July 24th, 2008
04:26 PM ET

Obama in Kalamazoo?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/24/art.obama.germany.jpg caption="Senator Obama waves as he arrives at the Victory Column in Berlin"]
Amy Holmes | Bio
CNN Political Analyst

Berlin, Paris, Kalamazoo. He could have given this speech anywhere. Obama goes to Berlin and winds up in Bangor. But maybe that was the point. Unlike JFK, Clinton, or Reagan, Obama's purpose in Berlin was essentially self-serving.

The great cause at stake was his own campaign — not the threat of Communism, or adapting to a post-Communist world. The great purpose to which Obama was asking his Berlin audience to rally was his own presidential aspirations. Pretty thin, not the stuff of history books.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Raw Politics • T1
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Delphine, Netherlands.EU

    Barack Obama is working hard to show's he's ready for presidency.It's beyond me that people stick with mclame, even if they see him lose.

    Mccain is a thing from the past. Too old to run for president but the last straw for republicans...and it's embarrassing too see how they clung at an old desperate vet.How low can you go?

    Barack Obama is doing a great job, and to all those folks who are in doubt; read his books!

    July 25, 2008 at 7:03 am |
  2. Eddy Butler

    My last post on disagreeing with David Gerden re his suggesting Obama had stepped out of place by talking to Irak Prime Minister the way he did has not appeared so I will be very brief.

    It's clear that the media covers Obama more than Mackein. Because it's a good story. Still, it's obvious that they try to be negative as much as possible, often in a sly way. It's embarrassing. As gifted as he maybe, moderate and all, they don't want this kind of man to be President of the USA. I am sure some people have say: we cannot allow this to happen. But ... it might well happen!
    French Eddy.

    July 25, 2008 at 6:31 am |
  3. J.V.hodgson

    Gosh what negative commentary.
    It goes right against freedom of the individual, and freedom of speech in your esteemed constitution and the freedom to choose wherever you want to say it. So good for you Amy ( freedom of the press), except that you choose to condemn the location primarily and that he is trying to serve only his best interests. What is he supposed to do as the democratic presumptive nominee, not serve his personal or presidential hopes and best interests?
    Finally did you really read the whole speech, because I came away with a totally different interpretation of his comments re -communism, Berlin wall etc as simply an anecdotal comparison to support his position on many internationally importantant issues i.e. that a united Europe and American policy stance wold succeed in the same way as JFK and Reagan did in the past. Again meaning his choice of location was prescient, and intentionally so... sorry there is nothing wrong with that.
    And finally Kalamazoo ( where is that..?) is simply unnecassarily insulting to your intelligence and his, but a great sound bite!!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:58 am |
  4. carol kesling

    the bottom line is some people still cannot accept the thought of a black president even if they actually like the guy .... what a shame he trully a breath of fresh air, havent had that i a while.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:57 am |
  5. carol kesling

    amy you are a typical republican. i am sure if john mccain was over there making the same speech you would singing his praises.you have had your 8 years now its our turn,and by the way they were a wasted 8 years. by the way how about old bushy trying to take credit for n.korea!!!!!!! big laugh. he is truly a LAME DUCK!!!!!!!!!!

    July 25, 2008 at 2:53 am |
  6. Pat

    Larry: Try reading his book i think he actually has 2. And there was a time line for both Obama and Mccain on CNN Election. There is alot there about him from birth to the present. Also, he went to Harvard was "president of the Harvard Law Review" You don't get that by being dumb. Of course, how about McCain. Finished 5th to last in his class at the Naval Academy. Would have probably never finished at all (and most likely would have been thrown out) if his Dad had not been an Admiral and I think his grandfather was an Admiral also. McCain has never been the brightest crayon in the box. I makes me shudder to think of him as president" Can you tell me again, which country we are invading this week, I forgot" If McCain becomes president we will end up with no Allies left in the world. Becuase if they don't do what McCain wants them to do he will just order them to be BOMBED.

