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Corridors of Power: Obama Abroad, Libya's Boom Town, Visa Wars and More

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

HISTORICAL NOTE -- Many of the 200,000 or so Germans who thronged the Tiergarten in Berlin to listen to Barack Obama may see him as another John F. Kennedy, but Obama didn't yield to the same temptation of throwing a German phrase into his speech -- and getting it slightly wrong. In 1963, when Kennedy spoke at the Berlin Wall, Berliners roared their approval when the president said he identified with them, even if his historic phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" translates as "I am a doughnut." What Kennedy meant to say was "Ich bin einer Berliner."

Twenty-four years later at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Ronald Reagan played it safe and stuck to English, but his words hardly lacked drama. "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe," Reagan said, "if you seek liberalization, come here, to this gate. Mr Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall." ...

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