Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

Finally it has happened; what Hillary Clinton never wanted to happen. The fighter has accepted defeat and thrown her weight behind the winner. It must have been quite a hard task for her. That’s evident from the time she took to make the concession speech. Now, all eyes are on Obama: will he pick her as his running mate? (Report: BBC)

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Mr Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and Ms Hillary Clinton, the Vice-President… — imagine that scenario on January 20, 2009 — that will be an amazing combination…. But more about that a bit later in this post.

First, I don’t think any time in the recent past a US presidential primary has generated so much interest. Whoever becomes the President s/he will create a record as the first Black, woman or the oldest President.

The Democratic primary now very much resembles the final stages of a cricket match (the sport that arouses as much passion and interest in India as baseball and basketball does in the US).

Who is good for India?
It’s generally felt that Republican policies are favourable to India. Last time it was John Kerry who spoke out against outsourcing jobs to India. Even this time, both Hillary and Obama have tried to win over middle class Americans by raking up outsourcing. I am not quite concerned, because, in such issues, my gut feeling is irrespective of Republican or Democratic views, it’ll be what the American businessmen want that will prevail rather than what the ordinary American would want.

Personally, among the candidates, I’d rank my choice thus: Hillary, Obama and McCain. I have read a lot about the Clintons — Bill and Hillary — more than about Obama; and may be because of that I am favouring her. But Obama is as much impressive — I’ve completely fallen for his oratorical style; a great communicator he is. His speeches are definitely worth listening to.

Hillary’s attractiveness is the amazing experience she has behind her; and the family exudes an exceptionally remarkable charm. It’s pretty certain that Obama has made it, but Hillary has surely let it be known that she is, nevertheless, a tough fighter the Americans can rely on. I haven’t been able to relate to McCain at all, though I guess he too has a great record mainly for fighting in Vietnam.

Hillary: from First Lady to Vice-President?
Now all the focus will be on who will be Obama’s running mate. I think it should be Hillary. The double-engined Democratic bandwagon will have more than adequate muscle to see through the race. But for that first Obama and Hillary will close ranks as fast as possible.

Unlike the Republican campaign, Democratic race has seen debates on the lines of Black and White; Man and Woman. There is a lot of scratching of the head happening to determine why Hillary, in spite of being a woman and with loads of experience, didn’t come through clean. Or, did those very attributes go against her?

Similar questions are being asked about Obama as well. In spite of being Black and inexperienced how did he steal a march over Hillary? Some are talking of the how the number of delegates is hardly an indicator of one’s actual popularity. Of course, it’sn’t that the American electoral system is anywhere near perfect.

My take is this: Obama is ahead simply because he has been been able to connect to the masses much better. His communication skills have undoubtedly helped him; enormously. Ronald Reagan is another politician who worked his communication skills to great advantage — arguably it played a big role in the beginning the end of the Communist empire by engaging Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. And, Obama is miles ahead of McCain as far as connecting to people is concerned, if video clippings of their campaigns are any indication.

Imagine this in January 20, 2009 — Mr Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and Ms Hillary Clinton, the Vice-President… that will be an amazing combination.

She shouldn’t worry that she wouldn’t be in the limelight, that she would have just a back-up role. Coming to think of it, actually it wouldn’t be a role totally unfamiliar to her, for that’s what she had been doing for eight long years when hubby Bill was in the White House. So it’s perfectly possible for Obama and Hillary to have a perfect understanding regarding the roles they have to play. During this term, Vice-President Dick Cheney has played a no insignificant role in the post-9/11 engagement of his country with the rest of the world, mainly in Iraq.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the same as she being in the White House itself. But so what? There was a time when things had hotted up so much in Bill’s Oval Office, it didn’t really matter if she was in the White House or not. She carried on her own administration of the United States as its First Lady. She is quite used to this sort backseat driving, with help of the actual driver or not, I guess.

But if Hillary is indeed chosen as Obama’s running mate and goes on to become the vice-president, a possible problem will be Bill. Remember how he had almost wrecked Hillary’s campaign recently? So what will Bill’s role be? I am sure both Obama and Hillary will factor that in their plans.

Imagine, another driver, behind the back-seat driver, driving both Hillary and Obama! Bill is quite capable of that!

