Archive for ‘Germany’

April 24, 2009

Pamela Geller vs. LGF

So I wake up from a nap and, curious to know what’s happening out there in blogland, I check Memeorandum and see this headline from Little Green Footballs:

Pamela Geller: Poster Girl for Eurofascists

OK, to boil it down: Next month, Geller will attend a conference in Cologne, Germany, on the Islamicization of Europe. One of the key figures in the German group sponsoring the Cologne conference is Manfred Rouhs. He has appeared at events with neo-Nazi activist Axel Reitz who, in turn, has appeared at events with neo-Nazi activist Christian Worch.

Whence these associations? I’ve explained it before, but I’ll explain it again: The mainstream “conservative” parties in Europe have refused to address effectively the issues of immigration and multiculturalism. (In Europe, multiculturalism takes the form of pandering to their massive number of Islamic immigrants.) Because mainstream politicians have forfeited leadership on these legitimate concerns of their citizens, the vacuum has been filled by the likes of Reitz and Worch. Ergo, if there is a conference in Europe addressing the question of whether Islamicization is a threat, it won’t be organized entirely by “respectable” types.

Thus, Johnson’s guilt-by-association attack on Geller highlights the real problem we face in America: If the Republican Party and the mainstream conservative movement don’t recognize and respond to our own citizens’ concerns about immigration and multiculturalism, then those issues will be taken over by similarly disreputable groups.

What should Geller do? Cancel her trip to Germany? I think not. Rather, she use the occasion to alert Germans to the consequences of cowardice by their leaders. Germans, perhaps better than any other people, are aware of the heinous results when democracy fails in a time of crisis.

Anyone who has read William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich knows that Hitler never would have come to power if the mainstream conservative parties in Germany had more effectively addressed the problems of the Weimar Republic. The German people were desperate for leadership, a credible alternative to the ineptitude of the Social Democrats who dominated Weimar, and Hitler — who had shrewdly studied the tactics of the Social Democrats in his native Austria — appeared to offer such an alternative.

Knowing that history, one sees why so many conservatives were frustrated and outraged about George Bush and John McCain’s open-borders stance on immigration. Anyone who paid attention to talk radio — and I was doing a talk-radio tour to promote Donkey Cons while S.2611 was being debated in the Senate — knew that grassroots conservatives were about 110% against the “shamnesty.” And yet the Republican leadership allowed this opposition to be smeared (and, indeed, John McCain himself smeared them) as “anti-immigrant” and worse.

This was a Weimar-style failure of leadership. The Republicans in Washington were doing the exact opposite of what the people who had elected them wanted them to do. No surprise, then, that the GOP lost the 2006 mid-terms. And then the Republicans nominated as their 2008 presidential candidate the chief Senate advocate of “shamnesty,” who proceeded to demonstrate he was as inept and tone-deaf on economics as he was on immigration.

So, here we are in 2009. The Republican Party is now nearly irrelevant in Washington and Obama and the Democrats are gearing up to push their own “shamnesty.” And what’s Charles Johnson doing? Is LGF rallying conservatives to oppose the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda?

No. Pamela Geller is doing that. Every freaking day. And also getting smeared by LGF every freaking day. The result? She’s doubled her traffic in the past year.

Given the threat we face here in America, I’m willing to let the Germans evaluate how much of a fascist threat Rouhs and Reitz pose to Germany, and I’m willing to let Pamela Geller decide which conferences she does and does not attend.

Mark Steyn, Kathy Shaidle, Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller — we’re all “Rightwing Extremists” now.

UPDATE: Linked by Atlas Shrugs, who laughs at the idea of pro-Israel neo-Nazis. Folks, the tectonic plates of politics are shifting, as I’ve realized ever since I noticed liberal feminist Phyllis Chesler citing The Camp of the Saints. And if anybody feels tempted to hit my tip jar, please don’t resist that temptation.

UPDATE II: Linked at Hyscience, who calls Pamela a “common sense-thinking conservative who’s willing to speak out for what she believes in.”

I like “Rightwing Extremist” better. Easier to remember. BTW, trivia time: “Pamela” is Greek for “honey.”

UPDATE III: Robert Spencer accuses me of writing “sensibly”! And he thinks he’s got a libel problem. Next thing you know, I’ll be accused of being “a top Hayekian public intellectual.” No, wait . . .