    July 25, 2008 at 2:47 am |
  7. greg N.C.

    I don't reaaly care that obama had 200,000 germans at his speach. Let him be president of German, by what little bit of his speach that i have heard he seems to want a one world government and econmey. America needs to get out of that mentallity and get back to taking care of America and the people that live here. Just because he is a good speaker and is "loved" by people in other countries does not make him a good president, he will turn on the American people when he gets in to office.

    I do not trust obama i think he will lead us into more trouble in the world by bowing down to other countries. The United States in the last and only world super power, the world expects us to be their policeman, doctor, nurse, etc. I think we should stop sending all of this aid, (and wasting billions), to other countries.

    July 25, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  8. Victoria

    First and foremost Id like to say that I love Barack Obama! I loved every moment of his speech in Berlin, it was breath-taking! King....we'll take it! LOL The man is a GENIUS, people love him, he has sense...something McCain doesn't have! Or have you not heard him speak...is the American people blind? The man is an idiot, he has said nothing of substance. Everytime he speaks he talks about what Obama is doing...ding ding...Obama isn't worrying about him, but of course the idiot has nothing to say so all he can say is what Obama is doing! Please my fellow Americans wake up, I know for a fact I don't want an idiot leading my country! It'll be worse than having Bush for a 3rd term! OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA...Id join his team any day!

    July 25, 2008 at 12:52 am |
  9. fredsanjose

    Giving a speech that can be given anywhere, isn't that the point? True genius can show off their craft to all people without pandering. You may not agree with Obama's politics but the world is no longer USA vs the rest. We need someone who can communicate to the world, not being the butt of a joke.

    July 25, 2008 at 12:43 am |
  10. Sherry, Atlanta

    So we still 'Tunnel Vision'. It appears that we still can't get past that shadow of 'FEAR THE BLACK MAN'. When does some sense of Intelligence sink in. I suggest America allow Senator Obama step up to the plate...I personally would not want that responsible the next President's will have to undertake. If you were to give it some deep thought, I sincerely believe you too will agree that McCain is not up to the task!!!

    July 24, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  11. Lacey

    What do we need most in America? I think this is THE question we need to answer. Yes, we need lower gas prices. Yes, we need our troops home. I would suggest to you that we need respect from other people in the world. This respect will help lower our gasoline prices AND enable our troops to come home. This presidential race is about so much more than what we see on television.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  12. Larry

    Other than being an educated eloquent speaker; what else do we know about obama? Show me where I can read about his life from the time his kenyan dad took off until he moved to Chicago?

    Supreme Court nominees undergo greater scrutiny than the person(s) seeking the most powerful job in the world.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  13. John D Winslow

    Can't we just luxurate in seeing people in a major European capital waiving USA flags nd cheering an American politician. I feel like I just drank a big glasss of water after 7 years of thurst. Let's just feel good for a while and pray we will feel like this again in January 2009. Come on Americans, we can get our reputation back, we just need a man like Obama to get it for us. John

    July 24, 2008 at 11:27 pm |
  14. abraham

    The idea is to win!!!!!!!!! what is wrong to introdce himself and America to the world.Look we have negative image to the world, I am glad that he tried to change it.
    God bless america

    July 24, 2008 at 11:13 pm |
  15. ken

    American need to understand that it was Mccain who was whining about Obama overseas inexperience, now that he went, everybody is talking down to Obama because he did, and people loves him as a person. Mccain, the Median, and Mccain conservatives extremist needs a life....

