Friday, July 25, 2008

Barack Obama at the Site of the Berlin Wall

by Joel Wendland

In the build-up to Obama's Berlin speech on July 24, I wondered what would be the tag line that comes out of this moment. What would Obama say that would be comparable to and/or surpass Kennedy's self-identification with anti-Communist Berliners or Reagan's trite call to "tear down this wall?"

If there was one theme that did that, it was Obama's call to see the world and its people as one, that what harms one, harms all, that our collective effort is needed to tear down the walls built up between races, religions, and regions.

Of course let's not get swept up by form and rhetoric; let's remember that the devil is in the details and that is the site of political struggle.

Unfortunately, many of my friends are obsessed with Obama's apparent anti-Soviet comments. My response: why are you so shocked and surprised? What elese would a Democratic Party candidate for the presidency say? Why would a candidate of the center do anything else? (Recalling of course that so-called candidates of the left have made similar types of comments.) If he had not said those things, the media coverage wouldn't be about his substantive comments or his idealism and vision, but about how he didn't bash the Soviet Union. Believe you me.

The plain fact is that left-center unity is about policy and politics, strategy and tactics not about how nice someone is to the memory of the Soviet Union. Let me check the Communist Party's 2008 election platform... Hold on... Nope I don't see "pro-Soveitism" on it anywhere.

But I do see a call for universal health care, an end to the war, workers' rights, and so on. Let's not get distracted by these other non-issues.