Tag Archive: Brandenburg Gate


“A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” – Ronald Reagan

There are no trigger warnings at the front door.

Arguably there are more aging hippies per square inch in Eugene, Oregon than any other town in America. Berkeley may have a free-range beef against this claim. So be it.

And yet, there is a framed “Reagan Country” 1980 campaign poster in the living room of Almost DailyBrett’s Eugene residence.

Sometimes an aging hippie or wanna-be hippie will be enjoying one of Oregon’s craft beers or a glass of one of the Willamette Valley’s now legendary – and expensive – Pinot Noirs right under the smiling portrait of The Gipper.

Maybe out of politeness, guests neither mention the image of America’s 40th president nor ask to be moved to another venue in the house. Are they just being polite or have they somehow, someway reached the acceptance stage of Reagan’s legacy?

Either stance is just fine with your author.

As Nancy once said about her husband: “Ronnie appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears.”

Making no aspersions either for or against the present leader of the free world, Almost DailyBrett would bring back Ronnie from the grave in a nanosecond. Alas, only one reportedly has risen from the dead.

“The man who beat communism”

Some historical revisionists have debated with your author about the roles that Harry Truman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Pope John Paul II and maybe others played in ushering in the downfall of the Soviet Union and the end of Communism.

Indeed, they all contributed and deserve their respective shares of the credit.

The Reagan deniers are entitled to their opinions, but deep down we all know the truth: Reagan played the pivotal and primary role in ending the Communist menace and bringing down the ghastly Berlin Wall … therefore Reagan hangs proudly on your author’s living room wall.

“By defeating communism, Ronald Reagan ended one of history’s most violent centuries and opened the door … (that) democracy might become available to more of the people who wanted it.” – The Economist, June 12, 2004

“Others hoped, at best, for an uneasy cohabitation with the Soviet Union; he won the Cold War – not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends.” – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan, June 11, 2004

An entire wing of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum on the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin is dedicated to Ronald Reagan with his infamous, “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” speech on continuous loop. The ich bin ein Berliners know the truth.

Walking freely and without fear underneath the Brandenburg Gate, your author appreciates the impact of these monumental words delivered a few feet away when the gate was closed, seemingly forever by the so-called Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR).

The Tax Cuts Worked

“There were two great triumphs, two things that I’m proudest of. One is the economic recovery, in which the people of America created – and filled – 19 million new jobs. The other is the recovery of our morale: America is respected again in the world, and looked to for leadership.” – Ronald Reagan, Farewell Address, Jan. 12, 1989

Some have tried to convince Almost DailyBrett that tax cuts and tax reform (Reagan did both) simply did not, will not, and never will work. Sorry but your author must respectfully disagree.

The 19 million new jobs created  during Reagan’s presidency is a peacetime record in the history of the United States. Inflation plunged from 13.5 percent in 1980 to 5.1 percent two years later. Interest rates dropped from 21.5 percent in 1980 to 10 percent five years later.

As a campaign press director/gubernatorial press secretary for then-California Attorney General/later Governor George Deukmejian, we prevailed in the closest gubernatorial election in the history of the Golden State during a deep recession in 1982. Four years later during the Reagan economic boom, we won by the largest landslide in California’s history.

Yes, Governor George Deukmejian did a great job as the Golden State’s chief executive. We were also helped immensely by the success of Ronald Reagan’s economic policies.

Reagan was not perfect; perfection as always is in short supply.

The Gipper summed up best in his farewell address to the nation:

“All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.”

Not bad, not bad at all, Mr. Poster Man on the living room wall.

http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/reagan-tear-down.htm

https://www.reaganfoundation.org/ronald-reagan/reagan-quotes-speeches/farewell-address-to-the-nation-2/

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/12/news/transcript-of-reagan-s-farewell-address-to-american-people.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/when-reagan-walked-into-the-room/

Ich bin ein Berliner.” – President John F. Kennedy address beside the Brandenburg Gate in 1963

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” – President Ronald Reagan address in the shadow of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987

Berlin is the testicles of the West. Every time I want to make the West scream, I squeeze Berlin.” – Soviet leader Nikita KhrushchevJFKberlin1

There is no place on earth that is more emblematic of the Cold War than the Brandenburg Gate in the geographic center of Berlin. For almost 30 years, absolutely no one could walk through its arches because of the ugly scar of the Berlin Wall (Die Mauer).