July 29, 2008

‘That assertion is not correct’

The Obama campaign and the New York Times try to spin the Landstuhl story:

Before his visit to Ramstein Air Base, which is near the medical center, was canceled, the plan called for reporters to stay behind at an airport terminal while Mr. Obama and one adviser met with the troops. Why? The Pentagon does not allow reporters and photographers inside Landstuhl.
For weeks, Mr. Obama had been planning to visit wounded troops in Germany. . . . Yet the Landstuhl visit carried more risk because it was to come in the middle of an overseas campaign trip.
Robert Gibbs, a senior strategist for the campaign, said Mr. Obama thought he could carry out the visit without being perceived as politicizing it.
But two days before the visit, Pentagon officials told the campaign that only Mr. Obama would be allowed inside the medical center in his capacity as a senator. The adviser who had intended to join Mr. Obama, Scott Gration, a retired major general in the Air Force, was told he could not go along because he was a volunteer campaign adviser. . . .

At which point, reports from other sources indicate, Gration threw a tantrum that was the proximate cause of the cancellation of the visit. Gration apparently had not realized that signing up as a adviser to Obama meant that he would be treated like any other campaign aide. A senator can bring his Senate staffers with him to visit military hospitals, but a candidate cannot bring his campaign staffers.

The New York Times article doesn’t explain that distinction, nor explain that the Obama campaign put the visit to Landstuhl on the media itinerary for the trip. As the transcript of the Friday news gaggle makes clear, the press plane was scheduled to accompany Obama to the Air Force base. Gibbs tried to tell reporters Friday that the plan all along had been for the media to sit in the plane on the tarmac while Obama visited the hospital, but that story doesn’t sound convincing to me.

More likely, I suspect, is that the trip was scheduled by campaign staff who didn’t fully understand the rules (as his Senate staff would) regarding media, campaigns and military hospitals. And it’s clear that Gration didn’t understand the rules, either, or else he would have known that his status as a campaign adviser meant that he wouldn’t be able to accompany Obama into the hospital. The original plan to bring a whole planeload of reporters, photographers and TV crews to the Air Force base indicates that the Obama campaign originally had some idea that there would be a “news event” for them to cover there. (I discussed this on Friday.)

So it’s pretty obvious that Gration and the campaign staff who scheduled the visit to Ramstuhl screwed up, but for some reason Team Obama doesn’t want to come right out and say that. Instead, they keep trying to push back against the McCain campaign’s spin, which doesn’t do anything in terms of undercutting the fundamental narrative that Obama cancelled a visit with wounded troops and instead went to work out with an awestruck German reporterette.

Behind all this is the inescapable fact that Obama’s nine-day foreign trip was never anything other than a gigantic publicity stunt, dreamed up by his campaign staff in a moment of hubris. As I said a month ago, when this trip idea first leaked out to the press:

WTF? Are Plouffe and Axelrod daft? How the heck does it help convince independent voters that Obama can be trusted to fix the economy for ordinary Americans to turn on their TVs and see the candidate in London, Paris or Tel Aviv? . . .
Let me go ahead and predict that one of three things will happen. Either (a) this talk of a foreign trip will be quietly shelved, at the behest of Democratic elders; (b) the plan will be seriously scaled back to no more than 4 days, with maybe a quick London stopover en route to Iraq, and a quick stopover in Paris on the way back; or (c) Team Obama will go ahead with this grandiose scheme and suffer a brutal P.R. beating as a result.

Looks like it’s (c), huh?

UPDATE: Rather like the Obama campaign itself, DRJ at Patterico is seeking a sort of objective moral truth in this story. From a strictly political standpoint, however, truth and morality are irrelevant. What counts in politics (and Hunter S. Thompson saw this clearly, if no one else does) is perception.

Politics is a game in which the spectators ultimately choose the winner, and the spectators base their choices on their own perceptions. It’s like “American Idol” — a strictly objective judge might conclude that two or three singers who were eliminated in the quarterfinals were actually better than the guy who wins, but the viewers at home have the final say-so.

So this back-and-forth over the exact decision-making process whereby the Landstuhl visit was canceled — the quest for verifiable truth, however nuanced and complex — is almost certainly a waste of time and energy. The political truth (i.e., the perception) is simple enough to sum up in three words: “Obama disses troops.”

Liberals have complained for years that their nuanced truth keeps getting stomped by the simple lies of Republicans. But how is “Obama disses troops” less nuanced than “Bush lied, people died” or “war for oil”? Democrats know perfectly well that simple slogans are effective, and they use them whenever they can. It’s only when they’re on the losing end of one of these narrative conflicts that they start whining about “nuance.”

