Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The Big O

Its totally and utterly mad - the whole of Berlin, no, the whole of Germany is going totally stir crazy.

The World and European Cup tv screens are being dusted off and rolled out and Berlin has almost already come to a standstill as nearly 2km of road has been closed off.

And why?

Coz Obama is on his way.

Regardless of where you look his face is on the front page of every national and local paper and mentioned in every radio and tv broadcast.

I have to admit I'm completely with them all and am soooooo excited. Well, we all know that I'm an excitable little popette at times anyway but really...this is what its all about somehow.

The fever first started to boil with national discussions of WHERE Obama could talk. His people wanted the Brandenburg Gate, but that's reserved only for already elected people. So the discussion went backwards and forwards and people started to take notice. Finally they've now settled on the Siegessäule the Victory Column on the opposite end of the Strasse der 17. Juli (or Juni, I can never remember). No doubt the pr people will manage to get a shot of him with the Gate behind him especially as he's staying at the famous Adlon on Pariser Platz which is just 20m away. Funny aside, some big wig from Iran is in Berlin until tomorrow afternoon and has the most "safe" hotel - the InterConti. The Adlon is known as the second most safe hotel in Berlin. Mr. O should sleep well then. :D

The last couple of days have been truly manic though and only matched in my time here with the time when the World Cup was hosted here.

So... a huge group of us are going to make our way tomorrow afternoon to stand about and wait for the big man to arrive and talk. Although what about and for how long - I have no idea. Never been to one of these rally thingies before.

But that's just the point and THAT'S what's interesting...

None of us who are going are politically "active".

A lot has been discussed in the press about Obama's lack of international or general experience..blah blah blah.

Well...the feeling in the press over here in Europe and the feeling of the general Norman Normal is well....he's already elected.

One friend who isn't coming tomorrow was like "huh...but why are you going??". Well simple there are 3 reasons:

1). We all are sick and tired of our boring, grey, uninspiring politicians and so shall go and watch someone else's for a bit of charisma.
2). We all kind of have the feeling that we may be a little part of history by being there.

and 3).

I can't vote in the USA. And even though no American I have ever spoken to has ever admitted to voting for Bush, somehow he and the Republicans got in. This cannot happen again. And 76% of Germans agree with me. That's the amount of people who, it was reported on Tuesday, would vote for Obama in Germany.

And so I and very many other people will be going too - to show our support and to hopefully talk with our feet and show the Americans what we think.

I've read so much about how he should concentrate on domestic policy and that this tour is a mistake. Well, you know what? In this day and age, particularly in regards America it is damned important what the rest of the world thinks. Especially when one wants to act as the world's policeman. And domestic policy? Yes, sure its important but quite frankly people - what do politicians actually really change these days? Same shit, different language. A globalised economy means that local policy makes it increasingly harder to steer your economy.

At the end of the day...a Chancellor, President, Prime Minister...they SHOULD be the inspiring ones!! They're bloody leaders! And that's what's missing these days. For me anyway. I'm sick of politicians who rip us off and spout bullshit which we're expected to swallow gratefully. I want to be bowled over with charisma and a bit of sense. I might even whinge less then if my taxes go up.

And ask yourself why McCain isn't going swanning off around the world? Coz he's not liked by the world. And if he came to Berlin sure he's get people out and down at the Victory Column - demonstrating against him. And in force.

The Berliners are a funny bunch and I love them to pieces. There are on average 2 demos a day here. The customer service is abysmal and there is the famous "Berliner Schnautze" (Berlin Gob/mouth), but if they don't like something, they get off their arses and say something. Which is more than can be said for the Brits (remember one million on the streets against the Iraq war and then a roll over and go back to the sofa, tellie and cup of tea anyone?).

And the Berliners, they LOVE bloody America. Not only is it an island of political, social, historical, international and creative muddle, its also one of the few areas where the Americans are genuinely warmly accepted. Even these days. The relationship has changed slightly in recent years, yes. After WWII, the Americans were the victors. Clever people quickly changed their views and made them liberators. The Cold War and Berlin Airlift made them a protective older brother and a huge fondness was there for a generation. Now though, this affection is still there, but with a slight distance. The Berliners have grown up a little and flown the nest, but they still look upon the Americans kindly, even when they do fuck up. Its like leaving home and seeing your parents as fallible; as people. No longer the inaccessible gods that they once were. Doesn't mean that you love them any less, just that you see them with more equal eyes.