The author of Almost DailyBrett travelled to Germany’s capital nearly 20 years ago to walk through the Brandenburg Gate and to secure his piece of the wall (mein Stück der Mauer). Those mature enough remember exactly where they were when the magic word spread in 1989 that the Wall had come down and East Germany’s (a.k.a. German Democratic Republic) repressed citizens were now free and the end of the Cold War was near.brandenburggate

One of those citizens was the daughter of a Lutheran minister and a Ph.D in quantum chemistry, Angela Merkel. Today, she is the third-longest serving Chancellor of Germany and Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year.” The periodical described her as the “Chancellor of the Free World.”

As the most visible leader of not only Europe’s largest economy, Germany, and the European Union, even Merkel cannot avoid consternation.

One such controversy involved a young American Senator by the name of Barack Obama, running for president in the summer of 2008. His aides suggested a Kennedyesque/Reaganesque campaign speech beside the Brandenburg Gate.

Her response was nein. True to form of American politics, not everyone remembers the dispute that way.

A Little Bid “Odd”?

When Barack heard about this plan, he was incredulous. ‘You think we’re setting expectations a little high? Let’s find another spot.’” – Campaign manager David Axelrod recalling Barack Obama’s reaction to a proposed presidential campaign speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in his book, Believer

(German Chancellor Angela) Merkel has “little sympathy for the Brandenburg Gate being used for electioneering and has expressed her doubts about the idea.” – Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg in 2008.

Hmmm … the two above quotes contradict each other.

Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” cover story makes direct reference to Merkel’s government turning down the request of the Obama campaign to burnish the senator’s foreign policy credentials at the Brandenburg Gate on June 24, 2008. Die Kanzerlin believed the gate should be reserved for heads of state (e.g., Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, Kohl …). Sitting members of Congress did not rise to that level.

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time's Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

In this image provided by Time Magazine, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is featured as Time’s Person of the Year. The magazine praises her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis. (Time Magazine via AP)

The German magazine, Der Spiegel, understood the reason why the Obama campaign wanted the Brandenburg Gate as a backdrop. Very few places project the healing of the East-West divide and speaking at das Brandenburger Tor would project foreign policy gravitas for the young senator. Alas, Merkel’s office found the Obama campaign request to be a tad, “odd.”

Despite this decision, Time concluded the relationship between Obama and Merkel has improved since that time. Having said that, Time’s revisiting this issue brings into question Axelrod’s contention that it was Obama … not Merkel … who made the decision to move the speech two kilometers west of the Brandenburg Gate to the other side of the Tiergarten where the Victory Column (Siegessäule) is located.

A legitimate question posed by Almost DailyBrett is why does this case of faulty memories or worse, revisionist history, matter nearly eight years later? The answer is we are heading into a presidential election year and with it comes the pressures to exaggerate, to amplify and to engage in revisionist history.

Age of Pinocchios

The Washington Post awards Pinocchios for those in public life who utter as Winston Churchill would say, “terminological inexactitudes.” Using that standard, Axelrod (Believer, page 292) may be accorded at least one Pinocchio for this description of how Obama … not Merkel … decided against a campaign speech at the Brandenburg Gate.obamaberlin

As those enthrusted to build and enhance brands, guard reputations and be ready to prevent and respond crisis communications situations, public relations professionals must be on guard for terminological inexactitudes (an euphemism for a direct lie).

Sometimes they start as small, little fibs. Let the young senator in your own mind choose the Victory Column instead of the Brandenburg Gate.

But what happens when fibs escalate into bold unsubstantiated claims of Mexico flooding this country with murderers and rapists? Where’s the beef?

What happens when one candidate charges that ISIS is using another candidate’s speeches for recruitment videos? Where are the videos? They exist of they do not exist.

As we move from the presidential campaign Silly Season, defined by subjective judgments by the political class, to the Serious Season when real voters with real results get into the mix, the pressure will be on to push the envelope in terms of personal credentials or worse, the opposition’s perceived missteps.

