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Ear to the Ground

Just Another Stump Speech, or Historic Moment?

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Posted on Jul 24, 2008
AP / Jens Meyer

While fans deemed it “soaring” and Barack Obama himself tried to play down its importance, the senator’s speech Thursday in Berlin certainly had the visuals and big crowd—over 100,000—to support comparisons to JFK’s famous appearance in the iconic Cold War capital.


This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations—including my own—will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust—not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here—what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin—people of the world—this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived—at great cost and great sacrifice—to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom—indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us—what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores—is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

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By cyrena, July 25, 2008 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment


BEYOND Obama, (yes, there are others in the world who do their part) the World Court has already issued an opinion on that wall, confirming, clarifying it to be ILLEGAL according to International Laws and treaties. Whether Barack Obama shouts his own agreement or disagreement to that legal opinion isn’t an issue for most American people in their attempts to hire a president that can first STOP the destruction and then hopefully lead in the clean-up repair efforts. So, get over yourself.

Yes, I’m fully aware of Barack Obama’s former commitment to the Palestinian cause, and his close alliance with the late Dr Edward Said. I’m convinced that he* retains* that same commitment to the Palestinian cause, as do I and multiple groups of US and international citizens across this country and across the globe.
Again, get over yourself. We’ve heard from you for long enough to know that if it wasn’t that, it would be something else. You don’t like the man for whatever your personal reasons are. You don’t have to ‘get over that’ unless you want to. It won’t drag the rest of us down with you though. An older generation of black folks, (average, everyday black folks) has a term for people like you… “Crabs in a barrel.” If any one or more of the crabs tries to crawl out of the barrel, and take a step up, as so to lend a hand to the others to do the same, there’s always a few among the collection that will do their best to keep them from climbing out. It’s a ‘misery loves company’ thing I guess. Or is it jealousy, yet another hugely destructive human emotion?

Whatever it is, YOU *WILL* BE OVERCOME, by saner and more balanced thinking, because the stakes are too high, for too many.  In other words, it’s not just about you or your disgruntled cronies in Illinois or anywhere else. You’ve recently advocated this planned disturbance at the Convention in Denver. Most of those involved in it are the same disgruntled and bitter Hillary supporters that refuse to accept that she lost the nomination to a far better qualified individual. This will backfire of course, but the amount of damage you and your ilk plan for is unknown at this point.

I expect that it is very helpful for you all to have shown your behinds this early on, because that allows for some preparation to combat it. My own experience as a public servant is that when certain ‘elements’ like you become obvious, there is little that any member of ‘authority’ needs to do, because your fellow citizens can put you back in your boxes a whole lot more effectively. That TOO, is how human nature works in the social condition/environment.


I ditto Tony Wincher. Thanks for the sanity.

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By Tony Wicher, July 25, 2008 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

By Gmonst, July 25 at 8:42 am #

Amen, brother! Thank God we have some people with some good will and common sense starting to post here. The constant negativism has really been a bummer!

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By Tony Wicher, July 25, 2008 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

By ib hernandez, July 24 at 5:36 pm #

You sound just like another Republican operative trying to get as many chumps on the so-called “left” to follow you. Either that or you are one of the chumps. Take your pick.

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By Gmonst, July 25, 2008 at 9:42 am Link to this comment

That was a great speech.  I see the usual haters are out talking about what he didn’t say as if his speeches are flawed if they don’t cover every thing you could think of exactly like you would like it. Stop playing like this guy is going to be some kind of disaster for the U.S.  He clearly has the right stuff to be president, and from all indicators he will be an unusually good one.  It’s easy to see that it was an important moment from a very strong candidate who has all the momentum.  So haters, who is doing better?  Who is showing more ability to revive America’s reputation and respect in the world?  Who do you think could command the world stage with more charisma and charm? Who do you think has the right stuff to lead amongst the diverse opinions and beliefs of the United States?  You all hate, but what alternative are you presenting?  Obama clearly has a talent at connecting with people, working with others, and fostering cooperation.  I don’t see any viable alternatives, and frankly Obama seems like he will be as respectable of a president as we have had in a long time.  Politicians will always be politicians, and they are definitely an imperfect lot.  Obama is a politician, no doubt, but he has an uncommon charisma combined with an uncommon intelligence and political dexterity that set him above the common lot.  In my opinion he has the makings of a very good president much needed in this day and age.

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By Pacrat, July 25, 2008 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain chose to show his appreciation of ethnic Americans by having a bratwurst. We hope that he also had German potato salad and a stein of beer - maybe some red cabbage.

