has a following in Europe, one of the main things he did was to use that to make a case for things people on the right and left ought to care about, and that people in Europe who are sick of Bush might have dismissed on that basis.

This morning (i.e. before the speech and before I'd seen any advance text of it) I was thinking about what might happen today and hoping that he would make exactly these points. They weren't made with great rhetorical flourishes which will be long remembered, but it struck me nonetheless as a speech which had something to discomfort his fans both to the left and to the right, and was surprisingly interventionist in tone and supportive of the ongoing struggle against terrorism, compared with what a European center-left audience might be expecting to hear.

To me it emphasized yet again that Obama does not fit very neatly into the simplistic left-right ideological scale that we try to shoe-horn everything into. Now that the Soviet Union is no more and the Chinese have turned into the world's most ruthless Dickensonian capitalists, perhaps it is high time that we find some better way of describing our politics than by reference to seating arrangements in the revolutionary French National Assembly.

"What a bunch of blather. Putting to one side the misspoken (and uncorrected) words (well, maybe he thought their English wasn't THAT good), the prose just wasn't inspirational."

These things are clearly subjective; I found it as inspirational as you apparently found that cartoon you linked funny, and I found that cartoon as funny as you found the speech moving. So there's symmetry, anyway.

Personally, I thought Reagan sometimes gave excellent speeches, even though I had no respect for Reagan, and disagreed with innumerable of his policies. I've even liked some of what G. W. Bush has had to say, on a few occasions, though it's admittedly rare, and admittedly I have to fight dislike of various of his mannerisms.

I have no doubt there are many who share your disdain for this speech, and Obama, but I also have no doubt that there are many more who do not, both Americans and people around the world alike. So be it.

And, sure, the policies and actions President Obama, if there is to be one, will take will be more important than his speeches -- but speeches can be darned important, too.

"Angela, are the zoological gardens available next month?"

I imagine that if John McCain inquires, the answer will definitely be "yes."

A Jack Nicholson Moment? What does that sounds like?

Russel - given some recent OW threads, my first thought was "Wait'll they get a load of me!", but upon digging to make sure I remembered the wording exactly right, I found what BOB must have been thinking of:

"Now comes the part where I relieve you, the little people, of the burden of your failed and useless lives."

hilzoy -- Have a safe trip. Some traveler's tales from that part of the world would be nice, too.

"does anybody remember the controversy over Reagan's visit to Bitburg?"

I remember Reagan engaging in moral equivalence of Allied troops with SS Nazis, myself. In considerable detail.

Detail such as Ronald Reagan specifically declaring that:

I think that there's nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."
My mileage varied, and still does, on the SS being victims "just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."

This was, mind, in the context of Reagan's having decided not to visit a concentration camp because "the president said he didn't want to risk 'reawakening the passions of the time' or offend his hosts by visiting a death camp."

Yes, I recall quite well.

Liberal J said Also, I find it very interesting that LT Nixon finds talk of being a citizen of the world 'retro'. I don't mean that as snark, but I think that indicates a fault line in conservatism, which places those opposed to internationalism on one side and those who are up for it on another.

Just to clarify, I'm not the posterboy for conservatism, as I'm way too degenerate (lovEz teh p0rn). I was more commenting on the cheesiness of the campaign trail with the We Are The World gag.

hilzoy -- Have a safe trip. Some traveler's tales from that part of the world would be nice, too.

Ditto that (both parts).

Speaking of global citizenship: I'll be heading back to Pakistan tomorrow mid-afternoon... Back in 10 days or so.

Travel Safe!

There were days when GWB was popular overseas, and I don't recall his supporters complaining about that. If he was popular overseas right now, I don't think any of the people complaining about Obama would be complaining about Bush.

Remember his trip to Albania? He's a big deal there. No whining from conservatives that I recall. I hope to be corrected on this point.

In short, I think a whole lot of the criticism is pure unadulterated intellectually dishonest partisanship. Of an extremely lame variety.

Fwiw: I never blog Pakistan (except for once, when I was working off election statistics, which I thought were suitably neutral and public.). No one has ever said anything that struck me as the least bit objectionable, to me or anyone else, but I adopted a policy decades ago for countries without, um, a robust tradition of civil liberties: Do Not describe anything anyone said or did, or publicly state any view that someone might decide you got from someone else. You never know what the powers might be will decide is problematic, and the mere fact that you can't see why anyone would think that X is problematic means nothing.

Hilzoy: "The more I think about it, the odder I find the idea that there was something wrong about being liked by lots of Germans, though."

