Barack Obama Gives First Speech to the World, in Berlin

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)

“A World that Stands as One”

July 24th, 2008

Berlin, Germany

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.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in 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!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. 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. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

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.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.


  1. Rafael says

    This was a clever move by the Obama camp, to empower and (indirectly)involve foreigners in the American electoral process serves him both abroad and at home, would they have done this in Japan they would have probably drawn a similar massive crowd.

    On a side note: Chris Matthews’ Hardball was pure genius today, he contrasted the “optic” shown above with that of Sen McCain and and former president Bush riding around in a golf cart, it materialized how out of touch the McCain campaign is when it comes to the needs of the American people.

  2. ubik says

    I was there, though not impressed with the speech, the crowd was amazing. 200.000 seems a low number. It was so packed that I could hardly get to the first screen.

  3. gr8guyca says

    Is this guy capable of giving a BAD speech? Once again, a brilliant speech by Obama. Directed in equal parts to a domestic, a German, and a world audience. Human, intelligent, modest in tone, but grand in meaning. How can someone watch this speech and NOT want to vote for him?

  4. RedCedar says

    I completely agree with Alguien (and have been voting since ’78). The last president I can recall with anything like Obama’s rhetorical skills was Ronald Reagan. (Bill Clinton may well have had them, but didn’t use them so freely.) The last Democrat that truly sticks out in my mind who had a comparably impressive style in his rhetoric was Kennedy (but I was too young to remember any of that firsthand while it was happening, I only know it from recordings and transcripts).

    Having said that, Obama is running a real risk here. To use rhetoric this intensely grand and inspiring is to court the utmost contempt if he fails to deliver (should he win in November).

  5. daveynyc says

    jimmyboyo where ever you are I must say I was impressed..What ever political reasons he had for giving that needed to be made. This is exactly what America needs to some gesture of apology to the world. I think if he would have mentioned Tibet it would have been a perfect 10. If Hillary couldn’t give it I was glad it was him.

  6. nobama says

    It helps to make a speech during the middle of a music festival, which was why most of the people were there. Obama scheduled his speech to be part of it. It was reported on CNN but they took it down shortly after.

  7. paul says

    I’m so excited that Obama is running for office in Germany now! I hope he wins! So what can we do to get McCain to go elsewhere for his next job also? Maybe we can get him elected in Albania or Qatar!

  8. ubik says

    what kind of music festival, nobama? I was there, there was no music festival. Pure bullshit.
    There was a band playing before he wen’t on stage, but nobody went there because of them. I certainly didn’t know who they were.

  9. RB says

    I am sorry, I need to be more specific. He can give a great speach to whomever is listening, and flip flopping hardly describes his “pandering” for votes.

    I cannot trust him.

  10. Rafael says

    @UBIK: He is referring to the Love Parade, which in the past (in a different time, other than today, this week or even this month) has drawn crowds in the six figures to the same venue where Obama’s speech took place. Many articles use the Love Parade as to provide perspective of Obama’s appeal to Europeans. I guess NOBAMA read too much into said articles.

  11. Chris says

    First, let’s be clear: no one was there for the musical festival.

    As another perspective: I was glad to be there and liked the speech. It was definitely an experience. Honestly though, I wasn’t as impressed with the delivery as I thought I would be. Sometimes he’s a really good orator, and yes, the rhetoric was good, but this didn’t give me goose-bumps like some of his speeches. Perhaps it’s because the crowd wasn’t that pumped (despite what the video shows – the constant clapping was all in the front, coming from Americans and others who waited at least three hours to get in); that’s certainly not to say Germans weren’t receptive, only that people tend not to get that rallied up at political events, or at least that’s my impression.

    Other than delivery, the other problem was that it wasn’t completely contextual. That is, whoever wrote the speech didn’t do much investigating into German politics/pysche. For example, A LOT of East Germans have Ostalgie (for reasons I really don’t understand), and so doing the whole UdSSR WAS EVILLL thing didn’t completely click (plus Germans just not so big on the black/white in general). The line “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 a few others also received lots of curious chuckles…the general thought being, “yeah, and sixty-three years ago”? On the other side, I’m very glad he said the things about cooperation, the world community, the inappropriateness of torture in a civil society, and the need for Germany to stay involved in Afghanistan. So all in all, quite good, but I think it’s actually beneficial to remind everyone that however amazing Obama is, there’s no halo 😉

  12. David T says

    Obama did it because he could, and why not address those who doubt his ability to perform on a world stage? If McCain could do it, he would have. That said, it’s still going to be a close race. That has always been the case. But this time, the center will lean to the left. Obama will be our next President.

