Obama Berlin Speech After Action

Barack Obama’s speech to the throngs gathered at the Berlin Tiergarten Park was a solid effort, saying most of the right things about the Transatlantic relationship along with some unfortunate banalities.

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press  Senator Barack Obama drew a crowd of more than 200,000, according to German estimates, in Berlin on Thursday

The allusions to our shared history with Western Europe in general and Germany in particular were well done. The reminder of our efforts in the Berlin Airlift and helping rebuild a defeated foe, turning an enemy into one of our most reliable Allies, was important. This is speechmaking at its finest:

[I]n 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!”

It simultaneously butters up the audience and reminds them that sacrifice and hardship are necessary to achieve important goals. And “duty” is a word not heard enough these days.

US Democratic presidential hopeful, Barack Obama, seen on large TV screens, makes a speech in front of the Victory Column in Berlin on July 24, 2008. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.   AFP PHOTO    DDP / SEBASTIAN WILLNOW   GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read SEBASTIAN WILLNOW/AFP/Getty Images)Steven Erlanger calls it “a tone poem” but laments that it “was vague on crucial issues of trade, defense and foreign policy that currently divide Washington from Europe and are likely to continue to do so even if he becomes president — issues ranging from Russia, Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan to new refueling tankers and chlorinated chickens, the focus of an 11-year European ban on American poultry imports.” That’s a ridiculous criticism, however. The 200,000-odd assembled Germans were not there to hear about such mundane details. This was a rally to introduce Obama to Europe, not a summit meeting. And Steve Benen is right to point out how much ground was covered, at least at the ephemeral level: “Climate change, loose nukes, counter-terrorism, AIDS, poverty, free speech, religious liberty, Darfur, drug trafficking, rule of law — it was all in there.”

Tom Maguire rightly takes exception to Obama’s early applause line, “I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city.” He lists several notable black Americans who have spoken in Berlin, ranging from Paul Robeson to Martin Luther King to Jesse Jackson to Colin Powell and Condi Rice. It’s decades past being remarkable that a black man can get his voice heard.

Nor can I disagree with TigerHawk in wishing obama had gone beyond “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” and pointedly called on the Germans to loosen their rules of engagement so that the relatively small force they’re contributing to the NATO effort could actually do some good. Then again, I’m not sure a feel good stump rally is the place for that sort of thing.

On the other hand, I find Nora McAlvanah‘s criticism of the “This is our time” line rather baffling. He’s campaigning about the next four years, not the instant of the speech. And, surely, it’s Germans’ time, too. While an American president’s job, first and foremost, is to see to American interests, there’s nothing wrong — and much good — in taling about “our” shared interests with our Allies.

Ed Morrissey and 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 campaignTonight, 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.A bizarre choice in what was mostly a brilliantly executed tour. [UPDATE: All indications now are that it wasn’t Obama’s choice but the Pentagon’s. ]

That line about “citizen of the world” is catching the most flak. Daniel Larison calls it “just the most prominent example of how Obama blundered in this speech.”

Obama misjudges the public mood here in the U.S. quite badly if he thinks that “this is the moment” when Americans are interested in tearing down walls and embracing globalisation.

Maybe so. But tear down the walls and embrace globalization we must. And, fortunately, since John McCain is four-square in favor of doing those things, too, that’s going to stay on the agenda regardless of the outcome in November.

Perhaps the silliest thing I’ve seen come out of this overseas tour so far is a Rasmussen poll (taken before the rally) published under the title “63% Say Trip Does Not Make Obama More Fit to be President.”

While Barack Obama has touted his travel to Afghanistan and Iraq as a “fact-finding” trip, 63% of Americans do not believe it makes the Democratic candidate any more qualified to be president.

A new Rasmussen Reports national survey, taken Monday night, also finds that less than a third (32%) think Obama will learn from his trip to Iraq. Forty percent (40%) say his mind is already made up about policies to deal with the war there. The Democrat has been accused by liberals in his party of softening his long-standing opposition to the war in Iraq in an effort to appeal to more moderate voters.

Now, I happen to believe all those things to be true (i.e., that going on a week long campaign trip didn’t increase his foreign policy competence, that he didn’t learn much, that his mind is made up, and that he’s trying to appeal to moderates). But the purpose of the trip wasn’t to inject Obama with instant foreign policy credentials but rather to make it easier for Americans to envision him as their president. We’ll see if it accomplishes that goal but it’s hard to see how spending this much time in the spotlight and carrying it off well can hurt.

