Obama's Brandenburg-gate

Obama is hoping to speak in Berlin by the Brandenburg gate, and that's been making political waves for a few days now.

Much hilarity ensued:

First, Berlin and the US have a very special relationship owing in part to the immediate post-WWII period and the US response to it. In a way it's eerie, but Berliners--even those born much later--are instilled with a sense of gratitude to the US from a very early age. It's as though we're still dropping candy from the sky and as a result Americans living in Berlin can get away with a little bit more than most (I speak from personal experience). Thus, the Brandenburg gate and other open air sites are places for US politicians to come by and talk. The leaders of other countries very rarely request the use of these sites because it holds less meaning to either Berliners or their own constituents. So, no, no other leader of another country would think of doing this. But that doesn't show Obama as "not so humble". Moreover, traffic patterns around the Brandenburg gate have been modified so that it's not nearly as much of an inconvenience as some might think (cars don't actually drive through the gate): lots of events are held at the gate and most Berliners know to avoid it.

Secondly, it may as well be written into law that the German federal government and the Berlin city government must be at odds with one another at all times. This is a tradition dating all the way back to when the Prussians decided they needed a capitol in the middle of their empire. So of course Merkel will consult with Bush on Obama and whether or not McCain would also want to campaign in Berlin. On the flip-side, though: of course someone from Wowereit's office will find out about that and leak it to the press. Duh...it's all part of the game!

Finally, AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH! JFK's famous speech
WAS NOT IN FRONT OF THE BRANDENBURG GATE. Reagan gave his speech on the West side (for obvious reasons) of the gate. As far as I understand it, Obama will want to give his speech on the East side. That's where Clinton gave his speech. Subtle symbolism alert: facing east, welcoming the "new" countries of the former east block with the old cold war west supporting the rear. Presumably for anyone who was actually there at the time, Obama's speech might be more reminiscent of Clinton than of Reagan. Maybe McCain will want to face towards the West if he decides to show up in Berlin. Beware: Berliners have been known to boo conservative politicians.