Obama returns to Berlin, no longer a 'superstar'
WASHINGTON — Five years ago, when Americans had not yet made up their minds on their choice for president, Europe had. More than 200,000 people crowded the streets of Berlin — a favorite backdrop for U.S. politicians reaching for history — to hear then-candidate Barack Obama promise to turn the page on the unpopular policies of George W. Bush.
"Germany meets the superstar," the news magazine Der Spiegel proclaimed on its cover.
As he heads to Europe on Sunday for a visit that will culminate with a sequel to that Berlin speech three days later, Obama has been demoted to mere president.
For many Europeans, Obama's tenure has been a lesson in lowering expectations. >>>
"He's become somewhat demystified."
Obama's failure to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center, his escalation of drone warfare and small steps on global warming are among the reasons the sheen has dulled, polling shows. Another may have been added with the recent revelations that Obama has expanded Bush-era surveillance of phone calls and email. >>>
The audience awaiting him Wednesday will undoubtedly be more skeptical. >>>
In his unabashedly lofty speech five years ago, Obama asked the massive crowd to envision a world without nuclear weapons, a planet Earth healed, without racial or sectarian divisions.
"These are the walls we must tear down," Obama said. "This is the moment to stand as one."
So who is going to shill for the man in mom jeans this time?