Update 7-26-08: Since this post is getting a lot of hits following Obama’s Berlin speech, you might also check out my analysis of its reception, since I was lucky enough to have practically a front-row seat.
This isn’t grounds in itself to vote for my buddy Barack (that’s how he signs his emails to me). But it’s a pretty good supporting reason:
Translated, the cover of this week’s Spiegel (the German counterpart to Time or Newsweek) reads:
The Messiah Factor:
Barack Obama and the Yearning for a New America
No, I’m not suggesting that Obama is any sort of messiah, religious or secular. If I really thought he were, I’d be deeply mistrustful and disinclined to vote for him. (Jon Swift has a great post satirizing all this messianic blather.)
I do think the subtitle’s important, though, because it reflects a new perception abroad that we Americans might be ready to try something different, seeing as how perpetual war hasn’t made us safe, rich, or happy.
When I was in Germany in summer 2002, an otherwise reserved acquaintance, a distinguished professorial type, asked me, “How are things in the rogue state?” It took me a moment to realize he meant the United States. I thought an attack on Iraq was already inevitable. (Andy Card – remember him? – was bloviating on how August was a poor month to sell a war.) And yet, I was shocked – not by his bluntness but by the truth of it.
If Americans are indeed yearning for a new America – for hope, for change – it’s a damn safe bet most of the rest of the world wants it even more fervently. I say only most of the world, because the old America still has its fans. They’re huddled in a few remote caves and sheltered valleys on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, in militia headquarters around Baghdad, in secret cells scattered around the globe.
The only way to thwart them and the politics of fear is to begin rebuilding all the bridges burned over the past seven years. We can call ourselves lucky if any of our old friends are eager to help with reconstruction.