"The awful thing about life is: everyone has their reasons (Jean Renoir)."

Gary: So there's symmetry, anyway.

Maybe that's why I like classical architecture!

Personally, I thought Reagan sometimes gave excellent speeches,

And I thought Clinton gave some really good ones, too. My opinion is not an anti-Obama thing. He LOOKS good giving speeches. And at first listen typically seems confident and articulate. I just thought there wasn't a lot there. And his confidence was short. And the speech was one suited for a President, not a candidate. Terribly presumptuous to give a speech of this style in such a place. Does he have no sense of propriety?

I have no doubt there are many who share your disdain for this speech, and Obama,

Now you're assuming you know how I think about Obama. And disdain isn't quite what I think. I was close to disgust at the pretentiousness of the speech itself given his status, but not disgusted with him per se.

I went back and read it and think it reads much better than he delivered it. I take issue with several things, but nothing huge. He glosses over the fact that we were willing to go toe-to-toe with the Soviets and stationed troops there for decades willing to fight for freedom, not just drop chocolates (not to disparage the airlift; it was certainly a huge part of the fight in Germany and hugely symbolic of our resolve). And what's this about the "world" standing together? Maybe the West stood together, but that was hardly the world.

And the global warming rhetoric makes me wonder what he's going to do economically as the world starts to cool.

But he was stronger on terrorism than I thought he would be and did a good job of pointing out it's a global challenge and threat of true import, not just a U.S. thing.

I agree with you that speeches can be important even though ultimately policies rule the day. A nice, big press conference outlining his "vision" would have been perfectly appropriate and may have even gotten a bigger rise out of the Germans than the rather tepid response he was able to generate from the huge crowd.

A Jack Nicholson Moment? What does that sounds like?

We’ve had three NCMs (Nicholas Cage Moments) as far as I can tell. These happened during the ‘good times’ of the honeymoon and rising pole numbers.

NCM1: Dressing down the New York Times over the ear comment;
NCM2: Warning people who criticise Michelle’s politics on the Today Show;
NCM3: Press releases on the New Yorker cartoon

You’ll notice that the NCMs have become more dramatic with the passage of time. But NCMs are minor.

The honeymoon will end and the poll numbers will fall (my prediction of RCP polls being down 3.5% in 14 days is tracking well, the number is down 0.5% in 2 days, a perfect fit). And then we will be introduced to the JNMs. Russell asks what form they will take. That is simply unknowable. But they will be good.

One possibility is that a cameraman will catch Obama smoking, and will be chased around the parking lot while being filmed by a colleague. But that is only speculation.

In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more -- not less…But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together…The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand.

I just read the transcript. His vision is kind of creepy to me because it won’t work. The plan contains a gross conceptual error. The Western surpluses that Obama is used to asking for and distributing as political goodies are gone. We have $9 trillion in direct debt, and will soon take on trillions more through the housing bailout.

There are over $70 trillion in unfunded liabilities that are beginning to come due. It will be impossible to increase government revenues significantly. So we are dependent on people loaning the government money. When these people conclude that they will not be paid back, they will stop loaning the government money.

That is when the wall-builders will really start to do well. Municipal bankruptcy law is a good short-term career choice. Wall-building is a better career path for the longer term though. Lawyering might get dangerous in a few years. Nuclear engineers will start doing great in a few years. Hooray. Maybe we can be pirates again. Maybe Jimmy Buffett got it all wrong.

Gary: My mileage varied, and still does, on the SS being victims "just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."

Only Reagan wasn't referring to the few SS that were buried there, but the almost 2,000 very young German soldiers pressed into service at the end of the war. And he was under tremendous pressure from Kohl to go. Here is what he said (quoted in your link):

These [SS troops] were the villains, as we know, that conducted the persecutions and all. But there are 2,000 graves there, and most of those, the average age is about 18. I think that there's nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.

He wasn't equaling the degree of victimhood between the young soldiers and Holocaust victims. Just acknowledging that they were both victims. And I doubt you'd find a cemetery in Germany without SS buried.

I'm not justifying the trip in light of how I feel about the Holocaust. I had mixed feelings at the time. It was a tough call and the decision to visit Bergen-Belsen was undoubtedly the right thing to do.

I remember his words there:

As we flew here from Hanover, low over the greening farms and the emerging springtime of the lovely German countryside, I reflected, and there must have been a time when the prisoners at Bergen-Belsen and those of every other camp must have felt the springtime was gone forever from their lives. Surely we can understand that when we see what is around us -- all these children of God under bleak and lifeless mounds, the plainness of which does not even hint at the unspeakable acts that created them. Here they lie, never to hope, never to pray, never to love, never to heal, never to laugh, never to cry.

