I actually started to think this was Photoshopped. Since his head looked unusually large and out of proportion with his shoulders. But then I noticed the soldier's bracelet on his right wrist and his usual watch he always wears on the other. I wonder when this photo was taken.
This photo alone speaks volumes for me and describes exactly why I voted for him... from the Mac Book to the water bottle and his relaxed-rolled-up-sleeves appearance to the pointing. Even the fellow on the cell phone in the background looks like he could be a failed CEO pacing nervously, not noticing the American people looking at him while Mr. Pres. is demanding our attention. I kind of feel sorry for the position that Obama's in right now. He's going to fight an uphill battle against strong winds. How could you not be proud he's leading the U.S.?
Oddly enough, i think the 'cream of nothing' sentiment is perhaps a strength as well as a weakness, though I am a bucktoothed limey so what do I know about US politics?
I got the impression that after 8 years of Bush and all the division and hate that went with it, a message of hope, even a fairly shallow one, was important for the national psyche. Also it means foreigners don;t hate the US quite so much perhaps, my american friends who live over here in Europe have commented on that a lot since the election.
After the election result even the Republicans I saw on TV seemed genuinely moved by the sea change in US society that Obama seems to represent for now. If there is a downside, I guess its that he comes into his presidency in a time of such financial crisis. Obama with some cash to spend, and the ability to save political capital for actual change not propping up the financial sector could have done some good things I think (but I would certainly be a democrat if I was American, so that's probably a pinko liberal point of view).
I've heard a lot of Brits saying they wish they had an Obama as a leader too, though scarily enough I think Blair was our Obama, of a sort anyway. Young, dynamic, but no experience in power and in the end as much a media figure as a politician. We all loved Blair for a while here (most of us anyway) but the honeymoon wore off after 9/11 and our involvement in a bloody war began, taking with it many lives and more and more of our civil liberties.
Politics seems to be an extension of PR so much these days, it depresses us and drives the political apathy we all talk about over here in Blighty. It seems idealism in the centre/left is kinda dead, only the right produces viable candidates with strongly help views while the people purporting to represent my views get shallower every day.
A friend and I came up with the idea of the 'Beliefs' party - the only litmus test for inclusion is that you have to have strongly held views and beliefs but have to be prepared to enter into genuine discussion about them, and listen to people who disagree with you. We'd take people from the right and left, and we'd never get in power of course, but at least we might get the odd politician who I could actually get behind once in a while.
The "division and hate" directly resulted from the closeness of the political division in the country. After eighth years of Clinton which followed 12 years of Reagan Bush you had about as close of an election as you can. I contend that few on the Democrat/Liberal side gave Bush a chance and read through the glasses of "stolen election" everything he did. However, HAD Gore won the election, the Republican/Conservative side would have done the same exact thing to Gore.
The Democrats could not create a viable alternative in 2004--Kerry sank his election campaign faster than a man in a rowboat with a shotgun. So this inflammed the anger on the Democrat/Liberal side.
When elections are close, parties play to their "bases." Unfortunately, this means said bases think they are what the majority voted for. So the frankly religious conservative base of the Republicans--"PsychoCons" as I call them--pretended that the election then re-election of Bush meant a majority of Americans wanted their social agenda as opposed to simply realizing Bush had a better clue than Kerry with regards to foreign policy, particularly terrorism.
This, I think, alienated a lot of people. The Terry Schiavo case--people who hated Bush should take note that many conservatives preferred his brother Jed who makes George seems an apostate!--rather hammered home what the social agenda of the PsychoCons are.
Fine. Next comes the fact that the two principle candidates of 2008 behaved as if they deserved the nominations: Clinton and Guliani.
Hilary, perhaps unfairly, represented what people came to hate about her husband--ineffectual, mean-spirited, a crony willing to sell pardons . . . all of that. She lack all of Bill's charm. Rudy? He never got off the landing pad, and the "base" hated him because despite being devote Catholic he rather believes in science. Instead you had one veritable PsychoCon--Huckabee who thinks science is a matter of opinion--and a Wannabe PsychoCon--Romney--who tried to play the religious angle. Both looked like the worse of Bush without the practicality--in other words, unless you are a religious conservative, you had to ask why would you want more of what you disliked in Bush.
This all colored McCain. He had to play to that. Problems was by being "not a PsychoCon" he upset the base of the party that saw themselves losing control as the Moonbats and Lotus Eaters on the Democrat side felt with Clinton/Gore. Every time he "cozied" up to them he merely underscored or justified the stereotype that the Republicans are more concerned about your children becoming Atheists or--Heavens to Betsy--gay than what to do with, say, Iran . . . other than start Armageddon in time for Christmas.