Photo credits: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press and Sebastian Willnow/AFP/Getty Images

Update (Alex Knapp): I agree with a lot of what James said above about Obama’s speech. But one thing I did want to point out is that this flak over Obama’s “citizen of the world” line shows a remarkable ignorance of Presidential parlance. Obama has been compared more than once to Reagan, and Reagan used the line frequently in his speeches. Here’s Obama’s use of the line in context:

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. 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.

Now here’s Ronald Reagan, speaking before the United Nations in 1982.

Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

I speak today as both a citizen of the United States and of the world. I come with the heartfelt wishes of my people for peace, bearing honest proposals and looking for genuine progress.

I now await the blogosphere to posthumously eviscerate Reagan for his use of the line.

Update (Dave Schuler)

I have no particular opinion on the speech. I’m sure it was a fine speech—Sen. Obama is a good public speaker and quite charismatic. What I’d mightily like to know is how President Obama plans to encourage the Germans to do things that I don’t believe they have the slightest interest in doing and which would throw their domestic policy and their foreign policy into a cocked hat.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Europe, Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. rodney dill says:

    Obama: “Ich bin ein harebrainer.”

  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    But the purpose of the trip wasn’t to inject Obama with instant foreign policy credentials but rather to make it easier for Americans to envision him as their president.

    The it’s purpose was an ego trip, plain and simple.

  3. Boyd says:

    You don’t think at least one of the goals of this trip is to convince some American voters that Obama has some foreign policy competence (“…inject Obama with instant foreign policy credentials…”)?

    What an odd statement, James. It seems patently obvious that’s the primary purpose of his trip. But maybe I’m missing something.

  4. James Joyner says:

    You don’t think at least one of the goals of this trip is to convince some American voters that Obama has some foreign policy competence (“…inject Obama with instant foreign policy credentials…”)?

    Ah but that’s a different thing. Yes, he’s trying to show that he can hold his own in a “presidential” setting and that he’s not an idiot on foreign policy matters. That’s a different thing than making him “more qualified to be president.”

    And, indeed, about a third of the respondents thought it DID make him more qualified. That’s a pretty big win for a week long pep rally.

  5. Michael says:

    I was actually surprised by how strongly Obama was trying to link the NATO effort in Afghanistan with the welfare of the German people. In the middle of a part of the speech talking about Afghanistan’s global impact, he singled out Germany as a recipient of Afghanistan’s Heroin trafficking. He did it again towards the end of the speech.

    I think he was trying to make the NATO fight in Afghanistan a matter of civil defense for Germans. Probably hit home more than threats of Al Qaeda attacks, which Germany has so far been fortunate enough to avoid.

  6. sam says:

    What struck me was the size of the crowd. I came away thinking that even when Europeans are most disenchanted with American policy–as developed and implemented by either party–there is still a great deal of goodwill for the US in Europe. I’m trying not come off as, Gee they really like us. I think it’s deeper than that. I think many, many Europeans believe in the idea of America, and Obama’s speech brought that out.

  7. Bithead says:

    Now, I happen to believe all those things to be true (i.e., that going on a week long campaign trip didn’t increase his foreign policy competence, that he didn’t learn much, that his mind is made up, and that he’s trying to appeal to moderates). But the purpose of the trip wasn’t to inject Obama with instant foreign policy credentials but rather to make it easier for Americans to envision him as their president.

    Reluctantly, James, I’m going to disagree, here… mildly.
    I think the entire purpose of this trip was to burnish his foreign policy prospects. Certainly a week long trip won’t give him any serious experience, but with images of adoring crowds of Europian leftists, (Which as we discussed yesterday, are a sure bet….) the picture it gives back here in the states is of a wildly popular person who should be able to slide past the lack of experience because those people like him. And clearly these events were for the benefit of voters here in the states.

    Think about how much time and effort got invested four years ago, by Kerry and his people to create that image that ‘they liked him, they really liked him”. Clearly, to Democrats at least, that’s 3/4 of the basis of Foreign policy, anyway. At the least the impression they were trying to lave was if they like him that much experience doesn’t matter so much.