A little terminological inexactitude here and a little terminological inexactitude there, pretty soon you are talking about whole boat load of Pinocchios.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/brandenburg-gate-controversy-obama-reacts-to-debate-in-berlin-a-565080.html

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Brandenburg-Gate

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/terminological-inexactitude

 

 

 

Brave declarations of glorious victory notwithstanding …

Do you think Hillary Clinton and her public relations team would like to press the 2009 “reset” button with Russia all over again?

How about a reset of the “reset”?

hillaryreset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do they give out PR Mulligans?

The Era of Viral Images

How many ALS campaign “Ice Bucket Challenge” social media videos have you seen so far?

The campaign based upon donors enduring an unceremonious cold-water bath has raised a pledged $62.5 million and counting to fight this fatal disease.

The PR/marketing campaign is beautiful in its simplicity. Accept a friend or colleague’s challenge to video tape yourself being dunked with ice water. Post your video on social media. Invite someone else to do the same. It’s a Ponzi scheme for a great cause.

Former President George W. Bush appeared natural and genuinely had fun as First Lady Laura poured cold water on him at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. He then challenged former President Bill Clinton to do the same.

bushice

Conversely Mitt Romney looked stiff, decked out in his Brooks Brothers’-style suit, as shirt-sleeved Paul Ryan poured water on his former running mate.

No one questions that Mitt and many others should accept the ALS challenge. Having said that, the suit serves as a metaphor for Romney’s stiffness, a characteristic that makes it difficult for Americans to warm up to the notion of the former Governor of Massachusetts in the White House.

It appears that Mitt has not lost his stoicism heading into 2016.

Lasting Metaphors?

Sometimes PR pros need to be careful to not let “props” take on a life of their own, and serve as a not-intended lasting metaphor.

If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, how many words can an ill-chosen gimmick, or for that matter a clearly successful backdrop, mean for a personal brand and/or reputation going forward.

Silent Generation-types and more mature Baby Boomers remember Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table at the United Nations in 1960. Obviously, PR was not a consideration when he engaged in this boorish behavior. Nonetheless this angry incident with his shoe was one for the history books.

nikita

 

The backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate and the hated Berlin Wall served as the framing for John F. Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” and Ronald Reagan’s “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall” speeches. Both Clinton and Barack Obama (as a senator) visited the same venue, but did not leave the same lasting memories.

And then there was the “Mission Accomplished” banner behind George W. Bush saluting a job well-done in Iraq. Everything is tranquil and peaceful in Iraq. Right?

missionaccomplished

Five years ago, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her post-Soviet Union, Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, a “reset” button to signal that all was getting better with the two former Cold War adversaries, the United States and Russian Federation.

A few eyebrows were raised, when the reset button reportedly “borrowed” from a Swiss spa, was emblazoned with the word, peregruzka. The only problem is the word in Russian means, “overcharge” not “reset.” One would think the Department of State may have at least one Harvard-head that knew a thing or two about the Russian language.

That day now seems so long ago. This past spring, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine, and later its Ukrainian backed rebels shot down a defenseless Malaysian 747. Will Vladimir Putin’s Russia actually invade the Ukraine, directly defying the Western world, including those who once wanted to reset US/Russia relations?

And if so, what will the “reset” button symbolize? Will it bring into question Hillary’s geopolitical judgment?

The aforementioned Romney pointed to the image of smiling Hillary and beaming Lavrov taking turns pushing the magical “reset” button. Hillary has no choice but to not only defend her actions, but to follow the time-tested political axiom: “When in doubt declare victory.”

Will being tough be enough? Or does she deep down inside wish that she never, ever heard of a “reset” button?

http://www.businessinsider.com/mitt-romney-hillary-clinton-embarrassing-obama-reset-button

http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1843506_1843505_1843496,00.html

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/07/24/hillary-clinton-stands-by-russian-reset-in-face-of-recent-events/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/03/remember-hillarys-russian-reset-button-guess-where-she-got-it/

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/nikita-khrushchev-throws-a-tantrum-at-the-united-nations

http://www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html

http://www.alsa.org/news/archive/ice-bucket-challenge.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77AuXhORs-E

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