Barack Obama lured people to his Berlin speech with FREE beer and food ... NOT!
Apologies for the preponderance of PUMA posts (try saying that ten times fast), but willful dishonesty really crawls up my ass (Willful Dishonesty, My Ass!)...
As Betty noted earlier, the Just Say No Deal coalition issued an extremely shady “press release” Sunday that stated the following about Barack Obama’s Berlin speech [UPDATED TO INCLUDE FULL RELEASE WITH BOLDED PASSAGES]:
United States of America (Press Release) July 27, 2008—
“While coverage of Senator Obama’s Berlin speech provided audiences here at home nothing less that a visual “shock and awe,” it neglected to mention that the well-hyped speech had an opening act: a gratis concert by two wildly popular groups, Reggae artist Patrice and rock band Reamonn. While we appreciate the Obama Campaign’s hospitality, on behalf of furthering US international relations, offering free bratwurst, pizza and even beer for three hours during the free rock concert, we question whether or not the monies might have been better spent here on financially strapped US citizens. Furthermore the Just Say No Deal Coalition identifies this pattern as deceptive to media consumers. Similarly, back on May 20, 2008 in Portland, Oregon, the critically acclaimed local band The Decemberists performed a rare free concert prior to Senator Obama’s appearance (note: there are no reports of free refreshments being served during this appearance).
While news stories generated by both appearances focused on the enormity of the crowd size, few reports mentioned the accompanying perks, leaving some to question whether revelers are showing up for Senator Obama or for free food and entertainment. Without this additional information, Just Say No Deal contends that Americans are being misled about the presumptive Democratic nominee’s true popularity.”
And it’s not only Just Say No Honesty that’s propagating this bullshit, it’s all over the web. Check out the Google search for “Obama,” “Berlin,” and “free beer.” PUMAs and their wingnut comrades-in-arms have been spreading this blatant anti-Obama lie wherever they can.
I looked all over for confirmation that the Obama campaign was plying the crowd with free beer, bratwurst or pizza, but could find no evidence whatsoever that this happened. Here’s what I did find from people who actually attended the event (with emphasis added where appropriate):
eric double-fisting at the obama speech. they sold beer and sausages
It was worth swilling expensive beer and slow-mo bumping-and-grinding through security lines to get within 30 meters (that’s 30 yards) of the Großer Stern—the base of the Victory Column rather than an object “beside” the column as some of the wires had it last week.
From Less Than a Shoestring (after my inquiry in the comments):
The idea of anything ever being FREE in Germany is absurd. Food and drinks were on sale at regular German street/fair prices. Even the media had to pay for their food from vendors!
Oh, and there were even stands hawking beer, both inside and outside the security checkpoint. When’s the last time you could buy beer at a political rally? Now, not too many people were actually drinking it. The weather was hot (mid-80s, but hotter due to all the bodies) and the portapotties so vile that I would’ve preferred dehydration.
And now it gets even better…
I emailed Sungold from Kittywampus, who I’d had no previous interaction with, to see if the free-beer-and-food smear, eagerly amplified by Just Say No Deal (selected-not-elected) leader Diane Mantouvalos via a press release, was true and not only did Sungold write me back confirming my suspicions, but she penned a great follow-up post called, appropriately, “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.)
I am now sending the following email to Diane and the other selected-not-elected Just Say No Deal leader Will Bower:
Dear Diane and Will,
I believe the recent Just Say No Deal press release (still featured on the splash page of your coalition’s web site as of 7/29) stating that Barack Obama lured people to his Berlin speech with free beer and food is erroneous and dishonest. You can read the research I’ve accumulated debunking your claims here:
Either publicly retract your statements if they are, in fact, unsupportable or provide me with reliable sources to back up your claims. The Just Say No Deal coalition’s integrity is on the line here. Let me hear you roar.
UPDATE (7/29 8AM): Still no word from Diane or Will, but they did update the splash page of the Just Say No Deal web site, just, ya know, not in an honorable way…
In debating how McCain could possibly be leading Obama, MSBNC’s Morning Joe Anchors weighed in on the crowd factor, but failed to mention the perks.
Mika: Yeah, but when you look at the crowds Barack Obama has actually generated!
Joe: Crowds Schmrowds (we say: read below)
MORE: Sungold/Kittywampus tried to set the record straight over at No Quarter contributor Paganpower’s blog and was greeted with this...
July 29, 2008 at 4:42 am
kittywampus: If I had reason to believe that you were just some good soul attempting to correct the record i might honor your wishes. But since it is very apparent that you are nothing but an Obot poser take a well deserved hike. Or hop off the nearest cliff like the rest of the Lemmingcrats.
IN ADDITION: Another blogger who was at the Berlin event, Audrey at Uncornered Market, responded to an email from me and has allowed me to reprint her reply…
There was definitely no free beer or sausage where we were! All the trucks were 100% commercial : ) 3.50 Euros ($5.25) for 0.4 liter beer and the same price for a sausage with a bun. Definitely no free beer signs anywhere!
Make sure to check out her account of attending the speech (including some great photos).
UPDATE: Diane, to her credit, responded to my email, but hasn’t given me permission (yet) to reprint it. Long and short, I’m still waiting for some verifiable proof from her that free food and beer was being doled out at the event. She claims it was reported in German media (still waiting for evidence of that) and that a PUMA expat on the ground in Berlin is her source. That’s about it for now.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: We’ve conquered the Googles machine…
obama free beer berlin (currently #2 search result)
obama free food berlin (currently #2 search result)
obama free sausages berlin (currently #2 search result)
obama free bratwurst berlin (currently #1 search result)
SNOPES: Just got an email from them. They’re on the case.