By Brent Budowsky - 02/04/08 05:05 PM EST
If and when Barack Obama comes to Berlin and addresses the aspirations of the world, people will be astonished and amazed at the outpouring of good will that will demonstrate again the power of the American idea.
The same forces for idealism and inspiration he unleashes at home speak to larger forces that are common to people everywhere and offer America’s real answer to the politics of fear and the challenge of terror.
From the moment that Jefferson wrote of the decent opinion of mankind and Paine championed a nation that would remake the world, America at its best has embodied what Kennedy said with these words that inspired the world:
“My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America can do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”
Yes: We must rebuild our military and maintain our resolve. We must end the derelictions where troops are sent to battle without adequate supplies and return home to half a trillion dollars of unmet long-term needs.
Yet the power of our weapons can never replace the power of our ideas. The arsenal of our democracy must always be allied with the hopes and aspirations of our friends around the world. The leadership of our country must always inspire the loyalty of those who dream good dreams.
If Obama comes to Berlin, many hundreds of thousands will come with him, with passion and inspiration. They will believe, again, that our dream is their dream, our world is their world, our future is their future.
If Obama comes to Berlin, we will forget the days when an American president was feared and reviled not by our greatest enemies but by so many of our best friends. We will remember the days when we triumphed in war and rebuilt the world in peace by answering fear with courage, and answering despair with a call to higher purpose and common action.
Do not underestimate the power of an American president who rallies the good will of the world.
John McCain is a good man. Against the partisan interests of my party, I publicly defended him from scurrilous attacks on his service in South Carolina, as a matter of honor.
But on the great question of security, McCain mirrors the mistakes of Bush. He cannot rally the world with his talk of a hundred years in Iraq. He cannot inspire the world with his talk of the wars he anticipates we must fight. He cannot lift the world without understanding the economic aspirations he admits have not been his concern. He cannot unite the nation or rally the world with his bitter and partisan talk of “white flag” and “surrender,” which is the tired and discredited parlance of a failed and discredited past.
So: If Hillary Clinton is nominated, let her go to Berlin, and even better, let Barack Obama.
Shakespeare wrote that there is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. There is today a tide in the affairs of men and women here and around the world. When the next American president champions this tide, our friends will say with pride and our enemies will know with dread: Let them come to Berlin.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit and as contributing editor of Fighting Dems News Service. He can be read on The Hill Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.