Photo captions and credits:

  • Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks to the media in Brandon, South Dakota Friday, May 23, 2008 as she apologizes for an earlier statement to the Argus Leader’s editorial board in Sioux Falls, S.D. citing the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in defending her decision to keep running for the Democratic presidential nomination despite increasingly long odds.(AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Source
  • U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at a rally in Sunrise, Florida, May 23, 2008. Reuters/Joe Skipper (United States) US presidential election campaign 2008 USA. Source

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No end to violence on American colleges — yesterday’s incident at the North Illinois University in which five students were gunned down in a classroom was the fouth in a month.

Since American universities have lots of foreign students on their campuses, security of students is not just an American issue, it is also a global one. The North Illinois University, for example, has 862 international students from 88 countries. NIU has an Indian link — it has a tieup with Karnataka’s Manipal University.

So what has Barack Obama, a senator from Illinois, got to say on this?

“Today we offer them our thoughts and prayers, but we also have to offer them our determination to do whatever it takes to eradicate this violence from our streets, from our schools, from our neighborhoods and our cities,” Obama said. “That is our duty as Americans,” he tells a news conference.

But he nullifies all the determination with this:

“I think there is an individual right to bear arms, but it’s subject to commonsense regulation.”

Why doesn’t America completely ban ownership of guns, except by people who need it as part of their work?Why should people carry guns for their protection when there is a well-armed security force? Of all people, why should students be legally allowed to possess guns?

None of the candidates — Hillary, Obama or McCain — has a clear cut policy on gun control.

America is supposedly leading a war against terroism. Aren’t students living in a state of terror on US campuses, not knowing who will spray bullets on whom? When innocent lives are lost, aren’t the classical terrorist and the student with a gun in the same league?

Election year may not be a good time to hammer out bipartisan agreements. But an effort on the part of the two parties and their leading candidates to hammer one out against possessing firearms will signal to the Americans and to the world at large that the American establishment doesn’t have two standards when it comes to gun culture.

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Obama is behind, but not so far as to throw in the towel; the Democratic nomination race will continue. We have seen an ‘Obama surge’, and that has helped him get close to Clinton. Will he overtake her? A fantastic, invigorating speech here. He is a great orator. The rendition, well punctuated with pauses, is arresting. It’s a long speech but worth listening to.

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Clinton is ahead of Obama, but not well enough to clinch the Democratic nomination. A good speech here, but she doesn’t seem to connect with the audience as effectively as Obama.

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Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spar during the South Carolina debate on Jan 21.

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The Super Tuesday is just a few days away — on Feb 5, when most of America will vote for the party nominees. (Youtube channel: You Choose ’08.) As the crucial primaries get closer, here below are two video clippings from the Democractic debates. These two show the contrasting moods of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

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Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton shared a debate stage alone for the first time on Thursday, Jan 31, striking a cordial tone. They even fielded questions on who will be the vice-presidential candidate. Does this reflect the overwhelming confidence that the Republicans will be routed for sure, and that Hillary and Obama are reconciled to one of them being the President?

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This is a great speech, worth listening to. Obviously Obama and his supporters are all fired up. Because he has got a huge morale boost ahead of the February 5 Super Tuesday, when most probably the lineup for Nov 8 should be clear.

In South Carolina, it must be remembered, the African-American voters make up make up almost half the electorate, and majority of them support him rather than Hillary.

Reports say S Carolina voting was polarised along colour, gender and age. It’s funny that in the world’s greatest nation people can’t look beyond these physical attributes. Probably it’s because there’sn’t anything else to choose, with both Obama and Hillary speaking pretty much the same thing.

Obama is, I guess, aware of this, and tries his best to dispel it, when he says in his speech, “So understand this, South Carolina. The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor, young versus old. And it is not about black versus white. This election is about the past versus the future. It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today or whether we reach for a politics of common sense and innovation, a politics of shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.”

Any way, the contest is in no way over.

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Just a few hours back, I was ready to hear not just Hillary Clinton conceding New Hampshire, but even pulling out of the race in favour of Barack Obama. Over the past few days, she was looking so downcast, the feeling of resignation written all over her face. O, what an upset! It’s good there is a contest out there, there’s some excitement remaining. Even on the Republican side, thanks to John McCain. But where is Giuliani, who was supposed to be leading in the national polls? O, right, in NH, pollsters couldn’t get even Hillary right, could they?

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