    All that said, if I’m McCain, I’m leaning on what I said yesterday…that we don’t really give a damn if the European leftists like us. Indeed; That entire experience with Kerry four years ago put a spotlight on the fact that our interests are not bettered by European approval.. in fact the reverse tends to be true. That would tend to make his lakc of foreign policy experience more of a question, again.

  8. For another view of the speech, try some fact checking.

  9. Hal says:

    Imagery is incredibly important. Visuals have a huge impact. Seeing Obama stride across the foreign stage as he does will have a pretty huge impact. Seeing him before hundreds of thousands, getting fantastic receptions around the globe is going to burnish his image. It’s not going to make or break his candidacy, but he’s running a marathon, not a sprint.

    What’s McCain doing? Oh yea. He’s whining about press coverage, making gaffe after gaffe.

    The relative contrast is just as important as the actual measure of the events themselves. In contrast to McCain, Obama *looks* like a president and is acting like he is president. McCain *looks* like he’s a whiner and is complaining that he’s not president.

    Complain all you want, but them is politics and politics is a lot about imagery. I remember the swoons from all sectors as Jump Suit Boy and his mighty crotch flew onto the aircraft carrier for Mission Accomplished day.

    In any event, it’s pretty funny to hear griping about Obama’s ego. As if someone running for president of the most powerful nation in the planet’s history doesn’t already have a huge ego. I mean, really! What do you people expect from someone doing this? That they have a modest view of themselves? They see themselves as leaders of the free world, commander in chief of the most powerful military on the planet. People who do so aren’t shrinking violets and humble persons.

  10. Boyd says:

    Regardless of the wording of the poll question, I don’t think your typical American is going to make the distinction between “proves foreign policy competence” and “makes him more qualified” on the spur of the moment.

    In other words, I believe that in the rush of the moment, these folks aren’t going to consider that there’s any difference between “proves competence” and “gives competence.” In fact, I think it was a pretty stupid question to begin with, now that I think about it.

  11. Our Paul says:

    Nice post on Obama’s Berlin speech James, I wait with baited breath for the comments in your discussion section.

    It is interesting that you chose the lead photograph from the Gray Lady to present. Bag News Notes has a critic of this pic, which might be of interest to your readership. The comment section the Bag Man’s post raises the question of whether the image has been reverse. The Times slide show is rather drab, kind of emphasizing the criticism of the presented primary image.

    As for “Ed Morrissey and Donald Douglas question Obama’s cancelation of a visit to the American military hospital in Landstuhl…” did you really expect these impartial minds of the Center Right to contribute to the analysis of Obama’s speech? Bah, humbug, a pox on their neoconservative house!!!

  12. Jim Henley says:

    Clearly if Obama doesn’t shake the hand of every single American soldier, airman and sailor in the world before the Democratic Convention, it is a blasphemy against The TroopsTM and he is a traitor.

  13. Steve Plunk says:

    Sam mentioned the size of the crowd. The word is Obama used the same method to attract the large crowd as he did in Portland, OR, a free rock concert before the speech. I doubt as many would have shown up without the music.

  14. Boyd says:

    Obama is a good public speaker…

    Dave, wouldn’t you think “good speech-giver” might be more accurate? He certainly seems to fumble around (and misspeaks as well) whenever he goes off-script.

  15. Hal says:

    I doubt as many would have shown up without the music.

    That still sounds every bit as whiny and petulant as the first time I heard it.

  16. Anderson says:

    “I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city.” He lists several notable black Americans who have spoken in Berlin

    But they didn’t have big ears like Obama’s.

  17. JKB says:

    The problem with Obama’s “citizen of the world” comment is that he hasn’t established himself as a zealous advocate of the United States yet. No one doubted that Reagan put America first but with Obama the jury is still out.

    Obama may prove to be a zealous advocate for the United States but so far it isn’t in the top five things associated with him. I believe his choice of words were unfortunate as it raises questions as to which gets Obama’s first loyalty, US or the world. And Americans want a president who put’s the US first.

  18. There is no doubt that the trip did little (if anything) to actually confer foreign policy experience on Obama.

    Of course, by the same token, going around the US talking about social security, taxation, welfare, education or whatever confers no domestic policy experience, either.