No-one's sure how many people will turn up tomorrow. Security is tight and today there was even an "attack". Oh my! Pffft...the Berlin attitude to the guy in his car ramming the security gates with his paint flying all over the place? I quote, "well, the place needed brightening up with a bit of controversial street art". "Now that's what I call guerilla marketing". I'm not being flippant about possible idiots, but I do see see things in perspective.

The police are not being very typical with their German precision and have been quoted as saying that they're expecting between 10,000 and 1 million people. Useful.

No idea, but I shall be there and I'm looking forward to being a part of something. And I hope that the amount who turn up is at the larger end of the scale and I hope to God that the pictures get beamed around the world to show that it IS important this time to vote right...hahaha...right in the sense of "correct"! Even if you see it as a lesser of two evils, you had our respect, you lost it. Maybe this time around you could get it back again.

And anyway, no way that I'm gonna miss Obama having a "Kennedy Moment" and telling the Berliners that he's a doughnut.



Anonymous said...

HS is very political active. She even is head of communications for a political movement. (the fact you never heard of us might indicate i am NOT doing such a great job, but that's beside the point... In Holland we are known *chuckles*)

I would love to see a Kennedy moment, a part of history in the making. On the other hand, I don't like theater and politics to be mixed and the Americans are wonders at making a big show over people instead of issues. I truly hope Obama will be able to address the important issues and that he wont make the mistake to put himself in the spotlight and put the important problems in the shade...

It would be bliss to see Bush go and see someone with an actual working brain in the white house for a change.

Half Short

Banjac Serevi said...

Hi Pops
Long piece on a very serious subject - thought I had drifted onto the Guardian online website for a moment....
No great views on Obama yet. Has he a record of making tough decisions? No idea. That is the challenge. Talking tough in opposition is one thing, delivering (and upsetting whoever is set to lose from that decision) is another.
Labour were great fans of Freedom of Information while not in power. Since being in power they have done their utmost to strangle the law and restrict its use. Bastards.
But the paragraph that really chimed with me was the one mentioning leadership. We largely have managers in charge. No principles, no beliefs, no leadership. Rather than saying where they want to lead us to they seek comfort from focus groups and desperately trying to find the lines of least resistance. Cowardly liars probably sums up my view. Labour and the dodgy Iraq dossier is a fantastic example. Cowardly because they leave British soldiers to fight with inadequate equipment and to die and be injured while they sit in comfort in Whitehall. And liars because the dossier was mostly a work of fiction designed to justify the decision they had made to go to war irrespective of the real facts.
Frothes at mouth and goes to lie down in dark room...

Banjac Serevi said...

Off topic but seen this?

Good for him, well, the principle anyway.

Great fun in the Mail when they dug into the background of the women. Not a druggie prostitute in sight. Middle class, well-educated, doing it through choice.

Poppy said...

Hehehe, yes Banj, I saw the ruling and yes, I agree with you - good for him!

Ok, he's not the world's most sympathetic guy, but at the end of the day what he does privately is his thing.

And respect for him for standing up and being counted, regardless that his family is now most likely dying of humiliation. He stood up for what's right, even at a personal cost.

I do like the Judge's comments though that the sexual activities of Mosley were "unconventional". You reckon that he managed to keep a straight face about that? Unconventional, my arse. 99.9% of us just don't get caught with our pants down, so to speak. And the thought police haven't gotten that good yet.

Poppy said...

Just to stay off topic, here's a link for you Banj:

Refreshing to see a balanced view from the Beep.

Make sure that you read the comments though - Zax from Amersham is fairly amusing and I adore the one from Dean from Reading (I used to live there, I swear that I don't know him ;D)

Banjac Serevi said...

What is Megan on about...?
"as a lifelong player of Dungeons & Dragons I take offence at it being compared to any sex act, however innocuous."
Megan, Cheshire, UK
It seems that D&D players are celebate and have nothing to do with sex. Which given the high percentage of sweaty Metallica T-shirt wearing BO ridden types wandering the dungeons is understandable. But through necessity, not choice.

Banjac Serevi said...

Saw you in the crowd....