As long as he is pretending to give a damn, why not go all the way?

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By bat guano, July 25, 2008 at 8:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Two popular German acts—reggae artist Patrice and rock band Reamonn—entertained the gathering audience.

Will media report this tonight, or just gush and fawn over the huge crowd again?

For the answer to that question just watch the news or read the above article on Obamadig.

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By troublesum, July 25, 2008 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

As vague in Europe as he always is here:

The speech is desribed as a “tone poem.” That’s what Obama’s speeches tend to be; they put a nice gloss on whatever his topic is, unless he happens to be lecturing black men on morality in which case he gets down to specifics.

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By troublesum, July 25, 2008 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

Obama has never called for tearing down the wall Isreal built, not once, not ever.  When he was in the Illinois legislature there was a sizable Palestinian presence in his district and he accepted campaign contributions and other support from them.  He often expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause while a state senator in Illinois.  As soon as he went to Washington all of that changed.  It was as if he had never known any Palestinians or supported their cause.  This was mentioned early on in the presidential campaign as a harbinger of things to come - a prime example of the breathtaking ease with which Obama switches his positions on important issues.

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By Fadel Abdallah, July 25, 2008 at 2:14 am Link to this comment

Yes, for the time being, it’s just another stump speech at a historic moment. Whether we are going to see substance or results will yet to be seen!

However, the fact that a person of color of humble origins, whose father was a goat herder from Africa, can stand tall in such a world forum, while being welcomed and listened to by such a big crowd, is in itself a unique phenomenon that doesn’t repeat itself often in human history.

As an aside, I am glad that few days before such event, after much hesitation, I decided to invest some money in getting a TV. So I listened to the speech and saw the event and the crowd live on a HD TV, which proved to me that my investment was worth it, since a picture, sometimes, is worth more than thousand words!

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By expat in germany, July 25, 2008 at 2:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes, a speech is a speech, but words have the power to inflame us or inspire us. Thousands of Germans turned out to hear Obama because they are hungry for the kind of change he promises. Perhaps just as children live up or down to our expectations of them, presidential candidates, and presidents, can do the same.

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By cyrena, July 24, 2008 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

Sorry…I forgot the link. Transcript is included.

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By cyrena, July 24, 2008 at 6:42 pm Link to this comment

By dihey, July 24 at 2:14 pm

•  “..nor did he shout “Tear down the walls” in Israel/West Bank where thousands of miles of partitions keep the Palestinians in what a former US President has called “Apartheid.”

Actually dihey, he HAS said exactly this, (about the walls in Israel/Palestine) and more than a few times. He didn’t shout it from a stadium or other similar platform, but rather in the on-going conversation that he’s had with the public via the 21st Century media. I’ll try to find a few of those for you.

By webbedouin, July 24 at 3:16 pm

•  “..Funny that Robert had to go to “crooks & liars” to present a transcript.  Somehow appropriate.


This transcript and video recording of this historical speech is literally ALL OVER the internet. What is REALLY your issue? Never mind, that was a rhetorical question. The reality is that sad to say, TD has attacked those of the Bitter Bone Marrow, and absolutely anything that is posted on this site, that has ANY reference to Barack Obama, has become a magnet for you all to gather to do you routine ‘drainage’. Negative for the sake of negativity.

Now I’m gonna admit that you aren’t QUITE as bad as most here. You even acknowledged his emphasis on human rights, such as the right not to be tortured, and the right to be free from want, and the right not to be genocided, as we’ve watched happen over and over and over again throughout the course of history. Just as we listened to Bill Clinton say how sorry he was that millions of innocent people perished in Rwanda before the world community recognized it as genocide, and took any action whatsoever.

But of course that was only a set-up for you to come back and chastise him for the rights abuses taking place here in the US. Still, even THAT acknowledge puts you slightly ahead of your compadres here, who are hopelessly doomed to cynicism and negativity. We’ve heard from them long enough to know that literally NOTHING that Barack Obama could say or do, would EVER meet with their approval.

So, we leave them to boil in their own misery, and step over the fumes of it, so as not to become infected ourselves.

Here’s another link to the video and I think the transcript. (I’d already downloaded both from other sites, so I didn’t follow it through the entire text this time.) Again, it is published LITERALLY, all over the Internet.

By the way, the poppies in Afghanistan were NOT non-existent under the Taliban. That is a blatant falsehood. Asia=poppies=opium for a few hundred centuries.

Now they may not always have used it to finance terrorist operations, and there damn sure wouldn’t be a market for it, if not for the West. But rest assured, they’ve been growing poppies for a real, real, real, real, long time.