. . .

We're all witnesses; we share the glistening hope that rests in every human soul. Hope leads us, if we're prepared to trust it, toward what our President Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. And then, rising above all this cruelty, out of this tragic and nightmarish time, beyond the anguish, the pain and the suffering for all time, we can and must pledge: Never again.

Go listen to the audio and judge Reagan.

I think it's a good contrast with Obama's speech. Obama is a direct beneficiary of Reagan's instinct to seek reconciliation with the German people who were not those that generated the Holocaust.

Reagan was a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. You earlier lauded Carter, who, what, pledged to "[expletive] the Jews" if reelected?

"You earlier lauded Carter, who, what, pledged to '[expletive] the Jews' if reelected?"

As it happens, James Baker is not Jimmy Carter, no.

Oopsie.

They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.

He wasn't equaling the degree of victimhood between the young soldiers and Holocaust victims.

Yes, he was, and no, members of the SS were not victims "just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."

No, the experience of being persecuted as a Jew, a gypsy, a political prisoner, a homosexual, and suffering unto death in a camp was just a touch worse than getting a nice shiny black uniform with jolly good boots, being told you were racially superior to the untermenschen, and then going out and committing war crimes.

Yes, there was a touch of difference in the degree of "victimhood" there. In the eyes of some of us. YMMV, etc.

I'll go with Elie Wiesel:

Mr President, speaking of the conciliation, I was very pleased that we met before, so a stage of the conciliation has been set in motion between us. But we were never on two sides. We were on the same side. We were always on the side of justice, always on the side of memory, against the SS and against what they represent.

It was good talking to you, and I am grateful to you for the medal. But this medal is not mine alone. It belongs to all those who remember what SS killers have done to their victims.

It was given to me by the American people for my writings, teaching, and for my testimony. When I write, I feel my invisible teachers standing over my shoulders, reading my words and judging their veracity. And while I feel responsible for the living, I feel equally responsible to the dead. Their memory dwells in my memory.

Forty years ago, a young man awoke and he found himself an orphan in an orphaned world. What have I learned in the last 40 years? Small things. I learned the perils of language and those of silence. I learned that in extreme situations when human lives and dignity are at stake, neutrality is a sin. It helps the killers, not the victims. I learned the meaning of solitude, Mr President. We were alone, desperately alone.

Today is 19 April, and 19 April, 1943, the Warsaw Ghetto rose in arms against the onslaught of the Nazis. They were so few and so young and so helpless. And nobody came to their help. And they had to fight what was then the mightiest legion in Europe. Every underground received help except the Jewish underground. And yet they managed to fight and resist and push back those Nazis and their accomplices for six weeks. And yet the leaders of the free world, Mr President, knew everything and did so little, or nothing, or at least nothing specifically to save Jewish children from death. You spoke of Jewish children, Mr President. One million Jewish children perished. If I spent my entire life reciting their names, I would die before finishing the task.

Mr President, I have seen children, I have seen them being thrown in the flames alive. Words, they die on my lips. So I have learned, I have learned, I have learned the fragility of the human condition.

And I am reminded of a great moral essayist. The gentle and forceful Abe Rosenthal, having visited Auschwitz, once wrote an extraordinary reportage about the persecution of Jews, and he called it, ‘Forgive them not, Father, for they knew what they did.’

I have learned that the Holocaust was a unique and uniquely Jewish event, albeit with universal implications. Not all victims were Jews. But all Jews were victims. I have learned the danger of indifference, the crime of indifference. For the opposite of love, I have learned, is not hate, but indifference. Jews were killed by the enemy but betrayed by their so‐called allies, who found political reasons to justify their indifference or passivity.

But I have also learned that suffering confers no privileges. It all depends what one does with it. And this is why survivors, of who you spoke, Mr President, have tried to teach their contemporaries how to build on ruins, how to invent hope in a world that offers none, how to proclaim faith to a generation that has seen it shamed and mutilated. And I believe, we believe, that memory is the answer, perhaps the only answer.

A few days ago, on the anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald, all of us, Americans, watched with dismay and anger as the Soviet Union and East Germany distorted both past and present history.

Mr President, I was there. I was there when American liberators arrived. And they gave us back our lives. And what I felt for them then nourishes me to the end of my days and will do so. If you only knew what we tried to do with them then. We who were so weak that we couldn't carry our own lives, we tried to carry them in triumph.