    This was campaigning. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I find it all interesting because 1) it demonstrate the ongoing significance of the US, as I can’t imagine another candidate from any other country going abroad and receiving any attention whatsoever, let along this kind of attention, 2) I wonder the degree to which this is a new thing-i.e., taking the campaign abroad, and 3) I wonder if McCain now regrets goading Obama into going to Iraq, as if Obama hadn’t gone to Iraq/Afghanistan, I suspect he wouldn’t have gone to Europe.

  19. James Joyner says:

    But they didn’t have big ears like Obama’s.

    Excellent point!

  20. James Joyner says:

    Imagery is incredibly important. Visuals have a huge impact. Seeing Obama stride across the foreign stage as he does will have a pretty huge impact. Seeing him before hundreds of thousands, getting fantastic receptions around the globe is going to burnish his image.

    We agree completely on that. My criticism wasn’t of Obama but of the silliness of the poll question. I’m making the same point Steven Taylor does above: This was campaigning designed to show that he can “look presidential” in a foreign policy setting. Mission accomplished, I think, on that score.

    The degree to which this will matter in November, I dunno. But, as I said, it certainly can’t hurt.

  21. Michael says:

    The degree to which this will matter in November, I dunno. But, as I said, it certainly can’t hurt.

    It provides a default re-framing of the the foreign policy experience criticism. Now every time McCain says something about Obama lacking foreign policy experience, it will invoke images of Obama speaking to cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands in Berlin, while McCain ate lunch at a German restaurant in Ohio.

  22. […] was reading James Joyner’s round-up of the coverage of Obama’s speech in Germany (along with the comments) and a few thoughts […]

  23. Michael says:

    TPM’s Greg Sergent gets some clarification on Obama’s canceled army hospital visit:

    A Pentagon spokesperson confirms to me that because of longstanding Department of Defense regulations, Pentagon officials told Obama aides that he couldn’t visit the base with campaign staff.

    So when Obama said it would be “inappropriate” to visit as part of a campaign trip, maybe he’s just rephrasing the DoD’s position that his “campaign”, i.e. staff, can’t visit.

  24. Michael says:

    Sorry, it’s Greg Sargent, not Sergent.

  25. […] Update: In James’ defense, and to answer to the generic response that “Kennedy and Reagan said it, too!” I would just add that the phrase “citizen […]

  26. Michael says:

    I agree with a lot of what James said above about Obama’s speech. But one thing I did want to point out is that this flak over Obama’s “citizen of the world” line shows a remarkable ignorance of Presidential parlance. Obama has been compared more than once to Reagan, and Reagan used the line frequently in his speeches.

    So did JFK, another Obama comparison, in his “Ask not what your country can do for you” speech.

  27. dutchmarbel says:

    This was a rally to introduce Obama to Europe, not a summit meeting.

    Nah. We know him over here and all of Europe prefers democratic US presidents anyway 😉

    But the purpose of the trip wasn’t to inject Obama with instant foreign policy credentials but rather to make it easier for Americans to envision him as their president.

    Every article I’ve read about his speech today (7 or 8 Dutch and German newspapers) mentions that his speech is mainly ment for the domestic audience and I think that all of them included that there were ‘many americans’ in the audience. I didn’t pay attention at first, but seeing the repetitiveness made it funny, just for trying to discover the hidden motive for mentioning the fact ;). Appearantly Americans could also register themselves to vote in November.

    he singled out Germany as a recipient of Afghanistan’s Heroin trafficking. He did it again towards the end of the speech.

    I think he was trying to make the NATO fight in Afghanistan a matter of civil defense for Germans.

    Heroin trafficking is not going to do that for him though. Our (European) policies are different – and if stopping the opium crop was the target the Taliban had come round to our side before 9/11, hoping to get more international recognition.

  28. Jim Henley says:

    The problem with Obama’s “citizen of the world” comment is that he hasn’t established himself as a zealous advocate of the United States yet. No one doubted that Reagan put America first but with Obama the jury is still out.

    Obama may prove to be a zealous advocate for the United States but so far it isn’t in the top five things associated with him. I believe his choice of words were unfortunate as it raises questions as to which gets Obama’s first loyalty, US or the world. And Americans want a president who put’s the US first.

    JKB runs away with the Weaselly Use of the Passive Voice Award for the thread!

  29. Our Paul says:

    Give Michael 7 out of 10 points for:

    ”Now every time McCain says something about Obama lacking foreign policy experience, it will invoke images of Obama speaking to cheering crowd of hundreds of thousands in Berlin, while McCain ate lunch at a German restaurant in Ohio.”