But . . . McCain was winning. He tied Obama in polls and was on the upswing. Obama did not seem to have an actual plan for foreign or domestic policy other than to just declare "I'll do it better!" Obama was and is an empty shirt. He sucked the Chicago teet to get ahead. I am more than familiar with the church he had to join to get noticed locally. Him claiming not to agree with it suddenly after 20 years is about as believable as Sean Hannity claiming he does not believe "we are a Christian nation!" However, since Obama is 1) Young and 2) Empty--people could imagine whatever they wanted. He could be whatever you want him to be--like Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite. That may seem superficial, but never doubt the power of the ability to get a whole lot of people who disagree to think you agree with each group.
But . . . McCain made two critical errors--aside from, sadly, being old and Republican which carried the stereotype of "old" and, well, "Republican."
First, he wanted Joe Liebermann. This worked from a policy standpoint, but not politically. Two old men. "Get off my lawn!" it would appear. "Mutt and Jeff" "The Odd Couple" However, what sank Joe was he was a Democrat and *cough* *cough* Jewish. McCain is NOT a PsychoCon, and his nomination was shutting the door on their perceived influence. McCain was not interested in making abortion, gays, and probably Methodists illegal!
The base balked. In a close election, you need your base.
So he chose Palin. Now Palin was a great choice . . . until she proved a bad choice. Despite criticisms and satire, Sarah is not stupid--but she is a fool. She was lazy in that she felt she could go into hostile interviews unprepared. Fatality. Dead. Looking halting and clueless is worse than actually being both. Pretty soon, the people who seemed to be supporting her were? Any guesses? Anyone? You got it! Religious conservatives who touted her religious credentials such as belonging to a congregation that thinks science is a matter of opinion--with some members thinking the world is only 10,000 years old! They--particularly the mouth-pieces of Hannity-Coulter-and Rush--saw her as the "bastion" against the "secular-progressive" [Non-Fundamentalist Christian.--Ed.] who were threatening to wrest them from influence--not power--influence. She became the avatar for them for all of their causes. This was great . . . save they PsychoCons are a minority and the electorate has become sick of them!
Fine. But Americans really do not vote for VP--see Dan Quayle, Mondale, Biden. Biden who was so stupid he plagiarized Neil Kinnock! He might have survived--he was tying the polls even WITH Sarah wondering if Creationist Daily is a "respected newspaper!"
Second, the economy tanked. Game-Set-Match.
Now, Republicans will tell you it was the fault of the Democrat Congress and the likes of Barney Frank who force banks to make bad loans and force Bush--who warned about to Fannie Mae to . . . to . . . to . . . ZZZZZzzZZZzz.
An no one cares. When the economy is good, the party in power gets credit. When it is bad, it gets blamed. Justice? There is no justice! Frankly, they do not have that much control--what President wakes up and thinks "hey, I'm going to wreck the economy!" Okay, maybe Carter did, but most do not.
That made Obama inevitable. With inevitability comes the desire to hope. What I mean by that is because you know he is going to win, you hope he is not going to screw it up. That somehow he has a plan more than slogans.
However the alternative was the same thing: McCain really screwed up by suspending his campaign--in deference to the economy. He looked like an idiot running around in circles in Washington.
Long Rant Over [He is lying. He is not done until he starts making references to the 2004 Red Sox.--Ed.]
So . . . a lot of people are projecting "hope" on Obama, because they have no alternative.
Also it means foreigners don;t hate the US quite so much perhaps, my american friends who live over here in Europe have commented on that a lot since the election.
Frankly, I do not care what Europeans think. This oddly enough does not piss off all of my European friends since they still harbor resentment over the hypocrisy of allowing genocide in their own continent for years, supporting homicidal dictators, yet pointing the finger at everyone else--and, really, have the Belgians apologized enough for being Belgian?
The problem was that foreign policy is often a bar. We are in a bar. A 250 lb--that is . . . is . . . a lot of stone for you lot--football/Rugby player walks in and every man tries to imagine how they can beat him in a fight. Pure pride. Utterly ridiculous. Juvenile.
Countries like France know they could not "win" a war with the United States. Fine. No one really wants such a war anyways . . . okay, I will admit to the attractiveness of invading France if only to end Euro-Disney and . . . well . . . Parisians. Bush basically said what a lot of Americans--and even Europeans think: "we will ultimately do what we consider is in our best interests."
