It's official: Sen. Barack Obama will speak in Berlin before the Victory Column in the Tiergarten with the Brandenburg Gate just down the road. So much for the controversy swirling around the prospect of Obama speaking at the Brandenburg Gate (Charles Krauthammer has an op-ed pasting Obama for what he deems his dangerous hubris in today's Washington Post). The Victory Column opened in 1873 -- you can walk up inside to the top for a splendid view of Berlin -- to commemorate Germany's triumph over Denmark. Things soon went awry, as the impetuous young Kaiser Wilhelm tried to outdo his old man and launched a catastrophic preventive war in 1914. Sound familiar? Bush has more in common with the Kaiser than you might think.
Obama's visit will highlight a modern, more enlightened Germany. Today it's Germany that's offering lessons in morality to a United States that has gone astray. But some thing remain the same -- beer and sausages remain a staple of the German diet. Given the difficulties Obama has had in the United States with quaffing beer and hanging out with the locals, his greatest problem in Deutschland may be dealing with the local cuisine.
Still, Obama is wildly popular in Germany and any culinary transgressions are likely to be forgiven. He offers a chance to tip the beauty contest scales in America's favor again. Perhaps Obama's appearance at the Victory Column even provides a premonition of his own victory in November?