"The senator was criticized in the primaries for showing insufficient interest in Europe," an unnamed adviser told Der Spiegel magazine. "This visit is an answer to this criticism."
Please. Showing up isn't "interest" -- it's tourism. But where the Obama campaign is concerned, it's also a pilgrimage. As the Obama adviser rather weirdly added: "The memories of John F. Kennedy's 1963 speech are still very fresh."
Historic, to be sure. But "very fresh"? Probably only to Team Obama fanners of the Kennedy flame, who, conveniently, in their careful advance work fail to flag Ronald Reagan's more recent address at the Brandenburg Gate. In describing Berlin to the German magazine as "the bridge between East and West," they practically seem to have missed the end of the Cold War, not to mention German reunification -- exactly what Ronald Reagan was fighting for, when in 1987 he forcibly challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." That was the same Berlin Wall, come to think of it, that in 1961 JFK allowed to go up and stay up.
Of course, the Obama campaign isn't seeking historical parallels, but perfect props -- a telegenic and world-famous backdrop, an increasingly mystical, if apolitical Kennedy connection, an ever-emotional crowd. And with a whopping 72 percent of Germans backing Obama in a recent poll, they'll surely get the crowd. It should be a great concert, I mean, event.
Not that it really matters, but what will he say? It's impossible to predict, but the London Times Online, based on an "insider tip," has reported that Obama (just like JFK, natch) will address the masses in the local lingo: "Ich kann zuhoeren!"
This may sound great in German. But it simply means, "I can listen!" Not the most stirring political message, perhaps, but surely music, of a kind, to the roaring crowd.