    Had he included this visual he would have rung he bell, gotten a cigar, been presented a bottle of champaign, and closed this thread right down…

    Sorry about this one, the devil made me write it!

  30. Jim Henley says:

    Our Paul, it occurs to me that, given foreign travel, Obama probably had more Americans in his audience yesterday than McCain did. Do you suppose the crowd at the Tiergarten included dozens of Americans? Hundred? Thousands?

  31. Steve Plunk says:

    Hal, why would it be “whiny and petulant” to mention the free music and what effect it might have on crowd size? Andrea Mitchell has commented on how the campaign is being managed and the artificial air surrounding the events. Certainly that was the case in Portland, an artificial crowd meant to evoke genuine support and excitement.

    I appreciate the support you have for your candidate but legitimate questions deserve legitimate answers not insulting retorts. Until the Candidate, his campaign staff, and his supporters can answer real questions like grownups they will not be taken seriously.

  32. Jim Henley says:

    Certainly that was the case in Portland, an artificial crowd meant to evoke genuine support and excitement.

    I appreciate the support you have for your candidate but legitimate questions deserve legitimate answers not insulting retorts. Until the Candidate, his campaign staff, and his supporters can answer real questions like grownups they will not be taken seriously.

    Suddenly, Plunk makes a late run at JKB for the Passive-Voice abuse title, but he can’t make up enough distance in the time left to him!

    That’s right, Jim, Plunk has cracked and is falling back to the peloton. With this stage all but decided, Plunk will have to hope agains hope that he can make up the difference in tomorrow’s time trial.

    As you know, Bob, Plunk has got a lot of heart, and the ruthlessness of a born climber. But on this stage on this day, JKB would not be denied.

  33. mannning says:

    OK, score a point for Obama for his trip, speech, and showmanship. It is nice when a candidate for the highest office in America is received well–in Germany. The imagery will be used over and over here in the campaign to represent Obama’s credentials for the office of President. At least he has that: a few stirring pictures to show his mettle in foreign affairs.

    His speech-writers and teleprompter techs were obviously on their toes to ensure a good delivery by the puppet reader, and the fawning media were there to help out where they could, and to ensure any flaws that might occur were erased quickly.

    I hope, however, that no one believes that this is all you need in your background to manage our foreign policy, or that the American citizenry will be fooled by the show–those not yet decided and those in the media not yet “in-the-tank”, that is. There have been quite a few actors that have looked very presidential in their portrayal of Presidents–both real and imagined. In person, they were practically duds. Here is yet another one that cannot be convincing extemporaneously.

    What the public really needs to know are the credentials of his speech-writers to speak on policies that will help or hurt America. All are far left of center, one can assume, but which ones are the actual authors of which speeches, and can we assume that they will be around in case this puppet reader is elected? Then we would know who we are dealing with in the office of the President.

    What, pray tell, is behind that curtain?

  34. Hal says:

    why would it be “whiny and petulant” to mention the free music and what effect it might have on crowd size?

    Because it’s just a theory on your part. It’s just a transparent attempt on your part to try to undermine Obama’s event. You have nothing to back yourself up. No well researched data on the ability of mere free food and drink to lure hundreds of thousands.

    legitimate questions deserve legitimate answers not insulting retorts.

    Just because you ask a question doesn’t make it legitimate. It’s like whining over Obama’s birth certificate and “demanding” to see the hard copy.

    Further, have you ever gone to an event where there’s free food and beer? I mean, really. I’ve been to a lot in my day and the food was almost always substandard crud. The beer… eh. Weak and flat almost invariably. And you call this a draw? I’m sure it was the overwhelming factor. That’s why when they have free food and beer in the park only a hundred people show up.

    Until the Candidate, his campaign staff, and his supporters can answer real questions like grownups they will not be taken seriously.

    Again, you really have an amazingly inflated view of yourself if you think that you – alone – can determine the validity and importance of your questions. When you postulate silly theories that are transparent attempts at undermining what everyone can see as something else, it’s not a “real question”. It’s a real political calculation on your part.

    Again, feel free to ask it. Just don’t expect that everyone is going to stand up, scratch their heads and say “good point” just because you think it’s important. It’s not. It’s whiny. It’s petulant. And it’s bizarre.