    July 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  16. Biagio

    In agreement with all of those who think you're off on a republican rampage...
    I've been following this campaign regularly since the start of the primaries. All I have to say is that the only reason people will vote for McCain is that he "was" a maverick, a different type of republican, and in opposition with most of the mainstream neoconservative politics that brought this country to the dire situation it's in; economical, political, social, and especially global ranking. McCain was induced to embrace the Bush policy to survive the primaries first, and now he became the "sacrificial lamb" of the republican party to get by this election cycle. Let's be honest here, of all the republican candidates, he was the one that could reconcile the center, and hope for some of the traditional conservatives.
    Obama is a leader in the true sense of the word. He was not propped by his party, rather by the people that support him.
    A leader is someone who inspires others, as he does, to follow. The number of people attending, not only this last speech, but also similar ones throughout the campaign, are driven by his authenticity of his words.
    Anyone with a high school diploma can read his speeches and understand the meaning.
    This doesn't mean he's perfect, he's not the savior, or that he'll please all the people all the time. Quite frankly, of the candidates, I prefer to hear someone tell me "it's not going to be rosy... you'll need to pull up your sleeves and work for a better America, a better life, and a better world", rather than "oil prices dropped just because Bush revoked the executive ban on the Atlantic shore drilling!!"
    PLEASE, give me a break! Oil prices dropped as soon as congress threatened to investigate speculative trading, and people couldn't afford their gas-guzzling cars and trucks. (see Ford's results!!)
    BTW, I'm Independent and listen to both conservative and liberal shows and come to my own conclusions based on what makes sense for people at my level not yet earning 6 digit salaries.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  17. Beth

    I really wish that those who are angry with the democratic party's decision to vote for Obama as the nominee would start taking a look at the realities of what Obama has done for this country, in the short time of his running for president. There have been no lies, half truths that have come out of his campaign. There is no million dollar deficit in his campaign, and all attempts to discredit him have failed. Why? Because he has been transparent about who he is and what he stands for. When he has made mistakes, he has "manned up" and apologized. (How often does that happen? It usually takes months or years to admit wrong doing) How many canidates have spoken about the realities of race in this country? How many canidates have spoken up for their wives? As well as allowed their wives to be seen as professionals and not just window dressing, I can think of only one.... How many have inspired so many to take a look the state of our government and take a stand? It is so obvious, that there are those black, white, and brown, that are afraid of a person of color being the leader of the country because of racism, or their own internalized racism. The fact that no one adknowledges that he is bi-racial, and he has said it repeatedly that he is bi-racial is frankly quite sad. We have a country of people and children that are bi-racial that are forced to choose one race or another and it is playing out right here in front of our eyes in this campaign. Our country has chosen for him, he is black. Our country is still caught up in "one drop" rule, because he is mixed with black and white, he is automatically black, he cannot co-exist as both. And all of the negative connotations of what black means to them, means that he cannot or should not be president.
    If true democrats really looked at what they don't like about Sen, Obama, it has nothing to do with his politics it has to do simply with the color of his skin and they don't want no "boy" telling them what to do.

    July 24, 2008 at 11:10 pm |
  18. Cee

    We're getting jaded. We EXPECT a stirring speech with Obama when large crowds gather. It's similar to watching Tiger Woods. Both make the very difficult appear so smooth and easy. And both do it in the clutch on a huge stage under pressure. Their intense preparation merges with their natural ability and the results are noteworthy.

    Campaigns tend to be self serving and I can't imagine Obama's campaign staff did not consider how this speech would play in Kalamazoo. But Amy is incorrect in denying there was a greater purpose to the event. Obama was setting the stage for a rekindling of the transAtlantic alliance that the Bush administration had severely damaged.

    You don't get two hundred thousand people to come to one spot for a walk in the park. Although technically, they must have done that too. I don't think they came just to hear a campaign speech. If they did, they were disappointed because Obama didn't give one. These people wanted to hear someone draw a verbal bridge between European and America, to reaffirm our common values, hopes and aspirations. They expected Obama to do that and he delivered. And that verbal bridge is the higher purpose of his speech.

    July 24, 2008 at 10:55 pm |
  19. GAIL Centre,Al;

    Obama is a smooth talker, delivers a good speech. when are people going to see through this man, it's politics as usual. Our country is in a crisis, we need someone that can turn the country around. YES WE CAN MCCAIN CAN IF ANYBODY CAN.

