Obama-rama…

22 01 2009

Just a few quick thoughts about the new president.

1. He has already made a positive impression – Guantanamo has been ordered to close today. Despite this, I maintain that the only way is down for him from here. When I say this, I mean only in terms of public opinion. I feel reasonably sure that he cannot ever be as popular again as he has been these past months. When he starts making decisions that actually affect people (taxes for example), then his popularity will, inevitably, fall.

2. He is a breathe of fresh air, but (!), we mustn’t lose track of the fact that he is a politician, and therefore by definition someone who will divide people.

3. He cannot, will not, and does not have all the answers. I am becoming hugely frustrated that people, the world over, are looking at him as some sort of saviour, sent to rid the world of trouble. He can’t. What he can do is let America lead by example in a number of fields. It is unfair to expect him to rid the world’s troubles, or indeed, America’s.

4. Is anyone else seeing parallels between him and the legendary Mandela? To my eyes, Obama is re-treading a path already walked by Mandela, and whilst I accept that there are key differences between the two, I think there are interesting comparisons too.

In short then, yes, it is impressive how many people support him and believe in him, but no, he cannot be expected to right the wrongs of the world in four or eight years. Obama will make a difference to the world, but issues such as the economy, the middle-east and global warming are ones which will obstinately refuse to disappear over the course of the next years. How he deals with them will define how he will be remembered and judged by history.

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Checkered Warnings…

5 11 2008

If you’ve had one eye on the news this week you will have seen how Lewis Hamilton won the F1 drivers championship in dramatic fashion in the last corners of the Brazillian Grand Prix. It was the first time a black person had won the championship.

Also, in America there was the small matter of an election. If you check many people’s facebook statuses you are likely to find out the outcome. Yup, that’s right Barack Obama fairly comprehensively beat John McCain to become the 44th President of the US of A. This election was different to Hamilton’s win, there was no dramatic comeback, no nail-biting moments as the Obama camp had pretty much controlled the race to the White House from start to finish. In all the analysis of the election victory, it is shown that Obama and his team got themselves ahead in the polls, and stayed there.

In the subsequent media overload Obama has captured the imagination of the world, nevermind America. The leftists have gushingly (and rather sickeningly) rushed to pronounce the saviour of world liberty. The right-wing in Britain have pointed to a new era of politician taking the helm.

All that is done and dusted now though. Here is where the real work begins. All the election work was good, but now Obama will be made by how he acts in relation to a few key matters, namely the economy, the war in Iraq, and global warming. These three have been discussed in varying amounts in the campaign, but, as they say, talk is cheap. There can be no illusions, this is the peak for Obama. It is all downhill from here. Now he is the public sweetheart, the apple of the eye of Americans, Brits, and Kenyans, apparently. Now he is on a high where the media love him. This cannot, and will not last. Once the media get their teeth into someone they can be painted however the media wants. Bush, for example, is still a buffoon, someone who cannot speak, write and is about as intelligent as a monkey. Yet he was clever enough to get himself elected now wasn’t he?

My point is that the media will soon fall out of love with Obama, unless he comes good on his promises. Even then situations may dictate that he may have to become the ‘bad guy’, or the ‘fall guy’. The old adage still stands true, what goes up must indeed come down. Obama is at the top now. The world are rejoicing at such a momentous occasion, as indeed this is. We should not get carried away though, and pretend that America has completely changed, there are still pockets of people (McCain voters) who are suspect of Obama due to skin colour. This is the legacy of history, and it will not be easily altered.

Whilst listening to the radio on the way to work I heard an interesting text message read out. It ran “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk so Barack Obama could run so our children can fly.” This though I feel adequately reveals the problems still to be overcome. Running to flying was a hell of a leap. Many are still maintaining that he won because of his skin colour rather than his politics. I think this, to some extent perhaps rings true. Only time will tell how he will be judged. At the moment he can do no wrong. Some day soon he will have to do so by some.





Priorities…

21 10 2008

In life you must always prioritise things. Usually, as a student, that involves completing a piece of work before going out to the pub. There are frequent occasions when it is hard to justify doing something ahead of something else, one piece of work against another, for example.

There are though some things which are easy to prioritise. Family especially. Which is why I am delighted to be reading about Barack Obama taking time out of his hectic campaign to visit his sick grandmother in Hawaii. We all know that this is a critical time for Obama, just weeks before the elections begin, but it is, I think, good to know that even a man clear in the polls for the most important job on the planet, still has his priorities in order.

The beeb reports that his absence will “make his staff nervous“. I think I disagree with this, if anything, the demonstration by Obama that his priorities are his family first and foremost, will appeal to the American public, especially the unconvinced swing voters. The public are quick to forget that politicians are human too. They are prone to emotions, and are as concerned with their families as much as they are with saving the economy. To my mind, showing you are human is an important trait in a society which elevates people to ‘super’ human, above and beyond trivial matters such as emotion. In the age of celebrity the media and public expect certain people to be idyllic images of contentment and perfection. In visiting his sick grandmother, I believe Obama is showing that he is human, and he knows what his priorities are.