    But that’s just my opinion, mind you. I’m sure that everyone but me thinks it’s a great question that obviously shows Obama isn’t serious about the presidency.

  35. Bithead says:

    Hal, why would it be “whiny and petulant” to mention the free music and what effect it might have on crowd size?

    Simple; He lacks any other answer for it that doesn’t make Obama’s Berlin stop look like the cheap, crass, insincere, staged political show it was. He knows damned well Obama wouldn’t draw that kind of a crowd even in leftist dominated Germany, were they not being bribed with food beer and bands. Therefore any comment on the matter is ‘whiney’.

  36. Bithead says:

    Should we be mentioning that about 3/4 of the costs involved with Obama’s visit to Berin is coming from GErman taxpayers, and not his own coffers? What about it, legal types? Is this a problem with legaity as regards campain funding?

  37. Our Paul says:

    To Jim Henley:

    “Our Paul, it occurs to me that, given foreign travel, Obama probably had more Americans in his audience yesterday than McCain did.”

    Shame on you for twisting the knife in such a subtle fashion, it is hard to tell whether you shive_d the Center Right or Center Left. But, assuming 1 in 200 that would be about 1000 Germans, if there are more Americans than Germans, or…

    In the interest of correcting my scurrilous attack on the Gray Lady in my original post (July 25, 2008 | 10:44 am), above, Berliner Morgenpost, has a slide show. Pic 11 out of 77 is a shot taken that has Obama with his right arm up, waving to the crowed. Based on the yellow political banner, and a lady waving a white sign, it would appear that the NY Times pic was taken immediately before or after the Morgenpost shot. It is clear that the Times image was not reversed.

  38. Jim Henley says:

    He knows damned well Obama wouldn’t draw that kind of a crowd even in leftist dominated Germany, were they not being bribed with food beer and bands.

    Bithead, What were the names of the bands that performed? Was it one band or multiple bands? What’s the largest crowd that band or bands has ever drawn prior to yesterday?

    I am sure you know these things. I’d just appreciate your sharing the info.

    manning: You started out very badly – you kept forthrightly stating owning your own opinions as your own opinions, which is very stand-up behavior – but you saved yourself at the end by pretending to speak for “the public.” Still, you are far below the standard set by JKB and Plunk, and I hope you will work to meet the standards they have set.

  39. Michael says:

    Had he included this visual he would have rung he bell, gotten a cigar, been presented a bottle of champaign, and closed this thread right down…

    Eh, I don’t smoke and Champagne isn’t high on my list of favorite beverages, so I’ll take my 7 out of 10 and enjoy the rest of the thread.

    it occurs to me that, given foreign travel, Obama probably had more Americans in his audience yesterday than McCain did.

    Obama likely had more people of any given nationality than John McCain did. Heck, he likely even had more Ohioans. But I don’t think McCain want’s to focus on how small a crowd he draws.

    Hal, why would it be “whiny and petulant” to mention the free music and what effect it might have on crowd size?

    That’s not. But whining that the Press isn’t whining about it, that qualifies.

  40. Hal says:

    Thought this was a good attempt at getting McCain more hip. All he needs is free beer and food. He is his own rock band.

  41. Bithead says:

    Bithead, What were the names of the bands that performed? Was it one band or multiple bands? What’s the largest crowd that band or bands has ever drawn prior to yesterday?

    Patrice, if I recall rightly is a Reggae artist, and I think, though I’d have to look, the other was Reamonn. I’m not overly tight with the first, not being into Reggae, but I do know Patrice has gotten lots of awards and has done large shows in the past, inclduing one I see that was billed as the largest Reggae show in Europe.

    On the other hand, I do know Reamonn fairly well. (My musical taste is all over the board, because of my radio background) They’ve released 7 or 8 albums, some of which have been available here in the states…. particularly “Wish” which was recorded out in LA a few years back. I have that one here. It’s not bad. I don’t know as I’d pay to see them, but free? I might. They’ve gotten themselves a sizable following all over Europe. Largest crowd they’ve played at to my memory would be at ‘Live Earth’ which ought to give you a quick clue why Obama chose them particularly.

    My read: As far as German crowds go, these are decidedly not second rankers, JIm.

  42. Bithead says:

    That’s not. But whining that the Press isn’t whining about it, that qualifies.

