First hundred days
Americans have no regrets for electing Obama
After his first 100 days in office Barack Obama is already proving himself to be a force for change in America. And most Americans have no regrets for having voted him into office last November. In light of how things have turned out so far, our Scribbler wanted to repeat the column below, which first appeared on this page in January, 2008.
There’s a huge political rumble across the United States; there’s something quite interesting stirring in the air and it’s not a hurricane or tornado.
Why am I writing about U.S. politics and in particular the run for the White House? I’m keenly interested for two reasons. A, because I am in Florida and caught up in the hoopla and B, because I and every other Canadian should be interested and concerned about who will be the next president of the United States.
I have my eye on the youthful Democrat presidential hopeful (phenomenon) named Senator Barack Obama. The 46-year-old African-American from Chicago reminds me of a young stylish orator by the name of John F. Kennedy.
Obama is, to me, the most exciting and most provocative presidential candidate I have seen since President Kennedy and his brother Bobby. Millions of Americans are saying the same as this young senator from Chicago stamps his indelible mark on the 2008 U.S. presidential race.
Here in Florida voters are buzzing with chatter about him, over coffee, at the supermarket, on the golf greens and all over Florida newspapers and on the
airways. He has already provided a rumble so big it is echoing from California to Maine and no doubt across the Canadian border.
In the 1970s Pierre Elliott Trudeau used his flower power appeal to promote unity with: One vote one nation; then, who can forget: Fuddle-duddle; and when he was facing the FLQ crisis, he is forever recognized for spewing forth angrily: Just watch me (when questioned by members of the national media on how far he would go in fighting the FLQ (Front de liberation du Quebec). Trudeau was brilliant and like Sen. Barack Obama, different.
In Newfoundland (1971) Frank D. Moores began his historic campaign to defeat Joey Smallwood and the Liberal Party stranglehold-regime with slogans like: The time has come, and: It won’t be long now.
A. Brian Peckford later uttered the words: Some day the sun will shine and have not will be no more, to describe what oil would do for the province.
They worked well for both Moores and Peckford. And, how can anyone forget Joey’s: The (Liberal) tide has gone out, used after his incredible defeat?
Back to the United States, who can forget President John F. Kennedy’s poignant call: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
Obama is inspiring voters in America with his campaign slogan: Time for change — yes we can! No doubt he’s referring to his replacing Republican President George W. Bush who, it is commonly agreed, has led the U.S. into a war that should never have been fought and the U.S. economy into a looming recession.
Obama’s goal is to lead his Democratic Party back into power in Washington and with the first African-American at the helm. He wants to finally rid the country of the Clinton-Bush era.
If ever free countries of the world needed presidents who are strong — it is now. Since the tragedy of 9-11 the world situation is volatile like never before. The sabre rattling from Iran to possibly use nuclear weapons against the west is just one example of the powder keg we in North America are sitting on.
The recent assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the onetime real president of Pakistan, is another sign of just how powerful the enemies of freedom are.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are continuing with Canadian and U.S. military casualties reported almost weekly adding to the thousands already. Young men and women are fighting a war that most experts agree will never be won.
Elsewhere in the Middle East Israelis and the Palestinians are still engaged in their perpetual territorial war. President Bush is once again attempting to mediate a peace settlement.
Meanwhile Iranian boats, on Jan. 7, harassed and provoked three U.S. Navy ships in the Strait of Hormuz (while the U.S. ships were legally operating in international waters). According to reports, the Iranians said they would blow the ships up in minutes if the U.S. Navy didn’t get out of the area. Fortunately it never happened but the damage in U.S./Iranian relations has been dramatically heightened.
The U.S. is slowly slipping into second place as a world power. China is rapidly becoming the most powerful and most progressive nation on earth.
Was it Winston Churchill that warned: Beware when the yellow dragon awakes...?
Obama is very aware that the yellow dragon has been awakened.
It is that kind of political volatility worldwide that Obama is preparing to enter. He realizes the serious and dangerous situation his country still faces and how the entire free world’s democratic nations are at risk of being drawn into a Third World War.
But the young Harvard Law School graduate feels he is ready. “I’m ready for real change,” he shouts often these days.“We can do it...we can do it,” is his refrain.
Members of his party and voters everywhere are lapping it up. “We have to take back our country,” he insists,“and there is only one way to do that — by electing me as your president,” he adds with conviction.“It’s about peace not war,” he preaches.
Illinois Senator Barack Obama is an inspiring presidential candidate for a nation discouraged by the partisan war in Washington.
Obama makes a large number of Americans — young and old, black and white — believe their country can accomplish anything it sets its mind to. He talks open- ly about replacing the politics of cynicism with the politics of hope.
He was the first African-American editor of the Harvard Law Review. He grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia and is the son of a black father and a white mother.
He eventually settled down and practised law in Chicago where he was elected to the Illinois Senate. In January 2005 he became the Illinois State Senator and it was in Washington that he spoke out against the invasion of Iraq. However, since he arrived in Washington he has rightly supported funding for U.S. troops.
The young Washington senator has changed some of his liberal positions, moves he has been criticized for, but people inebriated by his promise of “hope” for real change are not concerned with such trivialities.
The Washington Post recently stated that people are attracted to him like iron filings to a magnet. They don’t ask where is the beef they say,“here is the real beef.”
I enjoy listening to Obama in public rallies and in TV’s one-onone debates. It is widely considered that Obama is one of the most uplifting orators of his generation and he isn’t afraid to tell an audience (either Republicans, Democrats or Independents) what he thinks they need to hear in order to effect real change.
He says it’s important for people to raise differences and disagree without being disagreeable (world powers included).
As an African-American he avoids, as much as possible, the politics of race. He was forced to enter a heated debate recently with the Clinton’s (Hilary and Bill) over negative comments they allegedly made about Dr. Martin Luther King and a fantasy in O’Bama’s mind. Hilary Clinton went on national television and apologized for what she said was a big misunderstanding. Bill Clinton did the same on public radio, blaming it on the media, who are anxious to blow things up, he said.
Obama followers say the young senator doesn’t suffer fools. He did forgive the Clintons and they declared a truce.
Are we watching history in the making? I think so.
The day (and it just might happen) an African-American stands on the steps of the U.S. Capitol — built with the labour of slaves — and takes that oath of office so important to the free world (Canada very much included) will be a moment of blinding, hopeful brightness.
In my view Barack Obama can do it both in terms of raw political talent, credibility and mass appeal. I think Obama has it over the other competing Democrats (Clinton and Edwards) and for that matter leading Republicans currently in the race to the White House (McCain, Giuliani, Huckabee and Romney).
On Nov. 4, 2008 the whole world will know. My bet is on the young bright hope named Obama. Watch him blossom.
Newfoundlanders and all Canadians should tune in. It is a very important time in our history as we ride along with our American neighbours as they continue through troubled waters at home and abroad, hopefully with a new president with insight and real leadership qualities.
Gold bless America!
Bill Westcott writes from his winter retreat in Florida.