Clinton did the same thing--just a hell of a lot more ineffectually.
I was in Europe during the invasion of Iraq and there was a constant hope for the "quagmire" that never came--literally the halting of forces by the Iraqis.
Now, it is to Bush's detriment he could not sell his foreign policy better. However, let us face it--not finding the WMDs looked stupid. When I get into arguments with "Twoofers"--they and Young Earth Creationists seem to literally live in the same neighborhood!--the ones who believe Bush--who is too stupid to tie his shoes--orchestrated a massive conspiracy theory in 9/11 involving now Testa Pulse weapons!--I remind them that this same Bush willing to slaughter thousands in New York who were not all Yankees fans, then did not bother to BURY a few WMDs in an Iraqi desert!
So if you are European, you rather DO have to wonder if that guy in the bar is not crazy do you not? Maybe he will start a fight that will involve your table!
So, frankly, the hope for Europeans and others is that Obama is more "mellow," more controllable.
After the election result even the Republicans I saw on TV seemed genuinely moved by the sea change in US society that Obama seems to represent for now.
There is a racial aspect, but in a good way. This is a country that, in the life time of many, still made it illegal to be black. Whatever one thinks of racial relations now, less-than-fifty years ago, you could not sit in the front of the bus, go to that restaurant and, obviously, worse.
Which brings us to the Boston Red Sox [See?--Ed.]. There was no "curse" for the RS--for decades they had a racist ownership that persisted almost into this century.
A lot of baggage.
So, for better or worse, the election of a black President is simply a turning of the page. It would have been and will be if a woman is elected. There was always the assumption that, no matter what anyone promised, as a black person, you were still second class in America--you cannot become President. It may be "a symbol," it may be "all emotional," but it is important for a nation that literally nearly destroyed itself fighting on whether or not a portion of it should remain slaves--with the "no side" not really wanting that portion to live near them either. I cannot overemphasize the symbolic power of "the first Black President" in a nation that had blacks codified in law as second-class in most people's memory.
(but I would certainly be a democrat if I was American, so that's probably a pinko liberal point of view).
It might be, but to be frank if McCain was President and--here, you need to take a hit off this bong I got from Michael Phelps to follow this idea--if the Republicans took the House and Senate . . . no seriously . . . do you have any thing to eat?--they would be running around in circles as the Democrats are. They would be throwing money at THEIR pet projects, THEIR social agenda. It is all politics.
I've heard a lot of Brits saying they wish they had an Obama as a leader too, though scarily enough I think Blair was our Obama, of a sort anyway. Young, dynamic, but no experience in power and in the end as much a media figure as a politician.
Absolutely. We on this side saw him as your answer to Clinton. Young, lots of slogans, did not really do a whole hell of a lot. The difference is Clinton rode a great economy and his term ended as it started to crest. Blair hung around a bit longer. Probably saw himself as a moderating force to "that Texan." I really think Blair [CENSORED--Ed.] Brown the way Clinton [CENSORED--Ed.] Gore--left him with a mess. In Gore's case thing were slowing down and people were getting sick of the Clintons. Brown will probably be a "one term Prime Minister" . . . unless the Tories do their usual!
But, yes, as we say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
. . .but the honeymoon wore off after 9/11 and our involvement in a bloody war began, taking with it many lives and more and more of our civil liberties.
That is an argument for another thread. I have rehashed the Middle East so many times I look forward to a PC versus Mac debate. Heck, I would prefer to engage a Scientologist and ask him "what about those clams?" However, the "civil liberties" is intriguing since many wrang their hands HERE . . . only to not be able to point to any real lost liberties . . . but on YOUR END? I think, frankly, you guys were going in that direction BEFORE 9/11. But that is another topic.
Politics seems to be an extension of PR so much these days, it depresses us and drives the political apathy we all talk about over here in Blighty.
A friend and I came up with the idea of the 'Beliefs' party - the only litmus test for inclusion is that you have to have strongly held views and beliefs but have to be prepared to enter into genuine discussion about them, and listen to people who disagree with you.
That was a lot to get through! However, interesting all the same.
I don't care either what Europeans (of which I am one) think about the US. Neither do I care what US citizens think of Europeans. All I care is that people of both continents recognize the trough of sleaze which we all swim in together.
Not that every American and European citizen create sleaze, but I think we all too often turn a blind eye to it and make tut tut noises when we read about it.
Obama beleives in fighting corruption and greed and I wish him well. The real litmus test is whether he can get the right people on board his battleship to sort out Dubya's mess and bring some stability to the world.
