The heated debate over Barack Obama's planned appearance in Berlin appears to have crossed the Atlantic to become a campaign issue at home. It's unlikely now that he will appear in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
he fact that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is less than thrilled about the idea, has made the rounds in the American media. But Obama, casually dressed in an buttondown shirt without a tie, appeared very relaxed. "We have been trying to coordinate with the folks on the ground in terms of finding an appropriate site, but we didn't have a particular site in mind," Obama said according to the paper. "I want to make sure that my message is heard as opposed to creating new controversy. Our goal is for me to lay out how I think about the next administration's role in rebuilding a trans-Atlantic alliance. I don't want the venue to be a distraction."
Bill Galston, once a close advisor to Bill Clinton, complained in the Daily Telegraph that the Obama campaign had been "a bit naïve." And the popular Web site Politico quoted an American in Berlin advising the German government on the visit saying that if Obama were to come and give the speech at the Brandenburg Gate against Merkel's wishes, it could be seen as "arrogant" and "presumptuous." And letters from readers posted on Republican Party-aligned Web sites see Obama's ambitious speech plans as evidence of a Democratic presidential candidate they feel is completely self-enamored.
The Brandenburg Gate presented the perfect stage for Obama to underscore the potential for quickly repairing America's tarnished reputation in Europe. "Americans are particularly concerned about the loss of trust in countries like Germany, which were key allies for so long. And Berlin and the Brandenburg Gate will have special symbolic importance," Stephen Szabo of the German Marshall Fund in Washington told SPIEGEL ONLINE. In his Berlin speech, Obama wants to promote a new beginning for trans-Atlantic relations.
For those who don't know why Merkel is against the speech at the Brandenburg Gate
The warning from the Chancellery was clear: The Brandenburg Gate is the "most famous and history-rich location in Germany," a Chancellery source said on Monday. In the past, it has only been used on very special occasions for addresses by politicians, and when, then only by elected American presidents. More clearly stated: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would be better off looking for another location in the German capital to hold a speech.