  13. Bill says

    Since when is it appropriate for presidential candidates to campaign in other countries. I doubt there are not nearly as many registered American voters living in Germany than the people shown in the photo. And frankly, I don’t give a rats-ass what any other country thinks of the presidential candidate I am considering. This campaign move was stupid for no other reason because it shows how arrogant he is.

  14. David T says

    I appreciate your perspective, Chris. My only comments would be that whether there is a halo is up to each individual, not any one person. I am not supporting him because I think he’s angelic. I just think he’s a better candidate. Also, the speech was for America as much as it was for Germany, and maybe even more so. He’s not after all running for office in Germany.

  15. Chris says

    Eek, correction: so apparently, as someone pointed out above, there was no musical festival. There was someone playing beforehand, so I assumed that’s what was being discussed. Anyway.

    @David T: Absolutely the speech was directed towards the US and US voters but it was also most certainly directed towards Europeans and Germans as well (which IMHO is a good idea, given the state of the transatlantic relationship). Just because he’s not running for office here doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to convince Europeans of the need to work with the US and take a greater role in world affairs – especially since, as Senator Obama said, no country is in the position to single-handedly solve the world’s problems. In any event, the things I mentioned merely prevented what I thought was a very good speech from being a great speech. And don’t get me wrong…I’m moving back to the states in a few weeks and will do everything humanly possible I can to get him elected (maybe fill out a few Chicago ballots? ha).

  16. Zeke says

    BILL, I can’t remember but maybe you can refresh my memory; did you bitch when McCain made his speech in Canada?

    You DO know that Canada is an “other country” right?

  17. david in iowa says

    I’ve got better news, Gallop has Obama and McCain tied. Hillary LEADS McCain by 8 points. In 4 key states McCain has gained on Obama and leads in 2. oops! 63% of Americans polled do not think Obama’s over seas field trip makes him more qualified to be president. Thank you America! Yes, the Chosen One is over in Europe making more speeches and the media is drooling so much that have to wrap rolls of paper towels under their chins to keep from slipping and falling.

    This is Obama’s first trip as a Senator and or presidential candidate to Europe. Hillary has been overseas so much she could be Obama’s tour guide and she could introduce him to all the forgein leaders she knows on a first name basis.

    He/Obama is not the strongest candidate, he is the most inexperienced, untested and unvetted possible nominee ever. And if only a few hundred delegates find their balls at the convention in August then Hilary will be the democrats nominee. And all will be right with the world.

  18. God says

    Who does this man think he is? He is no JFK. He is a “community organizer” from the South Side with 2 years of senate experience with absolutely NO important legislative accomplishments.

    And how shallow and gullible do you need to be to get inspired by hackneyed speeches and cliches like “hope” and “change?”

    We are stuck with two terrible candidates – one narcissistic novice who thinks he is the Messiah and a senile old fart who would sell his mother for the presidency.


  19. Bill says

    I didn’t know McCain was in Canada until just today. Perhaps it’s because the media didn’t give a hoot….I certainly do not recall reading about it on this site. As for him being in Canada…I don’t care what Canada thinks of him.

    But perhaps more importantly, I think there is a big a difference between a “speech” to a collective group and an unnecessary iconic performance which sort of comes across more like propoganda than anything really substantive. If Obama wants to give a speech to the Economic Club of Canada, I can only hope that it gets the same amount of press coverage that McCain’s did.

    As for “uppity”…eh…I can’t say that’s a particularly wise word choice. It harkens back to Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill. While I am not a fan of either candidate, I do not think Obama’s campaign or Obama the man deserve being compared to Thomas’ poor choice of words during his confirmation hearings almost 20 years ago, which raised a whole host of issues that I am not convinced are germane to this discussion.