July 28, 2008

‘Black Hawk Down’ veteran vs. Obama

Michael Durant, the helicopter pilot who was held captive in Somalia in the “Black Hawk Down” incident, weighs in on the Landstuhl controversy:

“Over the last week, Barack Obama made time in his busy schedule to hold a rally with 200,000 Germans in Berlin, hold a press conference with French President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris, and hold a solo press conference in front of 10 Downing Street in London. The Obama campaign had also scheduled a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, but this stop was canceled after it became clear that campaign staff, and the traveling press corps, would not be allowed to accompany Senator Obama.”
“I’ve spent time at Ramstein recovering from wounds received in the service of my country, and I’m sure that Senator Obama could have made no better use of his time than to meet with our men and women in uniform there. That Barack Obama believes otherwise casts serious doubt on his judgment and calls into question his priorities.”

(Cross-posted at AmSpec Blog.)

July 26, 2008

McCain ad mentions Landstuhl blunder

Guaranteeing it becomes an issue:

Via Hot Air, where Allahpundit doesn’t really like the ad’s suggestion that the reason Obama cancelled the visit was because he couldn’t bring media. A valid quibble — the cancellation apparently was due to Obama’s military adviser having a snit over being excluded — but ultimately irrelevant. The point is that this incident has now been woven into the McCain campaign’s attack narrative about Obama, meaning that the Obama campaign will have to respond, in turn guaranteeing that Obama is forced into an ongoing discussion of an incident that puts him in an unflattering light.

UPDATE: Fresh coverage by Fox News, ABC, Associated Press, the Politico, the New York Times, CNN and the San Francisco Chronicle. Here is Obama addressing the controversy with Fox’s Bill Hemmer:

(Via Hot Air.) “Our intention was not to publicize this at all,” he says. So why was the Landstuhl visit listed on the press schedule? If the visit hadn’t been on the press schedule, the cancellation wouldn’t have been news. Duh. Meanwhile, Obama tries to spin it at a London press conference:

John Hinderaker:

In the end, this character-revealing blunder may be the only thing voters remember about Obama’s international excursion.

Hope you enjoyed your tank ride, Governor Dukakis.

UPDATE II: Steven Thomas of McClatchy News catches Team Obama on the horns of the photo-op dilemma:

Within hours of Obama’s speech in Berlin, for example, campaign manager David Plouffe used a video of the event in a fund-raising letter. “Watch Barack’s historic speech and share it with your friends,” Plouffe wrote. The e-mail then included a red button urging them to “donate” and linking to a form making it easy to send online contributions ranging from $25 to $2,300.
“I’m not going to deny there’s value,” said Obama’s chief political strategist David Axelrod during one leg of the trip.

(Via Don Surber.) The fact that the trip was a substance-free media-oriented political spectacle only heightens the damage of the Landstuhl blunder.

July 26, 2008

Obama’s Landstuhl firestorm

The media furor over Barack Obama’s cancelled visit with wounded U.S. troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center continues burning, and now the candidate himself has been forced to respond personally — during a press conference after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:

“The staff was working this so I don’t know each and every detail but here is what I understand happened,” Obama said. “We had scheduled to go, we had no problem at all in leaving, we always leave press and staff off — that is why we left it off the schedule. We were treating it in the same way we treat a visit to Walter Reed which I was able to do a few weeks ago without any fanfare whatsoever. I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors, a former military officer.”
Continued Obama, “And we got notice that he would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn’t on the Senate staff. That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political. And the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns.”
“So rather than go forward and potentially get caught up in what might have been considered a political controversy of some sort,” Obama said, “what we decided was that we not make a visit and instead I would call some of the troops that were there. So that essentially would be the extent of the story.”

Obama’s version doesn’t quite square with what others have said. For instance, “we left it off the schedule”? No, it was on the schedule, which was why the media started asking questions when it was cancelled.

At any rate, Obama’s comments merely added more oxygen to the fire: MSNBC, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Times, the New York Daily News, and Reuters all jump on the story this morning. And what’s news on Saturday morning is sure to be discussed on the Sunday morning talk shows which, in turn, generate stories in Monday’s paper. So there’s your big “welcome home” message, Democrats: Obama disses the troops!


