Berlin & Baghdad

I see the WSJ had precisely the same reaction to Obama's speech as I. Me feel smart now.

For our money, the best line in Barack Obama's speech yesterday in Berlin came in the form of a quote from Ernst Reuter, the city's mayor during the period of the Soviet blockade and the American airlift, in 1948:

"But in the darkest hour," said Sen. Obama, "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'." This, from a U.S. Senator whose consistent message to the people of Baghdad, a similarly besieged city, also dependent on America's protection, has been, in effect, to give up.

I liked their additional observation:

It is hard not to be moved by the sight during the speech of hundreds of American flags being waved, rather than burned. Then again, the last time a major American political figure delivered an open-air speech in Berlin, 10,000 riot police had to use tear gas and water cannons to repel violent demonstrators. It was June 1987, the speaker was Ronald Reagan, his message was: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Press accounts characterized the line as "provocative"; the Soviets called it "war-mongering"; 100,000 protesters marched against Reagan in the old German capital of Bonn. Two years later, the Berlin Wall fell.

Reagan's speech is a lesson in the difference between popularity and statesmanship.
Good point, and it makes me feel a little better about this story in WaTi this morning, which includes the news that 40,000 people attended Reagan's speech and 200,000 attended Obama's, many of them chanting his name and calling for him to be Chancellor (a move I'd support, by the way).

Mr. W's reaction is that Obama embiggens the European leaders --that is, they look better next to him. Say what you like about Bush, but he really is a leader in the sense that he makes things happen.