Germany is a nation that has had its fill of "Mission Accomplished" martial spectacles and ostentatious displays of nationalistic "glory." The Germans know it was all jingoism and propaganda. And to what else can we attribute George W. Bush's eight years of misrule but to jingoism and propaganda?
With his speech today in Berlin, Barack Obama has offered the world the same thing he has offered the people of the United States: Hope and Change. He is the "Anti-Bush" and the world is responding. The American election of 2008 will have enormous effects on the destiny of this planet and its people. This election is not only about "change," but it will be a referendum on the Bush regime and the Republican Party. Call it impeachment writ large.
There is "expert" commentary suggesting that America's problems with the rest of the world stem from something wrong with the "brand," as if the "perception" of U.S. behavior over the past eight years is what produced the unbelievably low view of America in the eyes of most of the world's people. All the world is a stage and we've had a phony cowboy rich kid in the leading role. Obama understands this "stage" better than any other American politician, and the most of the people of Berlin and Europe do too. These are people who have long ago found a consensus that health care is a human right and global climate change is a serious problem and nothing good ever comes out of aggressive war and military occupation.
Obama's appearance in Berlin today shows that it's time for the United States to rejoin the civilized world. That is all he was really saying. His speech shouldn't be overly scrutinized for its content (he spoke diplomatically). Much more important is WHERE he said it and to WHOM. The enormous gathering of over 250,000 Berliners, full of hope and good will, would never have assembled to hear a speech by John McCain. Today, even George W. Bush couldn't pull that many people together in Berlin to protest against him. (He's old news over there).
There was a wave of popular sentiment demonstrated today, and that wave is now global. It's fitting that a world leader like Obama would emerge at this perilous time, especially after 20 years of being lectured by "experts" about how the world is "flat" and "globalization" has shrunk the planet and isn't laissez-faire neo-liberalism just wonderful? Well, Obama's time has come.
How can we NOT elect this guy?
Obama should get a huge "bump" in the polls when he returns home and a well-timed announcement of his running mate can help him dominate news cycles right into the Democratic National Convention.
In 1968, it was Robert F. Kennedy's plan to take a quick trip to Europe during the lull period between the end of the primaries and the national convention. He wanted to express to the world that Lyndon Johnson's bombing of Vietnam was not what America was all about. Today, Obama performed a similar service but to a very different world.