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Hello Everybody. We have two news items over here today. One is “The Arrest” and the second is unsurprisingly “The Candidate”. Radovan Karadzic‘s arrest has caused quite a stir in Europe, he was on the run for nigh on 13 years after all. He is one of the great war criminals of the end of the 20th century and will now, I hope, get his trial and his just sentence.
The other topic is, of course, Barack Obama who will soon be visiting Europe and is eagerly anticipated by those politicians who count on a little bit of popularity rubbing off on them, because they need it. But alas, neither Sarkozy, who is far from popular at home right now, nor Gordon Brown, who would shake hands with just about anybody if he had a chance to bask a little in the glow of his guest’s aura, will get the lion’s share of Obama’s attention. The highly respected and very popular German chancellor Angela Merkel and her foreign secretary Steinmeier, he himself very popular, too, are on Obama’s shortlist, never mind she resisted his plans to speak from the Brandenburg Gate. Brown and Sarkozy are far from pleased says Der Spiegel:
One-on-one meetings for Obama have now been confirmed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. But so far he is only including time in his stops in Paris and London for French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. A decision still hasn’t been made on whether the Democratic candidate will meet with the foreign ministers of those countries. (read more)
But then Germans are the ultimate Obamamaniacs, not the only ones, but securely in the candidate’s pocket. Some 70% would vote for him, if they were qualified for voting in the US presidential election.
Obama is the hope of a Western world filled with concerns. A recession looms as does high inflation sparked by exploding demand for commodities and natural resources. Furthermore, no one has yet come up with a convincing response to global warming. No one knows how to bring peace to the Middle East, Afghanistan or Iraq. And no one has a promising strategy for dealing with Islamist terrorism.(read more)
Barack Obama is very popular in Britain, too, of course. The Guardian is covering a lot of reporting and commenting on Obama’s behalf. Michael Tomasky, feels that Maliki’s support of Obama’s withdrawal plan is the single big story of this year’s Presidential campaign.
Boy would I have liked to have been tapping the phone lines between Washington and Baghdad on Saturday afternoon.
I would love to know exactly what people in the Bush White House were saying to one another, and more importantly what they were saying to Baghdad, after Der Spiegel published its now-famous interview with the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, in which he in essence endorsed Barack Obama’s withdrawal timetable. Bush officials acknowledged on Sunday that they did indeed call the Maliki government for, ah, clarification. I bet they did. (read more)
But, apart from Obama’s obvious political prowess, there is another truth. Almost everybody sees a different Barack Obama, according to one’s own beliefs. My personal view of Obama? He is a highly energetic, intelligent and competent person, who is more pragmatic than dogmatic and quite conservative in his personal beliefs and ethics. He is an excellent manager and able to think through complex issues to the end, so he comes across as far sighted, while he is only very thorough in his thought processes.
“This is not Barack Obama, she hasn’t understood a single thing he said, or hasn’t been listening properly.” Is that your reaction to my view of the candidate ? Ok, read this:
These contradictions are arguably true of all politicians, but they seem truer of Obama than most. He must be the only “radical Islamist” whose biggest scandal to date has arisen from membership of the Trinity United Church of Christ. Depending on what Kool-Aid you have been drinking, when it comes to Obama your glass is either half full, half empty or overflowing, or you’ve smashed it lest anybody else imbibes its poison.
This is a blessing and a curse for Barack Obama. It offers the screen where you can project all your hopes and expectations and see them displayed for you, which will help getting him elected. But, obviously, it carries the seed of disappointment. The Times enters this inevitable and in my opinion vitally important sobering up process into the larger context of Anti Americanism:
It amuses me that some of those who criticise the present US Administration for its Manichaeism – its division of the world into good and evil – themselves allocate all past badness to Bush and all prospective goodness to Obama. As the ever-improving myth has it, on the morning of September 12, 2001, George W. and America enjoyed the sympathy of the world. This comradeship was destroyed, in a uniquely cavalier (or should we say cowboyish) fashion, through the belligerence, the carelessness, the ideological fixity and the rapacity of that amorphous and useful category of American flawed thinker, the neoconservative. They just threw it away. (read more)
There were several instances, where I seriously doubted that the Democrats were planning on winning the coming elections at all. I called it “The Cliff Barnes Syndrome” of the Democrats in discussions with friends. But The Economist sees it differently:
For the base, the “enthusiasm gap” may genuinely be about the personal appeal of Barack Obama or specific qualms regarding John McCain. But among the writers and the think-tank wonks, there seems to be a widespread sense that the Republican Party, and perhaps the conservative movement more generally, is due for an overhaul. And many of the folks who’d like to do the overhauling seem to think that the shock therapy of a clear defeat, and the space for introspection and reinvention that a few years out of power would provide, are needed to make it happen.
This would explain, to me at least, why they are going on with John McCain, despite all his shortcomings. I am still afraid, however, that they may spring a different candidate on you at the convention where McCain will step back for health reasons. But that is neither here nor there and only my personal nightmare.
You all have a good, healthy and successful day!