Monday, July 28, 2008

Beer, Bratwurst, and Bullshit

Via an email from alert reader Kevin K. (who's got a great post on LaRouche supporters posing as PUMAs), I just got wind of a rumor that free beer and bratwurst were available at Obama's Berlin speech last Thursday to entice a larger crowd to show up.

It's total bullshit.

As I reported right after Obama's appearance, there was lots of beer available. There were half-meter long bratwursts for sale, too - I recall this because even though I loathe sausage, a friend of mine was almost hungry enough to buy one. They looked too nasty, and he decided to go hungry instead.

But the point is, they were for sale. No one was offering free food or drink to lure unsuspecting Germans to the event. And let me say I have a keen nose for free comestibles, since I was usually broke in college and grad school.

People need to use their pea-brains! The sheer cost would have been ridiculous. And just assume for a moment - thinking along with the conspiracists - that a candidate wanted to use beer as a lure. You'd then expect to see posters or other advertisements getting the word out in advance. I arrived in Berlin a week earlier than Obama, I've been out and about by bike, subway, and bus, and I can testify: There was no such publicity. The German press didn't make any mention of freebies either - not before the speech, and not afterward. (And yes, I'm highly fluent in German.)

So who's pushing these rumors? The first hits on Google led me to pro-Hillary sites, including this gem from the Hillary Clinton Forum:
Now we know why Obama had such a large crowd. Free Beer, Pizzas, Bratwurst, and two favorite rock bands. All for free. Obama supposedly help share the cost.
Yes, the bands played for free (from the audience perspective). It's possible that the campaign payed for them. It's possible that they volunteered; there's enough grass-roots Obama love here in Germany that this is conceivable. While I'm sure some of the younger audience members would've known the bands, I didn't recognize their names. Everyone around me thought the music was too loud. We weren't there for the free concert.

A blog called Pagan Power is also pushing the rumor. It too seems to subscribe to Hillary revanchism and sports a big PUMA logo. (Since I left a very civil comment there, debunking the rumor, I'd like to refer anyone who followed me back from there to my comments policy at the top of the right column. Feel free to say hello - nicely.)

I'm sure that this rumor is mostly demon spawn of the wingnuts or other Republican ratfuckers. (Update 7/30/08: Two people already asked me offline about the apparent hypocrisy/hilarity of me breaking my own civility rule right after I invoked it for visitors. But ratfucking is actually a technical term. It's what Nixon's minions called their efforts to gum up the Democrats' campaign machinery. It goes back to Donald Segretti and the Young Republicans that came out of USC - including Karl Rove.)

But gosh, you'd think my fellow Democrats would have better things to do. Like rallying around the effort to defeat McCain in November. Because if he wins and we spend the next 100 years in Iraq, you can be sure none of us will be getting any freebies.

(I rarely have a chance to debunk actual breaking news/rumors, since I'm too lazy, too busy with kids and work, and too much a historian at heart anyway. So it's sort of fun to use my perch in Berlin to play journalist.)


Anonymous said...

I see that Pagan completely ignored your comment and called the guy who said Pagan would put up a retraction a "thug."

Unfortunately, pretty typical for these PUMA folks. They've spent so much time assimilating into the anti-Obama dittohead-like mindset that it's going to take more crowbars than the world can produce to pry them out of it. I hope that folks who aren't as high up in the spoiled-food chain as Pagan can still come to their senses in the next few months.

Sungold said...

I just left another comment there because Pagan is saying people came for the bands (now no further mention of the free food and beer). When my (German) husband read this post last night, he sputtered and laughed out loud when he got to the allegation that the bands were the real draw.

It *is* a dittohead mindset, unfortunately. I'm sure there are some Obama supporters who are similarly uncritical - maybe even as outright deluded. I haven't encountered them yet. While I'm a strong supporter of him, I've also written a number of constructively critical posts. And I'm still furious about the FISA vote.

As for people coming to their senses - that again raises the question of how much of this is legit, and how much is ratfucking from the Republican camp. If the latest Gallup poll is correct, I can't imagine that too many Dems are deeply alienated.