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By ib hernandez, July 24, 2008 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When he became the party nominee I decided to get behind an support him.

He runs around believing his own rhetoric, and I am old enough to know rhetoric when I hear it. Change my behind, there is no change.

Today I can no longer support our party’s nominee.

*A constitutional scholar voting for FISA.
*Support for Blackwater.  (tax dollar give away to private armies)
*Jerusalem the capital of Israel
*Enlarging the scope of the war - Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran

And now he runs around the world acting as he is the president elect - (hubris & arrogance) when he is not even the official party nominee.

Well then great, let Germans citizens who can not vote for him fall for pretty words.  They seem to do this for everyone.

Mr. Obama will change nothing, for he shown myself to have no moral compass.  Whatever I have to say to past the moment, a politician.

For those who believe I am being harsh- think again as to where you live, (in all white gated communities), where you children attend school, etc.
Now you can say that you are not a racist because you support Obama.

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By Joann, July 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Regardless of your like/dislike of Obama as a presidential candidate…. it was a tremendous speech.  How often does an American Senator draw hundreds of thousands of people into a park?  I was proud of his theme(s) and hope that the global perception of America is improved from this day forward.

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By troublesum, July 24, 2008 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

His campaign is supposed to be about change so why does he do these pathetic imitations of JFK and Reagan?  He has no vision of his own so he can only mimic leaders of the past.

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By webbedouin, July 24, 2008 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

Finally got to read a transcript of the speech and fail to see the gloriousness of the speech that the hard core Obama supporters rejoice about.  Hardly more inspiring than a stump speech.  Methinks that some people are too easily impressed.

Funny that Robert had to go to “crooks & liars” to present a transcript.  Somehow appropriate.

Obama has taken the “kool-aide” of the American propaganda.  Would have a much better feeling about him if he acknowledge the terror that America has brought to Afghanistan & Iraq.  And those Afghan poppies that were non-existent under the Taliban.  Then the US can to town.  Poppies everywhere!  You don’t think that US covert operations are being run on those poppies?  If not, you are unaware of American history since the Viet Nam war.

And just what about 9/11?  Suspect we need to take a good look at what really happened there.  The official conspiracy theory has been stretched a bit.

It is good to hear him talk about support for human rights, unfortunately his concerns seem to concentrate upon other countries.  As if rights were not on decline here, would be more impressed if he was talkin’ human rights in America.

Might be illuminating (pun intended) to look at some other Obama quotes from the last week:

“Israel will always be America’s friend.”

“Iran is a grave threat.”

“I’m here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States, my abiding commitment to Israel’s security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner…”

Wonder why he didn’t visit the Gaza Strip?  Don’t see any meaningful change there, Neocon (Likud) platform all the way…  And really, isn’t that what got us into this mess?  Wonder where the lies W used to get us into Iraq came from?  Anybody been reading the AIPAC website over the last 8 years?  Go there now & see what they say about Iran.

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By jonathan, July 24, 2008 at 4:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, Obama would have never gone overseas if he weren’t challanged by McCain in the first place. Now Obama is in Germany moving them to restore their believe in our country while McCain is stuffing his face with German Sausage at a restaurant in the heartland. Don’t you get it yet? People in denial, “Wake up and smell the coffee!

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By Alan, July 24, 2008 at 3:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well he paraphrased the refrain in the
JFK speech(“Let them come to Berlin!”) as:
“Look at Berlin”.  Well we are in the virtual world
of the XXIst century so you can look at Berlin on
youtube, you don’t really have to go there.

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By Tony Wicher, July 24, 2008 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment

By dihey, July 24 at 2:14 pm #

Sure, I would have liked to see him to stop in Gaza as well as Sderot to show his concern for the people there.

But come on, be realistic!

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By dihey, July 24, 2008 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

“Tear down the walls!” shouts Obama in Berlin. This abysmal coward did not shout “Tear down the walls” in Baghdad where the Iraqi people want the walls that divide them destroyed nor did he shout “Tear down the walls” in Israel/West Bank where thousands of miles of partitions keep the Palestinians in what a former US President has called “Apartheid.”

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By Tony Wicher, July 24, 2008 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

A great speech! It may only be a speech, but it’s still great to hear the guy who is going to be our next President say these things. Tear down all the walls! That is the only way. It is possible.

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By Rommel, July 24, 2008 at 2:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Barack. While McCain is stuffing his face in a German restaurant back here in the U.S. you’re showing this country and the world you can handle the job.

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By Bubba, July 24, 2008 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

Another stump speech.

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