July 26, 2008

Hannity on Obama’s cancelled Landstuhl visit

From Sean Hannity’s radio show today:

[Barack Obama] wanted to go visit this military hospital. It was on the campaign sheet to go visit the military hospital in Germany. And we find out that the only restrictions the Pentagon wanted to impose was their rule against turning visits by politicians into campaign events. . . .
The Pentagon says, look, you can come but they’re going to impose their rule against turning a visit by a politician into a campaign event. . . . All the Pentagon said is they advised Obama’s staff — yeah of course he can visit the hospital and injured personnel in Germany but only in his capacity as a Member of Congress. . . .
Obama apparently cancelled the visit and went to work out instead. He went to work out and then said it would be inappropriate as part of a trip financed by his campaign. . . .
So if you want my take on this, if you want to remember one thing about this trip is that Barack Obama chose to work out rather than see the wounded troops because he couldn’t bring Katie Couric, Charlie Gibson, and Brian Williams with him.

Allahpundit discusses, giving Obama some benefit of the doubt. The problem here is that Obama listed the Landstuhl event on his press schedule and then canceled. His staff flunked Media Relations 101: When you put something on your press schedule and then cancel it, you’d better have a plausible explanation. Obama’s attempt to spin this story is doomed to failure. They’d do better just to drop the subject and stop giving it oxygen.

UPDATE: As I explain at AmSpecBlog, looks like this story is going viral: Washington Post and CNN do follow-ups, and Associated Press has a story that will be in hundreds of local papers on Saturday morning. The transcript of Friday’s press briefing, in which Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs tries a push-back gives a flavor of the media interest:

Q: When did you originally decide to go?
I have to get you an exact date but it has been on the schedule for a long time.
Q: Did it not occur to anybody that this might be viewed as a political stop?
We had taken some of that into consideration, but we believed that it could be done in a way that would not create, it would not be created or seen as a campaign stop.
Q: The schedule was for this plane, with us in it, to fly to Ramstein. By the way we were expected to pay for the flight, what were you suppose to do with the entourage then?
You would have stayed on the plane.
Q: We would have stayed on the plane, would there have been any pool report?
There may have been, I don’t know if we ever came to a decision on that.

These reporters’ news organizations have to pay for them to travel with the campaign, and they were going to be charged for a trip to the air base (where the hospital is located), but they would have been stuck on the plane, waiting on the tarmac, with no chance to actually cover the hospital visit. Even a “pool report” (where one reporter accompanies the candidate, then files a description of the event that the rest of the press corps uses for their stories) might have been seen as a violation of the Pentagon rules.

What all this points to (and the reporters seem to be working toward this angle) is a huge planning error by the Obama campaign. The Pentagon has never allowed wounded GIs in hospitals to be used as political props, and any Senate staffer should know this. Unfortunately, the Landstuhl trip wasn’t planned by Obama’s Senate staff, it was planned by his campaign staff, who didn’t know the rules.

All of which, of course, feeds into the anti-Obama narrative of the trip, namely that it was really just one big media photo-op from the get-go, rather than the kind “fact-finding” expedition his campaign had tried to frame it as.

This is a P.R. debacle of the first magnitude. Can’t you just hear George Will talking about this on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning? Oh, and just wait until Ann Coulter comes out with her column on Wednesday . . .

July 25, 2008

Berlin Backlash Builds

Barack Obama’s grandiose gesture — “a manifesto for the planet,” as Mike Allen calls it — at the Siegessaule in Berlin prompts an inevitable reaction, and it’s not good news for the apostles of Hope. As yesterday’s Quote of the Day hinted, it is a political liability to be seen as a “citizen of the world” who seems “more popular in Germany than in rural Pennsylvania.” And as Instapundit says, “This headline won’t help”:

Especially when, as Ed Morrissey points out, the visit was apparently cancelled because the military wouldn’t allow Obama to bring along his media entourage for a photo-op.

Further reaction is likely — El Rushbo is already ripping Obama over his “arrogant” speech– and I’ll try to update as the backlash builds today.

UPDATE: Susan Estrich explains why Obama could be hurt by his status as a media darling:

[B]eing the favorite of the press doesn’t necessarily win you votes. Most people don’t actually like the press. The friend of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Being liked by the boys and girls on the bus doesn’t necessarily earn you the respect of the people back home.

Ding, ding, ding! Another hubris alert from Nicole Allan at The New Republic:

During his Berlin speech today, at which he was welcomed with seeming rapture, he spoke to the “people of the world” as if he were already president of the United States of America and all she represents. The McCain camp was quick to read some irony into this.

Republicans doing irony? How dare they!

UPDATE II: Meanwhile, continuing the trend noted in my Pajamas Media article Wednesday, John McCain keeps up the attack in the “heartland”:

“My opponent, of course, is traveling in Europe, and tomorrow his tour takes him to France,” Mr. McCain said with [Tour de France champion Lance] Armstrong at the Columbus event, according to his prepared remarks. “In a scene Lance would recognize, a throng of adoring fans awaits Senator Obama in Paris — and that’s just the American press.”

