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How they see us: Europe hails Barack Obama
Barack Obama is "a man who can make us like the U.S. once again,&rdquo; said Christian Ultsch in Austria&rsquo;s <em>Die Presse.</em>
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merica has been “resurrected,” said Reymer Klüver in Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The election of Barack Obama was an act of liberation, indeed, of cleansing, for America.” Forty-five years after “a black pastor stood on the white marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial” and announced his dream of an America without racial prejudice, the Americans have actually elected a black man to lead them. It is a historic hour for America—“and for the world.”

This is not just a breakthrough on race, said Vittorio Zucconi in Italy’s La Repubblica. It is also the triumph of the intellectual. The election of Obama, a former professor of constitutional law, is “the revenge of intelligence and preparation” against “the myth of the Everyman.” After eight years of the stubbornly uncurious George W. Bush, most Americans were alarmed when Republican John McCain picked as his running mate an underqualified “hockey mom” who seemed to mock anyone who knew more than she did. American voters finally stood up and declared that “they were tired of being treated like a bunch of idiots content to be governed by a drinking buddy who makes them feel less stupid.” The next inhabitant of the Oval Office will be someone who is not “just like me” but, when it comes to the ability to lead and govern, is “better than me.”

Obama embodies so many facets of America, said Christian Ultsch in Austria’s Die Presse. He is “an agnostic who found faith. The son of a mixed marriage who forged his own identity.” Though a liberal who believes in social justice, he exhibits “conservative family values” and lives the principle of personal responsibility rather than entitlement. While he is no pacifist, he recognized early on that the war in Iraq was a tragic blunder. Finally, “he is a man who can make us like the U.S. once again.”

It’s a good thing Obama is so exceptional, said Spain’s El Pais in an editorial. All over the globe, “Bush has left an enormous legacy of bitterness, and unenviable challenges await” the next president. Obama campaigned on a platform of change, and he will have to put that into practice by changing practically every foreign policy decision Bush made. He must end the war in Iraq, close the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, and deal with “the Middle East time bomb, the resurgent Russian empire, the Chinese challenge,” and the raging poverty and instability in Africa. Most of all, the world looks to him to “bring order to this monumental economic crisis.”

There will be plenty of time to analyze what a difficult task Obama has, said France’s Libération. For now, though, “for just one hour, one day, we will not be prudent or skeptical.” Let the world take this moment to rejoice in the promise of hope. “Try to believe that for the first time in a long time, the New World deserves its name.”

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