If Barack Obama had one obstacle to the presidency before the vote in November it was to appear presidential, and pass the commander in chief test. Today he crushed these obstacles. It was that good. His speech in Berlin could have been given by John Kennedy, and was better than the one that Reagan delivered.
The speech was eloquent and fluid; it commanded respect and drew great favor with the crowd of more than 100 thousand. This is the first time I have seen live television shots of people in Europe waving american flags rather than wearing paper mache masks.
In terms of symbolism, Obama won the day on two counts: 1st, he passed the presidential threshold with aplomb; 2nd, he took substantial strides towards repairing america’s image on the world stage. if only he wins.
The speech leaves two challenges to consider:
1st has to do with the wall metaphor Obama used repeatedly, following Reagan. Reagan said to tear down the physical wall separating west and east; and the metaphorical wall of ideology separating these two hemispheres.
Obama echoed the sentiment that walls should and could come down; sounding a metaphor for race, religion and ethnic divisions around the globe. The challenge for Obama during this campaign is to propose a similar call to Boeing to take down the wall it is constructing along the US-Mexico border, with the ethnic and class divisions that coincide with construction of the virtual and physical fences to our south.
Second, is a challenge to the American people, which I think is an important subtext to the Obama speech. Since it has become abundantly evident that Obama represents the sort of candidate that Americans say they are ready for, even crave: one who will replace the republican disaster of the past 8 years; one who can string together more than a couple half sentences that McBush passes off as a speech; one that appeals to the hopes and dreams of americans while regaining some respect in the world; one who pledges to end the war in Iraq….. The challenge here is obvious: would americans elect a man whose father was born Kenyan.
The latest polls just released showing McCain having pulled ahead in Colorado and edging closer in minnesota and Michigan and this despite the horrendous gaffe-filled; competency questioning couple weeks McCain has had, well this speaks the challenge for americans to dig a little deeper here to see the real choices before them.