Remember that the latest Rasmussen poll shows McCain 10 points ahead in Ohio.

UPDATE III: Mocked by the Times of London.

UPDATE IV: Howard Kurtz reports:

Not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote of the coverage: “McCain is now cast as the crabby uncle who visits and shrieks there’s no gin in your house,” while Obama is “busy fighting off throngs of reporters, a cast of thousands as urgent and impassioned as in those old Hollywood biblical epics.”
Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent who is now journalist in residence at the University of Delaware, says the notion that Obama was making real news — as opposed to exploiting pretty backdrops — is “a sham argument. Of course it’s a photo op. If he wanted to go to Afghanistan as a senator, he could have done it.”

There can be no doubt that, if Obama loses Nov. 4, the media will go into mourning.

UPDATE V: Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) on MSNBC:

Barack Obama has always had a great charismatic style, but the substance has never been there and his inexperience is one of the things that troubles a lot of people. . . . He went [to Europe] . . . to try to give himself some kind of kind of patina of credibility.

Watch out for the shark, Fonzie!

UPDATE VI: Congratulations to Michelle Malkin, who celebrated her 15th wedding anniversary yesterday, and returns today to observe of the media’s honeymoon with Obama: “Ever so slowly, the glow is dimming.”

July 25, 2008

Quote of the Day

“It’s unquestionably true that most Americans want the rest of the world to think better of them. On the other hand, it’s also true that, if asked whether they’d vote for a man whose father was Kenyan, who lived in Indonesia as a child, and who seems more popular in Germany than in rural Pennsylvania, a majority would probably say no.”
Noam Scheiber

July 25, 2008

Obama in Berlin

As Ed Morrisey notes, this video of the speech was sent out by the Obama campaign as part of a fundraising email:

Other reaction from around the ‘Net:

  • James Poulos calls the “citizen of the world” line a mistake.
  • Daniel Larison calls the line a “blunder” and says: “Obama misjudges the public mood here in the U.S. quite badly if he thinks that ‘this is the moment’ when Americans are interested in tearing down walls and embracing globalisation.”
  • The German press is predictably enthusiastic.
  • Dean Barnett: “Perhaps Obama’s ego has grown so large that he figures one country, even the world’s lone superpower, is no longer worthy of his leadership. A quick prediction — ‘the citizen of the world’ mess-up will be one of the issues that frames the rest of the election.”
  • Kevin Holtsberry: “What it really came down to . . . was Obama the messiah giving the world a giant pep talk.”
  • Obama didn’t have time to visit U.S. troops in Germany, but Karen Tumulty of Time notes that he and his staff had time for “celebratory martinis” after the speech.

My reaction to the speech? Just click the video:

Ich bin ein “Kumbayah”!

July 20, 2008

Obama’s symbolic problem

Barack Obama’s foreign trip is, as multiple press accounts affirm, “aimed at bolstering his foreign policy credentials” (CNN) and “an effort to look presidential on the world stage” (Chicago Tribune). In other words, a symbolic gesture — and it might help Team Obama to choose their symbols wisely:

Barack Obama, when he arrives in Berlin on July 24, will hold his speech at the Siegessäule monument in the heart of the city. . . .
The Siegessäule — or Victory Column — was erected in memory of Prussia’s victories over Denmark (1864), Austria (1866) and France (1870/71). The column originally stood in front of the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, but was moved by Adolf Hitler to its current location in 1939 to make way for his planned transformation of Berlin into the Nazi capital “Germania.”
“The Siegessäule in Berlin was moved to where it is now by Adolf Hitler. He saw it as a symbol of German superiority and of the victorious wars against Denmark, Austria and France,” the deputy leader of the Free Democrats, Rainer Brüderle, told Bild am Sonntag. He raised the question as to “whether Barack Obama was advised correctly in his choice of the Siegessäule as the site to hold a speech on his vision for a more cooperative world.”
Andreas Schockenhoff of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats said, “the Siegessäule in Berlin is dedicated to a victory over neighbors who are today our European friends and allies. It is a problematic symbol.”

(Via Hot Air.) Congratulations on your tasteful gesture, Team Obama. Welcome to your Dukakis tank ride. Obama-Eagleton ’08!

UPDATE: Discerning Texan at Astute Bloggers:

I cynically commented the other day that the only thing missing from Obama’s German “rally” was Albert Speer; now I’m not so sure I wasn’t actually on to something…

Directed by Leni Riefenstahl?