Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Times They are a Changin'

I have said a number of times on this blog that Obama hasn't ever really clicked for me. I liked his oratory but felt it really wasn't as good as it was being made out to be - we are so starved for a politician who will inspire us, that in lieu of a RFK, JFK or Martin Luther King Jr, we'll take a close imitation. I thought his exhortation of "Yes we can!" was a bit weak; his new slogan of "Change We Need" however seems to be right for the times.

I have not studied Obama's policies in minute detail - though from listening to all the debates I'll say I like Obama's health plan and general tax plans a hell of a lot better than McCain's. But I'm not a US taxpayer, so that doesn't really affect me at all. What does affect me is how America is viewed throughout the world, and how America chooses to use its power.

And with Obama, I believe the US is going to be held in higher esteem throughout the world, and that is a very good thing. As Bill Clinton said at the Democratic National Convention (best speech of the whole campaign), "people the world over have always been more impressed by the power of [America's] example rather than by the example of [America's] power".

And with Obama, I feel more certain that the example of America will be something worth looking towards.

Now John McCain might have been able to be a fine President; but then he chose Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. There is no way, with her as Vice President, that the US could be viewed as an example to others. She would divide the country, and divide the world against America.

Don't believe me? Well she has already divided her own party - get this from a White House aide under the first George Bush:

"There's going to be a bloodbath. A lot of people are going to be excommunicated. David Brooks and David Frum and Peggy Noonan are dead people in the Republican Party. The litmus test will be: where did you stand on Palin?"

She hasn't even won the election and already it's you're either with us or against us...

Actually it's a good test - if you were for Palin you should be barred from holding any position of power; if you were against her, you get to retain your credibility.

Anyway, it doesn't really matter. Obama is home. Forget talk of "a narrowing"; on the Real Clear Politics average of all major polls, he leads by 50.5%-43.2%. And when broken down on a state by state level, he is looking good to win 375 of the 538 electoral college votes (he only needs 270). By contrast, Clinton got 379 in 1996, and 370 in 1992; and no one looks back on those thinking they were close.

And while I am happy about this; for the most part my joy has been based on the fact that McCain/Palin will lose, rather than Obama/Biden will win. But that may be changing some - especially if Obama continues to reach the heights that he reached in his speech he made today in Canton, Ohio.

Yes it is filled with a lot of nice phrases that don't really contain much detail; but he gets you excited. He makes you hope that he might be able to do great things. Near the end he almost gets to MLK level.

It is a pretty bloody good speech.

Now, perhaps our hopes may be dashed - but I'll take that any day over not having anything to dash in the first place.

My favourite Shakespeare quote is from Julius Caesar:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Obama is the flood; if the American voters choose to omit taking it, then it and those countries tied to it economically and in foreign policy will doubtless be bound in shallows and miseries.

He isn't the second coming, but America needs change, and if Obama can't deliver that, then no one can, or perhaps ever will.

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