    Not at all.
    Look, the size of the crowd in the shots was the impression Obama wanted to leave… he’s basically telling the lie taht they’re all there supporting HIM. Not reporting that the people might have been there for other reasons is a falsehood by omission… and a politically motivated one at that.

  43. Michael says:

    Look, the size of the crowd in the shots was the impression Obama wanted to leave… he’s basically telling the lie taht they’re all there supporting HIM. Not reporting that the people might have been there for other reasons is a falsehood by omission… and a politically motivated one at that.

    Just because he’s right, doesn’t mean he’s not whining.

  44. Hal says:

    You know the comment thrashing is getting good when Henley shows up…

  45. mannning says:

    It is really too bad that some posters cannot read, such as Jim H. Too busy looking for something to say, I guess. My post was just that–mine. I am amazed at your inability to absorb a simple idea, Jim H.

    The only time I give any links, by the way, is for actual quotes, actual results of other efforts, and if I think the link is worthwhile. Otherwise, no links, and I stand by my opinions and my posts.

    Is that clear enough?

    In any event, you have grandly put yourself in the tank for Obama. Congratulations.

  46. dutchmarbel says:

    I actually think that the free concerts are good marketing and as such should be admired. Nothing wrong with a president who knows how to sell himself and the country. I’m not wild about Obama (though even less wild about McCain) but his ability to attrack crowds and his charismatic & inspirational influence are definately on the list of his advantages.

    Stating that a lot of folks will be attracted by the music (or the free beer) doesn’t mean that everybody there only attended because of it. But without the freebies (or with lousy weather) the crowd would undoubtedly have been a lot smaller. Raemon is not my band, but this video shows that they can attract quite a crowd (3′ gives a good pic if you hate the song too). Patrice is more to my taste and seems to be able to entertain an audience too (lousy quality but short).

  47. Steve Plunk says:

    I have to thank Jim Henley for the bicycle bit. Being a rider it made my heart jump a little just imagining the race scene.

    Judging by the comments it seems the issue of how the German crowd was assembled strikes a nerve in a few people. I still don’t see where the whiny comes in after reading my post again and again and again. I guess I’ll hang my hat on petulant.

    Now that I have that settled I can jump forward to the conclusion that whenever somebody attacks your point as “whiny and petulant” you can rest assured the substance was there and they had no good answer.

  48. sam says:

    Hey, here’s a thought. Why don’t we try and list the bands that McCain would have fronting one of his campaign rallies. I’ll go first:

    The Archies* (or maybe Spinal Tap) and Tony Orlando and Dawn.

    *and I do know, but I bet he doesn’t.

  49. Jim Henley says:

    Bithead: I honor you. Sincerely. You had the info. I confess to doubting you. I suspect your confreres in the thread could not have equaled your knowledge, but you brought it.

    Anyway. Thank you. Further googling suggests that Summer Jam draws “40,000 to 50,000 people” every year. And of course, it’s an annual show, with long lead times for promotion.

    In my opinion, the bands could not have drawn 200K attendees who would stay for the speech. They don’t have a track record of drawing six-figure crowds. With your background you’ve been to lots of concerts and festivals, so you’ve undoubtedly seen what happens to the people who came to see Act A whenever Act A finishes up and Act B comes on stage. Major, major audience turnover is the norm. But people stayed. I suspect Obama did the bands more good than they did him.

    What I don’t get is the bizarre compunction on the part of your compadres (IIRC, you didn’t start it) to explain away the crowd. Why isn’t it enough to say, “Sure, he draws a big audience in Europe, but his policies are BAD! Don’t vote for him!” That seems like a perfectly honorable reaction.

  50. Hal says:

    Why don’t we try and list the bands that McCain would have fronting one of his campaign rallies.

    I vote for the bar band in From Dusk ’till Dawn. He’d pull in quite the crowd with Salma Hayek as his lead dancer, too.

  51. John425 says:

    From elsewhere on the Internet: the “One” gives a Sermon for the German.

  52. Bithead says:

    Bithead: I honor you. Sincerely. You had the info. I confess to doubting you. I suspect your confreres in the thread could not have equaled your knowledge, but you brought it.

    Yeah, I know. I get that rather a lot. It’s always rewarding in ways I can’t describe to you, when folks figure out I really do know what I’m talking about. And thank you for taking the time to say so.