Bush did not create a mess--the economy is largely independent of presidents--nor did he bring "instability"--if anything things are more stable from a "will this country invade that other country" standpoint. Similarly, I doubt Obama can make the world more or less unstable depending on circumstances. If he appeases the likes of Iran and North Korea that will decrease stability. If he guts the military like Clinton did, that will decrease stability.
Bush and his cronies made one almighty mess of Iraq. I personally think invasion was inevitable (albeit it happened before all final options were exhausted), but there was no plan for Day Two. The arrogance and incompetence shown by Bush's war cabinet beggared belief.
The US needs a well-armed defence force. However, along with the loony gun lobby, it seems the military gets away with too much.
I don't take a reductionist view of Bush. He had his successes. He also had his failures. The question is whether his successes outweighed his failures or his failures outweighed his successes. I lean towards the latter.
you need to imagine the Democrats since they advocated the same failed strategy in a different direction. One significant part of this "war cabinet" eventually argued for the correct strategy. However, sometimes he correct strategy takes time to be recognized.
You do not know anything about the American military then: it is not all about "guns." It is about training, it is about compensation to retain competent members, it is about functional equipment and numbers, et cetera.
It depends upon where you look and what you judge to be important and when.
If you judge anti-terrorism then he had a resounding success--such that his critics have to run about a bit trying to explain it away. The Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee became very quiet for a good reason when their counterparts tried to conjure up "failed policies."
If you judge domestic spending, then you have to wonder why he could not control members of his own party whether they were in charge or not.
If you judge foreign policy it depends on whether or not you care what the Great Unwashed of any country "thinks" about the United States--you indicated you do not. In that case, he succeeds--the US does what it says it does and is willing to go to war to enforce international law--ironic is it not? No one has invaded anyone else despite threats to do so . . . at least no one cool.
However, if you judge the ability to convince foreign government that the US knows what it is talking about when it states "intelligence shows"--even sympathetic governments--then you have to judge "FAIL"--the consequences of making a mistake everyone made but being the one responsible for it.
If you judge the support of education then he is a success . . . unless you prefer education to also include a decent foundation in the sciences rather than what the Great Unwashed in a particular constituency think should be taught.
Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera ad nauseum.
It is rarely cut and dried.
Clinton was a success in areas his supporters deem him a failure: welfare reform and ending the Yugoslavian genocides. He was a failure in what his supporters considered a success: foreign policy. He may have been "liked" . . . by the North Koreans and Iranians, and even he has nightmares about Rwanda--though what he could have materially done other than tell the UN to let its commanders do their jobs is anyone's guess.
Obama is being deemed a failure by some of his supporters because he is taking a more realistic view of his more unreasonable campaign promises whereas opponents are breathing a few sighs of relief. Bush's religious conservative supporters found him a failure for not pushing their agenda enough, ironically.
Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.
The point is it rarely becomes a singular event, decision, that defines a President unless it is overwhelmingly obvious--Lincoln won the most important war the US ever fought--including the Revolutionary War. It covers up for a lot of other things. Nixon did some great things in foreign policy, particularly having the conviction to end the Vietnam War--a Democrat created war, incidentally--supported by Republicans in a way.
How many people remember that? Criminal abuse of power, obstruction of justice, et cetera tends to focus attention, particularly when it cripples a branch of government.
Presidents do get judged for sins of omission as well, even if it is merely appearances. Bush should have recognized that the Governor of Louisiana and the Mayor of New Orleans lacked clues and stepped in--or made sure his underlings took that charge. Whether it would have matters is irrelevant to appearances: Reagan and Clinton would not have made that mistake. Bush will be blamed for the economic down-turn because he did not warn enough about he various root problems--such as Fannie Mae and all of that. He mumbled something about it 2003 I believe. Does not matter: he did not warn. Whether he could of known is a different subject: it was his job to know. Quite a few Presidents are damned for the failure to act--many of them during the 1800s! It may be all "appearances" but appearances in some cases matter.
DoctorX: That's a _lot_ of hogwash. How was Bush's antiterrorism a success? He didn't bring terrorist attacks from 1'000 attacks a year to zero. He took them from 0.001% to zero - and we don't know whether any of the measures taken after 9/11 actually helped. What we _do_ know is that warnings before 9/11 were ignored and that the reaction(s) to it was a tad strange or, let's say it: Wrong.
I don't wanna play down 9/11. It was a terrible thing to happen. But it was a crime of an organisation called Al Quaida, not an act of war by Afghanistan or Iraq.