The crowd of 200,000 which turned out in Berlin to hear a mere candidate for the US presidency confirms that Obama is more a phenomenon than an ordinary candidate. I struggle to see how he will lose unless he majorly stuffs up. His flip-flops on the surge in Iraq are not going to be sufficient.
The speech was Obama at his best in a presentational sense. Almost every line drew applause. Now I can look at the content and be sceptical of such puffery as ridding the world of nuclear weapons and wanting Jews and Arab to work together, but as a candidate he can get away with such stuff. I do still wonder how he will go in office (ih he wins) when he has to actually make a tough decision.
But if he wins, it is clear he will be an extraordinarily popular United States President globally. And while they don’t vote, it will be refreshing to have a President who has global popularity. It may benefit both the US and Obama’s presidency.
But the flipside is the curse of expectations. When those tough decisions do confront Obama, and he does do something which is unpopular globally – the backlash may be even worse as people could feel a sense of betrayal.
Obama is only 4% ahead of McCain, but he will well ahead in the electoral college vote, and he is receiving twice as much coverage as McCain. This is arguably the result of an uncritical gushy media, but I can’t see it changing.