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Barack Obama, in Dayton, says nice things about Angela Merkel, in Germany

July 12, 2008 |  2:44 am

Ticket readers no doubt remember our item the other day about German Chancellor Angela Merkel sending out a spokesman to express "great skepticism as to whether it is appropriate to bring an election campaign being fought not in Germany but in the United States to the Brandenburg Gate."

It's a really nice-looking gate all right, not in the Wyoming sense, but in that monolithic, stone European horses-and-chariots Berlin's really German-looking Brandenburg Gatesense. In fact, the Brandenburg has horses on top.

It would make a terrific backdrop for some freshman senator from Illinois with not that much foreign affairs experience to be seen giving a speech on, say, foreign affairs.

Ronald Reagan, who was also from Illinois, spoke there as a sitting president, not someone running for it. And when he went against his advisors' urgings and called on Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall, the gate was a symbol of the Cold War.

Today, it's a symbol of German unity. But to Americans, it just looks really foreign -- in large part because nothing in the United States would be allowed to stand like that for 219 years.

Not without being rezoned for lofts.

Foreign-looking is all an American candidate really needs anyway.

Friday, just two days after the Germans seemed to ...

... put the schnitzel on his campaign appearance at the Berlin gate, Barack Obama was speaking in Dayton, Ohio, which is a good place to talk about foreign affairs because of its proximity to Indiana.

The Times' eagle-earred Louise Roug was on duty and noted Obama seeming to go out of his way to say nice things about Ms. Merkel, perhaps as a kind of apology or maybe a plea to reconsidGerman Chancellor Angela Merkeler. Here's what Obama said:

"Across the planet, countries like Germany and the United Kingdom have already implemented clean-energy polices that are reducing their carbon emissions right now, and leaders like Tony Blair and Angela Merkel have done a great job of raising the visibility of climate change within the G8. 

"Now it's our turn to lead –- to show that this future is possible for America."

American politicians burnishing or building foreign affairs credentials tend to make their foreign trips just above the legal speed limits, "doing" the Middle East and Europe in, say, four days if the traffic's not too bad. Paris and London in the same day. John McCain recently "did" Colombia and Mexico in, what, 72 hours. He got home way before his postcards. 

Details of Obama's big trip have not been announced, allegedly for security reasons. But he's certain to "do" Iraq, where he last was in 2006, and Afghanistan, where he's never been, and Israel, of course, and maybe Jordan and France and Germany and Britain.

By the time he gets to his last stop, Obama will no doubt have read his briefing book and learned that Tony Blair is no longer the prime minister of Britain. The new guy is Gordon Brown, who's from Scotland, where the men wear skirts and guests are expected to try one on. Imagine that photo on Drudge.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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