  20. Bob R says

    24PLAY: Wow, Obama’s “uppity”, as in “uppity Negro?” I bet you would agree with Bill O’Reilly about supporting a lynching of Michelle Obama, right? I’m wondering, are you a Log Cabinette or just a regular obnoxious fag?

  21. Chas says

    Ladies and gentlemen, the next President of the United States of America AND leader of the free world.

    BOB R, I’ll let 24PLAY speak for himself, but I’m pretty certain your impression of him is dead wrong. He was calling out the people who don’t have the balls to call Obama what they REALLY think he is (“an uppity negro”), not Obama himself.

  22. 24play says

    Uh, Bob, my original post was sarcastic. The intention was to point out that when a lot of people cite Obama’s “arrogance” as a reason for disliking him, what they really mean is…they find him uppity. As in uppity negro. Or, as Jackie Mason liked to put it, a fancy schvartze.

    Arrogance in a white male candidate is often grudgingly admired. (For example, McCain admits he has no grasp of economics, yet he thinks he’s worthy and deserving of the presidency—at a time when the country is facing dire economic troubles.) In a black man, not so much.

  23. Chas says

    “GOD”: “Who does this man think he is?”

    I’m pretty sure he thinks he’s our next President. Many are inclined to agree.

    Now who do you think you are? Oh, wait…

  24. GOD says

    24PLAY is the perfect example of why I can’t stand Obama. It is his cultish, crazed self-righteous, patronizing and race baiting followers.

    Who the fuck cares if Obama is white, black, grey or purple? Perhaps only those who went to vote for him because of skin color. Most people in America don’t give a fuck. I want a candidate who has TRACK REC ORD AND A SOLID RESUME to back up his empty promises and lofty speeches (which he doesn’t even write himself)

    Obama is not that candidate and I have the right to call him arrogant (channeling JFK, Regan and Martin Luther King at the same time!) without being called racist.

  25. 24play says

    I don’t know, God.

    Asking “Who does this man think he is?” certainly sidles over from “arrogant” toward “uppity.”

    And speaking of emperor’s with no clothes….How exactly is McCain qualified to be president? In 2009, not 1959.

    He admittedly has no facility with economics; his own campaign promises vastly overspend his budget proposals. His idea of foreign policy is to needlessly antagonize the Russians by kicking them out of the G8 at a time when we need their support in Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Zimbabwe, China, North Korea…. He wants to expand Bush’s disastrous policy of rogue-state rollback. And he has no fucking clue about Middle Eastern politics (or geography)—which countries are majority Sunni, which are majority Shia, which terrorist groups are allied with which countries/religious sects, which countries actually share borders.

    He’s a disaster waiting to happen.

    Obama on the other hand, despite having just a couple years of national experience, is on top of just about everything.

  26. Bill says

    I honestly cannot see how the line is drawn from my calling Obama arrogant to your thinking that the color of his skin has something to do with it. Unless I am using obviously offensive language (which ain’t going to happen but that’s not the point), you cannot and should not infer something more sinister from my comments. My balls are not among that which can get lost in “comment world.” So please, unless you have them rolling around in the palm of your hand, and you can see the look in my eyes, no one should assume that they know or don’t know what I have balls for.

    Obama has a difficult task: convincing the majority that he is the best person to take us into what is a very uncertain future. As someone who has been to states (and even areas of my own state) where the color of one’s skin is something people actually consider (or hate or fear depending on who you ask), that’s going to be difficult. This isn’t hate. This is not ignorance. This is reality.

    And if Obama thinks he’s going to be able to convince the many, many Americans (who, like it or not, happen to live in the same country – and in some cases – the same community as you and me), that he is the best person to be the next president, I believe he is arrogant for thinking he can and should do it from Germany. And there is nothing at all hateful, racist or uppity about that opinion.

    And if McCain does the same thing you bet I’ll bitch about it here as well. Assuming, of course, it’s even discussed.

  27. Bill says

    The only thing you have successfully laid out if your belief that anyone who dares consider Obama arrogant is apparently someone with a racist agenda. Your statement that he’s “on top of just about everything” smacks of the same delusion the fictional characters in “Bob Roberts” displayed. But in fairness, I’m not looking in your eyes.