    July 24, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  20. GAIL Centre,Al;

    Obama has no business overseas, we have enough problems, over there, that needs to be addressed. The media has been in a crazy frenzy, you would think Obama was a rock star. He needs to be over here, he is acting like he is already the president. Has he forgotten about the election in Nov. They're were 18 million voters that didn't vote for him, I think he should be concerned about. I hope he doesn't try to visit the 57th state before he gets back.

    July 24, 2008 at 10:11 pm |
  21. Annie Kate

    Going on a fact finding mission is one thing but Obama is giving what amounts to campaign speeches over there and I don't understand why – Europeans can't vote in our election. His trip would be more palatable if he stuck to fact finding like other politicians have done and quit the speeches that put the focus on him rather than on our country's relationship with the European nations.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 24, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  22. psittacines

    Ever since the GOP began the big "complain campaign" against Obama for getting more air media coverage, CNN, Lou Dobbs, Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and most of the other spokespersons on that cable channel have bent over backwards to pander to McCain criticisms of Obama, negative stories about anything he tries to do, and now, slanted polls that do not take into account his rising Obama majority amongst Hispanics.....

    Only Jack Cafferty remains untouched and unbiased in his commentary....

    I have changed channels and am now watching NBC news exclusively....
    I'd advise others to do the same as it is quite refreshing to see less opinion and more fact....:):)

    July 24, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  23. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL


    That is ridiculous...........

    July 24, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  24. Lauren

    Everyone is jealous of Barack Obama. John McCain and the right would have have loved to have 200,000 people show up to see him. He can bearly fill an elementary school gym. please !

    July 24, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  25. Lauren

    Obama cant win, he does things they want him to do and he gets bashed for it then he does'nt and gets bashed. Its sad to see AMERICANS have so much hate for another AMERICAN. Maybe we should take lessons form Berlin.

    July 24, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  26. Paris

    Arrogant, self-serving and opportunist is the only way you can describe this man.
    Amy can you please tell why CNN hasn’t talked about the fact that less than two months ago Obama said that Iran wasn’t a threat to us (If I recall correctly he said tiny Iran) and just yesterday he said that Iran is the greatest threat to US and Israel?

    July 24, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  27. Ramona

    I disagree with your comments on Obama. He is the only one who can turn the world around and bring nations together. If he stirs a desire in people to think peace then he will have won.Right now, Bush is hopeless and so is McCain. Our children have to see the world in a better light not wars and destruction.

    July 24, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  28. grannyhelen

    and...if McCain had just delivered a speech to 200,000 Berliners as a Presidential candidate (or had managed to get such a crowd in the public speeches he just recently gave in Canada as a Presidential candidate, for instance), your headline would have been McCain the Global Citizen! and your "piece" would have focused on the connection McCain has to the world stage, his experience in world affairs, his new vision for US diplomacy...

    ...blah, blah, blah.

    Come on, Amy. Stop phoning this stuff in and put some thought behind what you write. Or, feel free to emulate the McCain campaign in poorly conceived ideas executed in a haphazard fashion. It seems to be all the rage among conservatives right now.

    July 24, 2008 at 9:22 pm |
  29. Naomi, TX

    All politicians wish they had the kind of charisma and appeal Obama has within the US and abroad... McCain included. Love or hate Obama, let's face it, the man has a gift that comes once in a lifetime.

    Whether it will translate into great leadership we can only wait and see. We can't expect the man to have as much experience as McCain, he is not as old.

    Let's face it though he has managed to do what McCain himself as a freshman senetor back in the day could never have achieved with all his stripes on his side! Let's not fault the man (Obama) for what he has without trying too hard. He's got it, it's his tide and he is surfin' on it... really well. It's not his fault he is more pleasant than McCain in appearance and demeanor 🙂

    July 24, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  30. Mari, Salt Lake City

    Amy, aren't ALL speeches by politicians self-serving! Good grief. The man is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Not since JFK has Germany (in fact, Europe) reacted this way to an American politician! DID you SEE the American flags being waved?????????????????