Mr President, we are grateful to the American Army for liberating us. We are grateful to this country, the greatest democracy in the world, the freest nation in the world, the moral nation, the authority in the world. And we are grateful, especially, to this country for having offered us haven and refuge and grateful to its leadership for being so friendly to Israel.

And, Mr President, do you know that the Ambassador of Israel, who sits next to you, who is my friend, and has been for so many years, is himself a survivor? And if you knew all the causes we fought together for the last 30 years, you should be prouder of him. And we are proud of him.

And we are grateful, of course, to Israel. We are eternally grateful to Israel for existing. We needed Israel in 1948 as we need it now. And we are grateful to Congress for its continuous philosophy of humanism and compassion for the underprivileged.

And as for yourself, Mr President, we are so grateful to you for being a friend of the Jewish people, for trying to help the oppressed Jews in the Soviet Union. And to do whatever we can to save Shcharansky and Abe Stolar and Iosif Begun and Sakharov and all the dissidents who need freedom. And of course, we thank you for your support of the Jewish state of Israel.

But, Mr President, I wouldn't be the person I am, and you wouldn't respect me for what I am, if I were not to tell you also of the sadness that is in my heart for wheat happened during the last week. And I am sure that you, too, are sad for the same reasons.

What can I do? I belong to a traumatized generation. And to us, as to you, symbols are important. And furthermore, following our ancient tradition, and we are speaking about Jewish heritage, our tradition commands us ‘to speak truth to power.’

So may I speak to you, Mr President, with respect and admiration, of the events that happened?

We have met four or five times. And each time I came away enriched, for I know of your commitment to humanity.

And therefore I am convinced, as you have told us earlier when we spoke, that you were not aware of the presence of SS graves in the Bitburg cemetery. Of course you didn't know. But now we all are aware.

May I, Mr President, if it's possible at all, implore you to do something else, to find a way, to find another way, another site? That place, Mr President, is not your place. Your place is with the victims of the SS.

Oh, we know there are political and strategic reasons, but this issue, as all issues related to that awesome event, transcends politics and diplomacy.

The issue here is not politics, but good and evil. And we must never confuse them.

For I have seen the SS at work. And I have seen their victims. They were my friends. They were my parents.

Mr President, there was a degree of suffering and loneliness in the concentration camps that defies imagination. Cut off from the world with no refuge anywhere, sons watched helplessly their fathers being beaten to death. Mothers watched their children die of hunger. And then there was Mengele and his selections. Terror, fear, isolation, torture, gas chambers, flames, flames rising to the heavens.

But, Mr President, I know and I understand, we all do, that you seek reconciliation. And so do I, so do we. And I too wish to attain true reconciliation with the German people. I do not believe in collective guilt, nor in collective responsibility. Only the killers were guilty. Their sons and daughters are not.

And I believe, Mr President, that we can and we must work together with them and with all people. And we must work to bring peace and understanding to a tormented world that, as you know, is still awaiting redemption.

I thank you, Mr President.

Good enough for me.

"You earlier lauded Carter"

Actually, I didn't.

Oopsie

You mean you thought that Baker said “If I get back in, I’m going to [expletive] the Jews.”? No, sorry it was reportedly Carter

the experience of being persecuted as a Jew . . . I completely agree. That's not what I meant. Reagan did not go there to seek reconciliation with the SS. There is no way you can look at his commitment to the Jewish people and Israel and believe that. He should have had Bergen-Belsen on his itinerary at the beginning, though.

And I remember and respect Elie Wiesel's strong feelings on the matter. I am troubled that his visit caused so much pain to so many. But, like Wiesel, I am convinced of Reagan's humanity and genuine desire for true reconciliation with those NOT responsible for the Holocaust: the sons and daughters that had nothing to do with it.

I worked side by side with an elderly German block layer that was drafted at 16, captured by the Soviets and imprisoned for years. He was not our enemy after the war. He was no enemy of the Jews. It was for those like him that fell that Reagan went to Bitburg.

And do you remember the huge opposition? One thing you have to credit Reagan for is his ability to stick with his convictions. Afterward, most agreed it was a positive visit (overwhelmingly in Germany), no doubt in large part to his moving speech at Bergen-Belsen.

All that being said, I understand and have tremendous empathy for your point of view.

Actually, I didn't.

I thought your comment on his energy policy had it been implemented for the past 30 years was positive. My mistake. :)

You’ll get 68,300 hits on google right now for (obama "president of the world").

I think we should start an ObWi pool for when the first claim that Obama is the anti-Christ appears in print.

