Foreign Policy Blogs

Obama: "Der Schwarze Kennedy"

angela-omerkel-9849178-mfbhtemplateidrenderscaledpropertybildheight225.jpgIn a few hours, Barack Obama takes the stage in Berlin's Tiergarten park for the kind of open-air public address that no American leader has made in Europe in a generation. As I mention in my “Election 2008” blog, not since Ronald Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall in 1987 has there been anything quite like this in Berlin.

Remarkably, Obama is not even his party's official candidate yet, let alone President. Nonetheless, he is being welcomed by European leaders andbarack-steinmeier-9849323-mfbhtemplateidrenderscaledpropertybildheight225.jpg public as someone who could heal the rift in US-European relations, now as much a matter of public perception as a function of differences in policy.

John McCain's strategy of attacking Obama's relative inexperience in foreign affairs seems — for now — to have backfired. McCain challenged Obama to go to Iraq and Obama returned the challenge by conducting a tour of the region that turned out to be quite successful. McCain's campaign is left trying to joke that the U.S. media are so infatuated with Obama that, in the words of the old Frankie Valli song, their reporting is “too good to be true.”

horst-okoehler-9848647-mfbhtemplateidrenderscaledpropertybildheight225.jpgBut it's not just that the so-called “Mainstream Media” — American and now European — are sending valentines to Obama. Conservative voices, such as Anne Coulter, are falling out of love with McCain. The analytically-minded conservative, Robert Novak, acknowledges that McCain is losing ground.

The previous McCain line of attack was to accuse Obama of “flip-flopping.” But now it is McCain who will have to recalibrate his positions and tactics to avoid disillusionment among his Republican base.

The hardest sell, as always, is to attack the media. In truth, the media in theguido-westerama-9849548-mfbhtemplateidrenderscaledpropertybildheight225.jpg United States have treated McCain well, and have rewarded the access he has given them with generally positive coverage of his campaign. But attacking the media now will be seen as trying to shoot the messenger. A wounded cupid doesn't take such offenses lightly.



Mark Dillen

Mark Dillen heads Dillen Associates LLC, an international public affairs consultancy based in San Francisco and Croatia. A former Senior Foreign Service Officer with the US State Department, Mark managed political, media and cultural relations for US embassies in Rome, Berlin, Moscow, Sofia and Belgrade, then moved to the private sector. He has degrees from Columbia and Michigan and was a Diplomat-in-Residence at the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins. Mark has also worked for USAID as a media and political advisor and twice served as election observer and organizer for OSCE in Eastern Europe.

Areas of Focus:
US Government; Europe; Diplomacy