As Democratic convention closes, Germany adjusts to a pragmatic Obama

President Obama did not deliver the kind of 'Yes we can' speech last night that wowed Germans four years ago. But most Germans are still eager to cheer for him ahead of November elections.

Jae C. Hong/AP
No longer larger than life, but still popular in Germany: President Obama takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday.

Gone are the days of candidate Barack Obama who inspired millions of Germans when he spoke at the Victory Column in Berlin in 2008. Four years later, in the wake of the Democratic National Convention, Germany is assessing the American president more soberly.

"In 2012, he is a man with gray hair and a spotty record," wrote the Financial Times Germany,  arguing that the president offered no new ideas or visions for a second term in the White House.

The Berlin-based left-wing daily taz.die tagezeitung wanted to hear more of a road map from President Obama, commenting: "Barack Obama is still a good rhetorician. But he didn't have that much to say." It gave former President Bill Clinton credit for the best speech in North Carolina.

'Disheartened retailer'

Germans, like millions of people around the globe, fell in love with the charismatic politician who took the global stage four years ago and spoke in a voice very different from that of former President Bush, with whom Europe had a tumultuous relationship. And expectations were high once again before last night's speech.

But analysis of Obama's speech occurs now in the framework of a four-year record in office. "The self-proclaimed healer of the nation and the planet became a disheartened retailer who sells political light fare," sticking to what goes down easily, wrote the Frankfurt-based Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The paper demanded more content from Obama than just asking for four more years. 

Munich-based Sueddeutsche Zeitung criticized Obama for not delivering a vision for America, writing that "compared to Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton, he delivered the poorest speech – and missed out on a huge chance." He was more passionate than Mitt Romney in Tampa, Fla., last week, but that wasn't a great surprise to anyone. What was missing was a new slogan a lot of people were hoping for, the paper said.

Although Obama's speech got only average grades in Germany, the country is still rooting for him. As Spiegel Online put it in its analysis: "He was more president than campaigner." The Hamburg-based online publication argued that it could be enough simply to win against Mr. Romney in November, not blaming him for being more pragmatic in his approach: "It was a president, cornered by the Republican opposition."

Better choice

And the weekly Die Zeit pointed out that the world might have seen just a pragmatic politician last night in Charlotte, N.C.

"Despite all disillusion and disappointment, he still has this huge persuasive power to show why he – in contrast to his challenger Mitt Romney – is the better choice to lead a battered nation into a better future," the paper opined.

The prize for the most telling headline of all, though, goes to the Austrian daily Der Standard: "When Obama became reality."

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