Friday, July 25, 2008

Obama - A Reminder of Shared Destiny

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This cover of today's International Herald Tribune published in Paris is from the Newseum.

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Jonathon Freeland writing in The Guardian (and also appearing on last night's Lehrer report) had this to say:
Taking what he calls his "improbable journey" to the heart of Europe, Barack Obama succeeded in closing down one of Berlin's main thoroughfares last night, luring the city's young in their tens of thousands to stand in the evening sunshine and hear him spin his dreams of hope - not for America this time, but for the whole world.


Poetically, he reminded Berliners of what they would surely regard as their finest hours, their resilience during the blockade some 60 years ago - when the Soviet Union tried "to extinguish the last flame of freedom" - and the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, an event which, he said, opened the "doors of democracy" all over the world.

But the loudest applause came when Obama, however subtly, offered himself as the coming antidote to all that Germans, Europeans - and most non-Americans - have disliked about the Bush era.

After listing a series of global problems, from genocide in Darfur to loose nukes, he declared: "No one nation, no matter how large or how powerful, can defeat such challenges alone." It was a promise to end the unilateralism of the early Bush years and the crowd could not contain their delight. There was no less warmth when Obama explained his belief in "allies who will listen to each other, who will learn from each other, who will, above all, trust each other".

Again and again he uttered sentences that could never have come from the mouth of George Bush. "This is the moment to secure the peace of the world without nuclear weapons," he said. On Iraq, the aim was "to finally bring this war to a close".

He asked if today's generation was ready to seize the moment that was at hand. "Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?" he asked. "Will we welcome immigrants from different lands?" As for the threat of climate change, he spoke in language that could not have been more sweeping or epic: "This is the moment we must come together to save this planet."


By common consent, last night - and the entire Obama week - has been a huge success, generating priceless images for TV consumption back home and helping the Democrat cross the credibility gap, making it easier for American voters to imagine him as a player on the world stage.

His team believes the notion that the US will regain the world's respect under a President Obama will help persuade many American voters to back him.

Last night's pictures from Berlin will have further discomfited John McCain, who has struggled for media oxygen during a week of near-constant coverage of his opponent's grand tour.

He complained on Fox News on Wednesday that he was barely getting a look in. "All I can do is be amused," he said manfully.



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