  28. 24play says


    I’m getting two very different messages here.

    One is, How dare you suggest some people who oppose Obama are motivated by racism?

    The other’s in here: “As someone who has been to states (and even areas of my own state) where the color of one’s skin is something people actually consider (or hate or fear depending on who you ask), that’s going to be difficult. This isn’t hate. This is not ignorance. This is reality.”

    From the second one I get, There are people who won’t vote for Obama simply because of his race. (Not to mention: Deal with it.)

    Well, which one is it? It would be just a little lame for you to be appalled at me pointing out something you yourself admit is true.

  29. Bill says


    The first message you should be receiving: I think the stunt in Germany reflects Obama’s arrogance and people just like me who call Obama arrogant are not racist. Also, I never once said I oppose him. I didn’t comment about his policies or his leadership, only the arrogance arising from this event. It was you that raised McCain’s lack of a grasp on the economy (among other things), all of which is not related to my initial point. I didn’t take that bait.

    The second message which is not being received accurately is my describing the reality that there are people in our country who will make their decision for president based on skin color. Is it right? Not in my opinion. Is it reality? Sadly, yes. We MUST deal with it. We must all deal with it much like we have to deal with people who hate us because of who we choose to love.

    But let’s be clear, you didn’t point out anything other than your belief that my use of the word “arrogant” implied some latent racism on my part. I countered. You responded. And since it’s getting late on the east coast, and I am beginning to wonder whether we are actually communicating with one other, I’ve got to make this my last comment for tonite.

    To sort of usurp Obama’s own comments from 2004: there are no red states, there are no blue states, there is only the United States. This country has been divided for far, far too long and there are many, many issues that concern us all. The last time I thought a candidate offered hope, the SOB managed to break my heart within just a few weeks in office. That was Clinton. Since then, I’ve been justifiably (and I think smartly) skeptical of “hope” and I know many others are as well.

    It is my opinion that Obama should be here uniting the electorate instead of campaigning in Germany, and his doing so on the scale he chose to do so reflects an arrogance that I find quite unnerving. Period.


  30. Craig says


    The reason why 24 suspects you have issues with race is your double standard regarding how you perceive the behaviors of Obama versus McCain. McCain as in recent weeks been to among other places Latin America giving speeches. It’s not Obama’s fault that no one in the media cares (or to be more precise no one in the countries he went to afforded McCain a 200,000 person crowd). That’s just on foreign policy.

    More than that, on every other point you made Obama has indeed addressed these issues, but McCain has not. McCain has moved further right on just about every issue you mention, or, as 24 points out, shown complete ignorance. If willful ignorance isn’t a sign of arrogance to you, then why not? So, the question remains- how is Obama anymore “arrogant” than McCain.

    Indeed, the whole arrogant argument is pretty much the “uppidy nigger” frame. I’ve heard it all my life as a black guy who went to a top law school and a top university, and who is now practiced law. What they mean is that I am smart, but they couldn’t handle it. I dated a white guy kind of like you. We were discussing healthcare. I discussed why I supported universal healthcare. When he couldn’t win based on logical arguments, he made two comments- “you are saying this because you are black” and “you are arrogant.”

    The racism you are exhibiting isn’t all that hidden. That’s the point. You’ve been given multiple chances to explain why Obama is anymore arrogant than McCain. Even more importantly, I might add that anyone running for President of the U.S. is going to be by definition a person of great ego. That’s just the nature of the best. It takes a great deal of chutzpah to tell 300 million people, and, indeed, the world– I got what it takes to lead one of the most powerful countries in the world.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that Obama is “arrogant, the only reason why you would notice Obama’s “arrogance” over all of the others is why exactly? Until you answer that question, you are just whistling past dixie about you aren’t racists. Racism is a matter of behavioral choices, not what you label yourself. You are being told how you are applying a double standard here. Now, it’s your job to explain why the double standard.

  31. says

    This all seems academic; no self-respecting American – much less, gay American – can but vote for Obama over McCain…for the future of our country, what is left of our presence in the world, and for the future of LGBT people living in this country.

