Sunday, July 20, 2008

Europe's governments immune to Obama-fever

By Noah Barkin - Analysis | Reuters

BERLIN - European fans will cheer on U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama as he visits Berlin, Paris and London this week, but governments wary of his inexperience and evolving policies fear the euphoria is overdone.

Largely an unknown quantity in Europe, the Democratic contender is due to land here on Thursday, kicking off the second part of a foreign tour that began in the Middle East with a speech on trans-Atlantic relations in the German capital.

His appearance at the "Victory Column" in Berlin's central Tiergarten park is expected to draw huge crowds and is being likened in advance to former president John F. Kennedy's celebrated "Ich bin ein Berliner" performance of 1963.

But in the German Chancellery a few hundred meters away there is unease with the Illinois senator's cult-like following and skepticism about whether he can live up to the hype.

"There is a sort of Obama-mania in Germany right now, but I think a lot of people will have their illusions shattered if he does become president," an official in Chancellor Angela Merkel's office told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

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