In case any of you folks here are interested what Europeans think about the American campaign: The popular German weekly is showing Obama, who is going to visit Berlin on Thursday, on the cover of their latest issue: "Germany meets the Super-Star" The paper offers an 11-page article about Obama, the American campaign and the expectations held in Germany towards Obama. Here a few excerpts: Obama for Germany (...) Barack Obama's voice will not be heard at the Brandenburg Gate. It's too soon for that. He is often compared to Kennedy and evokes similar expectations, but he still isn't big enough to get thrown into the mills of German politics: His wish to hold a speech at Brandenburg Gate has been rejected by Chancellor Angela Merkel. But at least, he will come to Berlin. He is being expected like a magician who can turn a bad world into a good one. Never before, the visit of a designated candidate has evoked so much fuss in Germany. (...) Obama is the hope of a Western world that is plagued by many sorrows. (...) The West is searching for its new place in an "incompleted world order", as Peter Bender called the current state. How strong will China, Russia and India become? How will the West treat these countries? And, is there still such a thing as "the West"? It's the hour for leadership. And only one man is trusted to master this task: Barack Obama. Especially the Germans put their hope in him, 76% consider him the better candidate [compared to McCain with 10% only]. Obama for Germany. (...) Obama visits a country that is seemingly missing leadership. (...) Blandness everywhere, so the American charismatic must appear like a messiah to many. Especially because there is much work to do in order to rebuild German-American relations. Certain doubts about the big brother on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean have grown to genuine discord during the Bush era. So there is much ahead for a man, who has not even been elected yet. (...) His wish to speak at Brandenburg Gate has rather received ungracious reactions in America. (...) Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, on the other hand, understood instantly Obama would like to speak there. Where else? The Gate used to be a symbol for German division and now the landmark for unity, Berlin's most famous location. Wowereit was flabbergasted when Chancellor Angela Merkel issued concerns against Obama's speech in front of the Gate. The official explanation was that such an important and symbolic place should not become the arena for a foreign electoral campaign. (...) Possibly, Merkel [center-right Christian Democrat] sees the visit through partisan glasses. A victory for the Democrat Obama might be a push for the German Social Democrats [center-left]. In Klaus Wowereit's office [Social Dems], there are suspicions Merkel does not begrudge the Mayor such a nice opportunity. (...) On thursday, the Germans will be able to see Obama with their own eyes for the first time. And they hope to learn something about his plans, also for Germany. In the political spheres in Berlin, there is a small rift when it comes to the evaluation of the candidate: The conservative camp [Merkel's Christian Dems] emphasizes the differences between Obama and McCain are being exaggerated. Maybe the "honeymoon" would last longer with McCain, CSU [Bavarian conservatives] foreign policy expert Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg says. But at the latest on the NATO summit next spring, the "break line" would be reached. Then, any US President would reveal his ideas for a new transatlantic cooperation, including demands for more troops for violent south Afghanistan. This estimation is shared by most experts in American research institutes. There are warnings of overdrawn expectations, McCain's qualities and experience are emphasized, he should not be underestimated, there are warnings of the Democrat Obama's lack of experience, who will likely face one or the other bad surprise sooner or later. Foreign politicians of SPD [center-left Social Dems], FDP [libertarians] and Green Party [center-left environmentalists] are not impressed by these warnings. With Obama, it would "finally be possible again to talk about common values", FDP foreign policy expert Werner Hoyer rejoices. Green politician Jürgen Trittin expects a "genuine new start", supported by former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer [Green Party]: "We know with more or less certainty what we'd get with a President McCain". There would be no change in the substance of American policies, unlike the case Obama will be elected. He could possibly "fail, fail big time even, but he could also become one of the really great American Presidents". Foreign Minister Steinmeier [center-left Social Dem] hopes the Democratic Senator would stand "for a new, open American foreign policy" as President. (...) These are the expectations in Germany. But the image of the new candidate is unclear. (...) Obama's ambition to reconcile Europeans and Americans is visible. He places emphasis on cooperation, in order to stop the free fall of America's reputation abroad. "The Americans don't want to be the skunk on the garden party any longer", Jackson Janes, director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies says. Obama wants to be popular, yes. But he wants more: He and his advisers leave no doubt partnership also means asking allies to take more responsibility. A President Obama will support in order to demand. "Tough love" Americans call this style of policy, which provides stick and carrot at the same time. (...) "The Europeans have to decide if they want to be a world power, or not", [Zbigniew Brzezinski] says. If yes, that means partaking in decisions -- but also partaking in responsibility and paying the bill. (...) Regarding climate protection, both candidates supposedly appeal to the Germans. (...) [Obama's] model here is the German energy policy of the former red-green coalition [Chancellor Schröder's center-left government 1998-2005]. "Germany, a country as clouded as the pacific north-west of our country, now is the world leader regarding solar technology", he said on a speech late July in Las Vegas. America has to copy and surpass this example, so his message. (...) For Germany, the probably most important aspect of these elections is that Bush will go. Who ever will succeed him will have to face the challenging task of renewing the difficult German-American relations. For more than 50 years, these relations had been clear and unambiguous. The victorious power, which had defeated and divided Germany, soon became a protecting power a warrant for freedom of the Western state, against the lust for expansion of the communist neighbor. Symbol for this role was Berlin. (...) Friendship with the USA became reason of state. Of course there was disagreement now and then, but the true core of the relation, which had always been more similar to family bond than an alliance between states, was never damaged. When the solution of the German Question was on the schedule in 1989, the American partners rewarded the Federal Republic for their decade-long loyalty. President George Bush sr unconditionally supported the German Reunification -- against Britain and France who feared a new dominance of their historical rival. His successor played saxophone when he had to go to war, he preferred to do it for human rights. Because of that, even the Germans were ready to join him. In retrospect, those were the golden years, never had the German-American friendship been closer. (...) In a Pew Institute poll, 78% of the Germans said they have a positive opinion of America back then. In 2007, Pew asked again, and the number of Germans with a positive opinion of America had dropped to 30% only. (...) Since Merkel is in the Chancellery, the climate has improved on government level, but the people still doesn't have a better opinion of America. There is no political discussion about the USA and war, without the places Abu Ghureib and Guantanamo being mentioned, places of inhumane barbarism. Only 27% of the Germans would still call America a "power of goodness", the Daily Telegraph reported recently. (...) The Texan Bush is the embodiment of everything Germans dislike about America: The stubbornness of the Southener, carelessness and boastfulness. Obama is much closer to the Germans, despite his skin color, he seems less strange, he has this wonderful European attitude: Not cowboy from Texas, but Harvard graduate with an urban background, instead of a "straight shooter" a man who values dialog and mutual understanding. (...) The article can be found in the latest print version of Der Spiegel.