    I have several European friends, one who lives in the UK and believe me, Bush was seeing as a war-monger. Our relationship with our ALLIES has suffered under the GOP. Senator Obama was speaking not only to Germans but also to us. He was sending a clear message, "I will rebuild our image overseas and will rebuild our relationships."
    Can't see what's wrong with that, considering that we are living in a Global Economy and we, indeed, need Europe's help in fighting the war on international terror.

    Of course, I knew that the 'other side' would find fault with anything and everything Sen. Obama says and does. That's the narrow mindedness of the 'right'. However, I believe....... jealousy takes many forms.

    July 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm |
  31. Larry

    I don't believe that obama was being criticized for not going to London, Paris & Berlin.

    July 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  32. Kanaka Hawaii

    I agree with your whole article and assessment except for your last sentence. Obama's speech and reference to the Berlin Airlift was a historical rallying point between America's past relationship with Berlin, and the future that Obama wants to portray. The Berlin Airlift was also the inaugral mission of what later became the US Air Force, in addition to being its first humanitarian mission . The airlift may not have the kind of historical or signifcant relevance to US or you, but I can assure you that it has great significance to the citizens of Berlin, and the rest of world, who are watching, and who take their cues from the political leaders of the United States. And, if Obama, the first multi-racial candidate in America, becomes President, Berlin will have bragging rights, that his first "historical" speech was at their "Victory Column".

    July 24, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  33. Nicholas Coc

    Has anyone seen the Nostodamus and "end of world" series? The person dipicted in the writings has the erie likeness of Obama, as he seens to be the new "world leader" especially after his speech today in Berlin. IMy hair is standing up. This guy comes off as the clear new world leader already, but the doom scenerio is that he will lead us into a clamity and a world war which will end the earth as we know it.

    July 24, 2008 at 7:04 pm |
  34. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Republican strategist rhetoric..............

    Send McCain anywhere Obama went and give him the same coverage. You will not see 200,000 people show up to see McCain, and the leaders will not stand in line to meet him. You will be forced to put him in a small room somewhere with a large backdrop and a free lunch tray to entice them to come in................. many more will see the light before November..................

    Obama 08

    July 24, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  35. karen-phoenix

    No matter what Obama does you critize him and that is all McBush and the republican party have to get at him about. McCain pushed him into this trip and by GOD Obama did more than an outstanding job. For the first time in 8 years I am becoming proud of my country again! A former republican for Obama!!

    July 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  36. D.L. Williams

    Before Senator Obama went abroad, he was criticized for not having exposure throughout the world. Now that he's demonstrated the ability to command audiences on the world stage, he's criticized for going.
    I would like to see the candidates debate one another but we can't ignore that we currently have very little presence globally that is in any way positive. If Mr. Obama inspires people to actually like Americans again, isn't that a good thing?

    July 24, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  37. Ruby Coria, LA. CA.

    Amy, I look forward to your input.. It's been awhile since an American looked good in Europe & else where., but both Obama n McCain need to talk to us hereat home- I'm still waiting for McCain to say something that will help change things and I DON'T mean DRILL! It doesn't matter weather you like Obama or not, he looks hella good over seas and not the Navy ship.
    see you.

    July 24, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  38. Cindy

    I totally agree! Obama's little jaunt overseas and his speech today is forgetable and nothing that will be remembered in the years to come. It was purely for his own self gratification and trying to get more Americans to see him in a light that most don't and never will.


    July 24, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  39. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    I really wish we'd have those joint town hall meetings with Mccain and Obama on the same stage together. Have those debates and stop all the outside noise of bashing McCain and Obama over every noun, verb and adjective. We Americans aren't stupid. We should be hearing questions given and specific solutions voiced by the two candidates. Neither Big Speeches in Europe or Supermarket visits really holds Obama or McCains feet to the fire.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    July 24, 2008 at 4:43 pm |