    (Concentration camps, I’m telling you…not impossible)

    From what I can see, true “arrogance” is displayed by those who are withholding a vote for Obama due to residual resentment for Hillary having lost the race, and more so by those LGBT individuals who, for any reason, can support McCain and still sleep at night.

    Obama should have to be the devil incarnate before any of us would support McCain over him.

  32. Jimmyboyo says

    Like Craig said

    mcshame has given speeches in Canada and Columbia recently.

    mcshame couldn’t pull in 200,000 in those places to save his life. Don’t hate on Obama just because people actually care to hear what he is saying while ignoring mcoldster.

  33. SeanR says

    Jeez, some of you would admire anything that comes out that man’s mouth. Can we start critically evaluating someone who wants to be President please?

    IMO, Obama’s speech was pedestrian (places, events, I know etc.) and a call to working together with Europe… hardly inspiring or innovative. It was billed as something wonderful, but it demonstrated to me that he doesn’t have anything to offer beyond the tired rhetoric of ‘yes we can’.

    While he (almost) apologised for US torture, his mask slipped at a number of points, revealing another imperial American vision… He spoke in Berlin to a German audience in ENGLISH… there was little recognition or praise for the local audience, it was intended as a spectacle for the US audiences. Ignoring your audience is rather arrogant, and the symbolism of an eloquent speaker at a mass rally in Berlin somehow isn’t terribly positive for me.

    While he tried to portray himself as the ‘new kid on the block’, how he referred to political events was telling. Isolated parts of the world were viewed as under-developed, America was seemingly responsible for peace in Northern Ireland, and his selective knowledge of political events/ crises, etc. was anchored in the past and not the future. Finally, his comment that America and Europe had had their differences in the past, and would have differences in the future, simply said to me that America will do whatever it like. I also noted that Obama’s ‘pitch’ about Iraq and Afghanistan was shifting, why isn’t the media picking up on this? Oh wait, they’re all lying down so Obama can rub their bellies…

    You might not think much of McCain becuase he isn’t very media-savvy, but you simply must not get caught up with fawning over the new guy. Start asking difficult questions, cos I think you’ll end up with someone who cannot get beyond soundbites and sounds increasingly vague, when I would like to know more detail this close to the election in November…

  34. Matt says

    I must admit I am getting very tired of every post about Obama on -every- gay site turning into a racial diatribe, but it seems at this point inevitable. so I’ll just make my points on this brief and then move on. Firstly it is very easy for us all to point fingers and call people racist. There are alot of people in America who are in fact racists. I would argue that a fair portion of these people are not even actively aware of the fact that they are racist. I would argue again that a fair few of these people are also minorities. You should hear some of the things my nanna has said about white people, it would turn your face pink.

    My point is racism is not a simplistic thing, its a big multi headed multi faceted hydra and often it rears its head in places we would not expect, and sometimes (I know I myself have been guilty of this) we see it when it is not really there.

    Obama is an incredibly gifted orator, and also incredibly hubristic. I am not going to say that McCain is the same (though I think he is every bit as hubristic, I digress). You do not have to adress McCain to address Obama. Is it a bit hypocritical of McCain to be taking pot shots at Obama over this, well it is his perogative to do so. McCain has indeed spoken in foreign countries, but not in the same context and not to the same audiences that Obama has and is. A little context if you please.

    I am glad that Obama is reaching out to both expatriated voters (of which I am one) and to the world at large, though even as an American living in Europe I question the value of giving this speech at this time. I must admit that I felt a great deal of emotion swirl in me when I read this speech, but as someone posted above, I have by nature of my sexual orientation, my race, my class and too many other reasons to count become a politically wary creature. Honeyed words are not enough. I think this would have been an excellent speech for Sen Obama to make once he is the President (and I genuinely hope for the sake of the world that he does become President) I realize I’m meandering and probably not making much sense at this point (its difficult to make a clear point after reading so many comments with varying degrees of intellectual merit and opinion)so I guess I’ll just summarize the point I am trying to make in a rather unconventional matter.