    I admit to having in this particular case, a slight advantage; I’ve always been a big music guy. Can’t play a note (Sadly) but I do keep up with it. Old habit from 25 years of DJ’ing. Can’t really be good at it without knowing what you’re playing… or more correctly what’s available to play.

    In my opinion, the bands could not have drawn 200K attendees who would stay for the speech.

    Without the bands, the beer and the food, the music, Obama wouldn’t have drawn a quarter of what we’re going to see him pictured with. All at the expense of the German taxpayer. Cute trick, that I could see people getting into morality discussions about, not to mention legal ones, ala Campaign financing.

    Why isn’t it enough to say, “Sure, he draws a big audience in Europe, but his policies are BAD

    Because that’s only part of the deal. As I suggested elsewhere, this adds ‘consummate liar’ to the list of negatives. Which, I suppose to be a large part of the reason that the defense on the issue to be so vehement.

  53. anjin-san says:

    Oh lord, will the whining never stop? Look, the left gives McCain credit where it is due. He was a stud in ‘Nam. Obama is a rock star. Quit crying and deal with it. The fact that you don’t like his policies does not alter what’s going on with him, even for the reality challenge.

  54. anjin-san says:

    Oh lord, will the whining never stop? Look, the left gives McCain credit where it is due. He was a stud in ‘Nam. Obama is a rock star. Quit crying and deal with it. The fact that you don’t like his policies does not alter what’s going on with him, even for the reality challenge.

  55. Michael says:

    Without the bands, the beer and the food, the music, Obama wouldn’t have drawn a quarter of what we’re going to see him pictured with.

    Interesting hypothesis, can you post the calculations and data you used to reach that conclusion?

  56. Jim Henley says:

    And thank you for taking the time to say so.

    Credit where credit is due!

    Without the bands, the beer and the food, the music, Obama wouldn’t have drawn a quarter of what we’re going to see him pictured with. All at the expense of the German taxpayer.

    Supplementing Michael, 1) So bands that never drew a crowd more than a quarter of the Tiergarten attendance are worth three quarters, by your calc; 2) You’re nevertheless saying that Obama, all on his own, could have drawn 50,000 people in Berlin.

    As I suggested elsewhere, this adds ‘consummate liar’ to the list of negatives.

    I see. You realize, of course, you are quite mad.

  57. Bithead says:

    Interesting hypothesis, can you post the calculations and data you used to reach that conclusion?

    Oh, please. I’ve been a p[art of and prompted enough shows to know what’s what. ANd one thing more; Kennedy didn’t need the help to attract crowds. Nor did Reagan. Now what do YOU suppose such bands were ‘invited’?

    Oh lord, will the whining never stop? Look, the left gives McCain credit where it is due. He was a stud in ‘Nam. Obama is a rock star. Quit crying and deal with it.

    What you apparently fail to understand is it IS being dealt with, by simply pointing up facts.

    I see. You realize, of course, you are quite mad.

    Interesting hypothesis, can you post the calculations and data you used to reach that conclusion?

    One thing more; I got told the same thing when I said Bill Clinton was a grade-A liar,back in the early 90’s, Given the reception of the Democrats to Hillary Clinton, it appears about half of them think my read on the matter wasn’t so far off.

  58. Bithead says:

    So bands that never drew a crowd more than a quarter of the Tiergarten attendance are worth three quarters,

    Heh… had you forgotten that in those other venues, people were expected to PAY to hear the band(s)? Exactly why I said….

    I don’t know as I’d pay to see them, but free? I might.

    That Mr. Henley, was a clue…

  59. Michael says:

    Oh, please. I’ve been a p[art of and prompted enough shows to know what’s what.

    Yes, but I haven’t. Unless you want us to take it as a matter of faith, we’ll need some objective data.

    Interesting hypothesis, can you post the calculations and data you used to reach that conclusion?

    That’s copyrighted, you owe me $0.02.

  60. […] James Joyner has noted, McCain takes essentially the same positions and is even more ardent in his support of free […]

  61. Bruce Moomaw says:

    Bithead: “I’m leaning on what I said yesterday…that we don’t really give a damn if the European leftists like us. Indeed; That entire experience with Kerry four years ago put a spotlight on the fact that our interests are not bettered by European approval.. in fact the reverse tends to be true.”

    Yeah, Bits. What could the fool possibly have been thinking of, encouraging the Germans to help us fight al-Qaida?

    Christ.