I have dibs on tomorrow.

The honeymoon will end and the poll numbers will fall (my prediction of RCP polls being down 3.5% in 14 days is tracking well, the number is down 0.5% in 2 days, a perfect fit). And then we will be introduced to the JNMs.

Hey, you could be right. Maybe Obama will hit a few bumps, the bloom will come off the rose, and he'll turn out to be a royal jerk.

We'll just have to see, won't we?

Maybe we can be pirates again.

At least it will put an end to global warming.

To be honest, I don't find your predictions of social dissolution credible.

We've gone through much, much harder times than we face now, without devolving into any kind of "every man for himself" nonsense.

Whatever the future has in store for us, we will deal with it.

Thanks -

Yes we will Russell.

Have a great trip, hilzoy - from what I've seen on Flickr and National Geographic it seems to be a really beautiful and colourful (both literally and figuratively) country.

Already 21000 google hits for "Obama is the Antichrist" (and that's nothing new, I tried that months ago).
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I think Obama's claim not to stand there as the presidential candidate verged on being a lie. A "normal" US citizen would not get a major hub in the city blocked for days (even with lots of cash) or draw crowds that large. But I don't see a problem with that.
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I was surprised how many blacks were there, and a lot of them were clearly not from the US.
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I could not judge the crowd reactions beyond the square itself (i.e. those between the square and the Brandenburg Gate) but the applause seemed to me highly selective, i.e. different people were clapping at different occasions during the speech and not doing at others. I also got the impression that Obama tried not to go totally MLK (except for the nuclear disarmament part) which was in my opinion a wise choice, since we are not used to that. He still was far more emphatic than the current standard for political speeches over here (and that apart from the fact that most German politicians lack the skill these days anyway. "Large" rhethorics are suspect since WW2 and few can pull it off successfully).
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Several times I got the impression that Obama was approaching "mined" areas but did not walk really into them (therefore my "playing it safe" remark above) with the notable exception of the nuclear weapons question. And even that was not a minefield as far as the crowd in front of him was concerned but only with the opposition at home (I think that was the "I have a dream" moment in the speech with only loose connection to political "realism").
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Let Son of Cain do the same, if he dares! ;-)
But he should choose a more "intimate" location since he would draw less people. As long as he does no real gaffes during his speech, he should be safe, the audience would not be automatically hostile.

"You mean you thought that Baker said “If I get back in, I’m going to [expletive] the Jews.”? No, sorry it was reportedly Carter"

Speaking of antisemites, Andrew Cockburn is a notorious one, and a -- I put this politely -- an entirely unreliable reporter. I'll need a cite from someone I don't have in my "pay not attention to what this person writes" list, a list that is exceedingly short, indeed. Sorry.

"I thought your comment on his energy policy had it been implemented for the past 30 years was positive."

It was. I was not, however, "glorifying" Carter's energy policy, let alone his person overall, and I was most definitely not honoring him as a deity, or with religious connotations.

"Yes we will Russell."

And when society falls apart, due to the triumph of the swarming masses of inferior, genetically lesser, breeds, we racially superior, truly intelligent, clear-seeing peoples, will be prepared, and once again our superiority will enable us to come out on top! The pseudo-intellectuals shall be thrown down, and hard-working, property-owning, white men with situational awareness, who understand the necessity of using violence when called for, shall come out on top! Good times! Best times evah!

Sieg heil.

Hilzoy,

Go forth . . .

As a citizen of the world . . .

Thanks. -- OT: I just read that Ma'Ariv has published the note that Obama stuck into the Wailing Wall. For some reason the idea that people are prowling around plucking other people's notes out of the wall made me sad.

Wow. That's low.

Have a wonderful and safe trip, Hilzoy!

russel; Maybe Obama will hit a few bumps, the bloom will come off the rose, and he'll turn out to be a royal jerk.

Didn't this already happen? He voted for extended eavesdropping powers without legal oversight for the executive, immunity for the telecoms companies who eavesdropped when they knew it was illegal, and his adviser has confirmed he doesn't plan for there to be much investigation or prosecution of the crimes committed under the Bush administration.

I gather he gives a good speech, though. And he's still better than McCain. Just not exactly on route to be much of a reformer: a maintainer of the status quo.

And when society falls apart, due to the triumph of the swarming masses of inferior, genetically lesser, breeds, we racially superior, truly intelligent, clear-seeing peoples, will be prepared, and once again our superiority will enable us to come out on top!

Yes, me and my yellow brothers and sisters will be prepared when BOB and his compatriots fall.

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