    Race for better or worse is going to play a factor in this election. Whether we want to admit it or not, that is the reality. Do I think people should be throwing around words with an inherent racial connotation like uppity? No, I find the word personally and morally repugnant. But do I also think that I have a right to assume someones racial dispositions based on their choice of words without having a greater understanding of that person? No. That would be oversimplifying what is an inherently and intrinsically complex issue. Does all of this mean that Obama should get a free pass, because any criticism of him from a person who is not a minority (and more specifically black) carries with it some trace of racism? I hope not, for all of our sake. Is Obama arrogant? Personally I think he is, and regardless of whether that is what it takes to be President, does that mean we should reward it, or look favorably upon it? Defending our nation by going to war ultimately means killing other human beings. Does that mean it is something we should glorify? Just because something is required does not mean it should be considered admirable. Likewise while I consider Obama’s speech admirable in many respects, I question the value and presumptiveness of giving it on foreign soil. The world already watches our elections closely and on some levels I applaud Obama for acknowledging this, but ultimately it is our election and not the worlds. And as a final point, I agree that Obama has not had much experience at the federal level of governance and has pushed no hard legislative program, he has stated he has always been firmly against a war he did not have to vote for or against and is only now starting to form a comprehensive plan for getting us out, after months of simply saying we must pull out as soon as possible (and I applaud him for getting a plan)But before anyone passes him off as a political novice or a “community organizor” (and do not think that the menace of the parenthases that you used are lost on anyone)He survived and arguably thrived in one of the most complex and difficult political machines in the country, namely Chicago and Illinois politics. I suggest you read up on his tenure there before you call him inexperienced or naive (the new yorker article is a good place to start, if you can get past the cover). Finally I find it more troubling that we are whining about the varying levels of experience of McCain and Obama as senators, personally I find it more troubling that we are considering electing one of two people in these difficult and troubled times who have no experience in an executive capacity. They will be inheriting a white house that has seen more power concentrated in it than ever before in our entire history as a country, let us hope that whoever wins this election, they have the clarity and temperence, if not the experience, to wield it wisely.

  35. Ben says

    A few points:

    1. “Yes we can” is important, because it represents a top-down change in attitude. America needs that. Compare side by side Bush’s ridiculous arrogant, frat-boyish and uppity caught-off-guard comments about Wall St and the housing crisis to Obama’s speech from yesterday to see what I mean.

    2. Where Bush was an expression of the collective Baby Boomer freudian id at its worst characteristics (partisan, focused on divisions, still caught up in the issues brought to the fore in the culture wars of the late 60s and 80s,) Obama is the Gen X and Millennial’s first collective expression of how we – Gen Xers and Millennials – do not see the world, society, culture and race in the terms our parents and grandparents do.

    3. The back and forth arguments about the racial implications of terms are missing the heart of the problem – white male privilege. Most people are not even aware of their racial bias, and don’t see them when they subconsciously express them. When a white man describes a black person as arrogant or uppity, he needs to really consider why he feels that way when the same qualities in a fellow white man are not equally derided. Hence the constant reactionary tone of criticism/race-based accusation/rebuttal/continued squabbling.

    4. His speech was all right. Nice to see some positive engagement of the world at large.

  36. Martin says

    I found it particularly funny when BBC interviewed people about Obama’s speech at the Siegessaeule and most of the answers were: Oh, my English is not so good…
    So did they really not understand so much of it!?
    I think that my fellow Germans just went there to see another attraction…

    A lack of substance was missing in the speech. That is the impression of the German press this morning after some analysis. People living in harmony – great – but how does Obama want to achieve this? “Change… hope!” He is missing answers, substance, some ideas, some plans… “We have a plan!” Great. Be a little more specific!

    Everybody is coming to the conclusion in Germany that anything is better than Bush and I guess this is what they wanted to express.

  37. daveynyc says

    David In Iowa- I am so with you. Hillary would have made an amazing President and she can run circles around Obama any time any day. The Democratic party let her and A LOT of Democrats down by not stepping in and confronting all the sexism that kept her from the nomination. I still DO NOT believe the Democratic party should be rewarded for their actions this past year. I may still be writing Hillary’s name in in Nov but even I must admit Obama’s speech was great and inspiring. I think it was wonderful to go abroad and speak in Berlin. America is not the only country in this world and Obama reached out to some of the forgotten ones yesterday. Good for him..does that qualify him to be President no..but I think a lot of people abroad saw something different in Americans yesterday and that is so cool.

