Barack Obama in Berlin
July 24, 2008
He certainly is looking presidential, is he not? Watching Senator Barack Obama's address on Thursday before an estimated crowd of two-hundred thousand German citizens was impressive enough. One could not help being reminded of President Kennedy's triumphant pilgrimage to that very same spot forty-five years and one month before when he proclaimed to the ecstatic masses, "Ich bin ein Berliner!" While it is true that Jack screwed up the translation and unwittingly told the crowd, "I am a jelly donut", his heart was in the right place and the people had no problem figuring out what he meant.
The most amazing thing about the events on Thursday in that formerly divided city was not Barack's speech in itself - beautiful as it no doubt was - but the looks on the faces of the people gathered to hear him. As tarnished as its international reputation has become during the seven and-a-half years of George W. Bush's disastrous reign of error, it is obvious that the United States of America is still viewed by the good people of Deutchland as one of the last, best hopes on earth. Think about it! There they were, hundreds of them - thousands of them - enthusiastically, proudly waving American flags. When was the last time you saw something like that happen outside one of Bush's carefully orchestrated, phony "Town Hall Meetings"? It was a beautiful thing to behold.
Unintentional comedy abounds. While all of this was going on, poor old John McCain could be found standing in the cheese aisle of a supermarket somewhere in eastern Pennsylvania, bitching and moaning that Obama is receiving all of this riveting press coverage. The Arizona senator is dismissing Barack's visit to Iraq earlier in the week as nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. This is the same John McCain who only a year ago was taking the press for a care free stroll through a marketplace outside of Baghdad's Green Zone in order to prove to the clueless viewers of FOX Noise just how "safe" and "secure" Iraq was. As this was happening, he was being guarded by over two-hundred armed soldiers and scores of military helicopters flying overhead. Cheap publicity stunt indeed.
Out of obscurity has come a politician whom for the first time since the early nineteen-sixties has made the world feel a little better about America. Right on cue, the neanderthals of right wing, Hate Radio are telling their lemmings/listeners that they should not vote for Senator Obama for no other reason than the possibility that it would please "Old Europe" (Donald Rumsfeld's infamous description). They say that the welcome he received in France is all the proof one needs to know that Barack is the mortal enemy of all that is good and decent in this great land of ours.
Frog bashing has become the sport of choice in recent years for these assholes. This is particularly offensive to me because I have two lovely and beautiful little French nieces whom I love more than life itself. Remember when they renamed French Fries, "Freedom Fries"? Remember when Rupert Murdoch's New York Toast labeled France and her allies the "Axis of Weasel? What they have conveniently forgotten is that five years ago the French desperately tried to keep the Bush Mob from committing the worst military blunder since Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. In the run up to the war, most American politicians - as well as most of the American people - scorned France for its "timidity". Five years and one million dead bodies later, we still adamantly refuse to admit that France was right and America was wrong. DEAD WRONG.
The most disturbing thing about the presidential contest of 2008 are the numbers. Barack Obama's campaign is ticking like a Swiss watch (Forgive me. I meant a Timex); John McCain's campaign is a travesty. Barack Obama is the most extraordinary candidate to come along in forty-eight years; John McCain is a doddering old fool. After almost thirty years of the Republican assault on our infrastructure and our economy, the bottom is about to drop out. Knowing all of this, the question is just screaming to be asked: Why are these two candidates in a virtual dead heat? How is it that Obama is not twenty or more points ahead of McCain?
The "pundits" have provided all sorts of misleading answers to those questions: Barack Obama has not the experience of John McCain; He is an "unknown quantity"; He's too liberal; The people feel more comfortable with a veteran like McCain navigating the ship of state - Oh, Bullshit! Here's the dirty little secret that no one, thus far, has had the guts to confront: The reason Barack Obama is not killing John McCain in the polls is because he is a black man. Case closed.
We Americans have become the laughingstock of the Milky Way because almost eight years ago, a huge segment of the electorate sincerely believed that sending a brain-dead, cowboy wannabe like George W. Bush to the White House was a fine idea. How is it going to look if we choose a senile old bobblehead over a young and vigorous statesman who has the respect and admiration of the entire world? Gee, we're gonna look awfully silly, don'cha think?
Just think what kind of message electing Barack Obama would send to the world! Even our most entrenched, ideological enemies would have to take pause. They would be forced to say, if only for a fleeting moment, "Well now, hey there! These silly Americans seem to be going off in a totally new direction. Let's see what happens, shall we?"
For two-hundred and thirty-two years, the executive branch of our government has been run by white men. Let's give the old buggers their due, okay? At many times in our history they did an admirable, even monumental job. Those four faces engraved onto the side of Mt. Rushmore? All of them were white guys! Franklin D. Roosevelt was a white guy. As were Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. Let me be as clear as I possibly can be: I believe that white people, for the most part, are perfectly capable of attending to affairs of state. Hell, some of my best friends are white! I'll let you in on a little secret: not only would I let my sister marry a white guy, three of them already have! But let's be perfectly honest here. In the last forty-plus years, white people have screwed this poor country up beyond all recognition. It's high time - in fact the time is long overdue - that a person of color be given the chance to lead this nation. Sure, he might make a shambles of everything like his honky predecessors. But then again, he just might surprise us. We'll never know if we don't take a chance.
There's just too much at stake to foolishly thrust ourselves forward into the past. Right at this minute, the United States Supreme Court is teetering on the brink lunacy. During the next four years, at least two (possibly more) Justices will be retiring. At the moment, here is the balance on the court : you have one bona fide liberal and four moderates defending the Constitution against four right wing extremists. Those who remain under the illusion that John McCain will appoint to that court men and women of a reasonable judicial temperament are only kidding themselves. As he himself has said too many times to count, if elected president, he would appoint activist conservatives. That very reason alone makes Senator Obama's victory in November an imperative.
What we have before us is the kind of golden opportunity that has not come our way since 1932. It will take at least a generation to totally repair the damage that George W. Bush and company have done to America's standing among the international community of nations. The first step in that healing began on Thursday evening when Barack Obama stood up in front of the people of Berlin to make a plea for his proud but damaged country. The positive response of Berliners of all walks of life was enough to make us realize that it will be he - and no one else - who will be able to reach out to our fellow citizens of the world. Maybe - just maybe - he will be able to bring about the dawn of a new era of global peace and understanding. What is beyond dispute is that we need to go down that new, unexplored road. That is obvious to the rest of the world. Will it be as obvious to the American people come Election Day?
Seriously, if the GOP is allowed another four years in the White House, given all of the damage they have done in the last seven-and-a-half years, we're going to look like a nation of idiots.
On July 24, 2008 - on the very same day that Senator Obama gave his speech to the people of Berlin - my dear friend and cousin, Michael Lyford Cullen, turned fifty years old.
Mike, you need to face some serious and unavoidable facts here, Buster: you are an old, old bastard. Not to worry! Three weeks from today, I shall be joining you in old bastardhood.