  38. TMP says

    Extremely good points well made SEANR.
    No doubt Obama is a good man, well intentioned and yes still complete with some faults common to most all of us. I see in him many of the neccessary components that will make a worthy leader. I truly believe he is laying a foundation for what could be for him personally and thereby for all of us a spectacular turning point in American political history. If all the president had to face were our own social/economic problems I would feel differently but as of yet unfortunately he is not ready for a position that will certainly include facing the complex unparalleled global challenges the next presidency will.

  39. Craig says


    I asked you a simple question because that question goes to the heart of why you are potentially racist- the double standard.

    To explain the double standard that you apply between Obama and McCain was logically speaking , given your diatribes, the only way that you had to demonstrate that they were based on something substantive.

    Rather than answering that question I get more of the same. You are confused. You’re not going to get me to stop asking the question over and over again. The more you post , the more I will keep going back to the same question did he answer the basic questioned asked. I know you can’t because to answer that question gets at the heart why this is racism. Applying an arbitrary standard for language choice with regard to a set of behaviors that are exactly the same. Again, why is McCain who in many ways acting worse on any measure of arrogance okay with you, but you go on rather longish diatribes against Obama.

    Oh, and for the record, not that you asked because your own derangement prevents this, I supported Edwards during the primaries, was neutral after he dropped out, and remained so until June when Clinton dropped out. So, your whole set of assumptions even about my thought process and level of support for Obama is wrong. I am just calling you on your obvious double standard and use of code words that I’ve heard before.

    Now, if you can’t or won’t answer my question, please don’t waste my time with further ramblings about how bad Obama is for whatever crazy reason that you want to make up. I simply won’t read your answer unless you start off by answering the question I asked you rather than going off into Ben’s world.

  40. Bob R says

    24PLAY: your sarcasm escaped me. I took your comment at face value, having seen other posters using similar phrases. It was an angry knee jerk reaction and my response was out of line. I apologize. I hope you accept. I am an older white male living in a very racist and homophobic area (Appalachia). In conversations, many people who really don’t know my politics, assume that as a white male I think like them, and so feel comfortable speaking their minds and exposing themselves as racists. Because I’m former military and look it (very short “High and tight” haircut), I am also exposed to their feelings of homophobia. Most of these folks are straight, but far too many are also gay.

    If someone doesn’t like Obama for his policy positions, or perceived lack of them, fine. I’ll try to educate them. If they really think another 4 years on our current track will be good for America, which is exactly what McCain offers, regardless, fine. I personally think these folks are ignorant and/or selfish, hateful, greedy or just plain mean. But, if their real, honest, deep down objection to Obama is only the color of his skin, then I think they are a lower life form.

    All too many times, for political correctness, people use “code” to mask, yet convey their racism. One of the two most common code words are “inexperience” (which may be legitimate but is easily argued) and he’s a Muslim (unspoken but usually meaning “black” Muslim). I’ve also heard the words “elitist” and and “uppity” used. Some just boldly admit they won’t vote for a nigger.

    I plan to vote for Obama. He was not my first choice, nor do I agree with him on all of his positions. I hope, if elected, he will grow into the job. McCain, to me, is just despicable beyond the pale. And although it is unlikely, at my age, that his Supreme Court picks will affect me, I find his other policies may deeply impact me financially and health wise during whatever years I have left. That’s not to mention the further damage he’ll do to the nation and those making under $200,000 who are stupid enough to support him. So, I hope you understand my over reaction a little better.

    Again, 24 PLAY, I apologize for my earlier comments

  41. 24play says

    No need to apologize, Bob R. It was absolutely clear that you didn’t get my sarcasm, which can be very difficult to detect (and convey) in print.

    No harm done. No offense taken.

    I should have been clearer. My assumption that everybody on here knows I’m strongly supporting Obama may lead me to be a little sloppy in my commenting. I’ll be more careful in the future.

  42. Andrés says

    I’m really happy that Obama is having this tour to cities outside of the United States, still, I do not understand why is Mexico not part of the schedule, or why is the campaign not more directed towards Latin America. We share the same continent, perhaps some attention would be healthy for the tense situation.

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