Obama From Britain
After Bush, to my knowledge, the worst US President ever, I was excited about the prospect of Hilary Clinton in the White House. The election of Barack Obama was simply stunning. For me, it rejuvenated the whole idea of America – the noble principles of the Constitution, the idea that anyone can rise to the very top based on merit alone. It updated that dream by transcending race, prejudice and history.
As it happened, I watched his inauguration with my parents. I wept at Obama’s words, at the huge symbolism of his achievement, at Jesse Jackson’s overwhelming moment. My Mum & Dad said that it was like Kennedy was for their generation – the sense of new hope and optimism. The same idea that makes me think of Churchill’s “broad sunlit uplands”.
So what’s going on now? I ‘m sure I don’t understand a lot about American politics. I can only see it from my perspective. That means I get most of my news from the BBC. I balance that with a daily trawl through the blogs and online newspapers on the issues that interest me.
In some ways I think the BBC is more British than Britain. In fact, I trust the BBC more than I trust any politician. Its standards and independence preserve our national integrity better than any political leader.
Going online gives me a broader view, often composed of ridiculous extremes as well as mainstream media. There are so many highly literate, super clever bloggers who are completely deluded and beyond any reason. Going online provides an overall summary of all different points of view and sources of information.
I think Obama is a fundamentally decent man. There is a coterie of bloggers who believe he is a Chicago politician just the same as when Al Capone was in town. I think he is bigger than that.
There is also a sisterhood (men and women) of Democrats, bitter supporters of Hilary, who are determined to undermine him. Republicans say he is un-American and claim that he won the election through fraud.
I still have faith in the man. In the horribly murky world of American politics I don’t think he would have risen to the top unless he was very special. I detect authenticity.
The oil spill has been his greatest challenge. I feel that when he speaks for himself, from his heart, he speaks the truth. When he is confused and manipulated by those around him he fails. Many will say I am naive but how can anyone triumph without support? We need leaders who can inspire, who can make us believe in them.
From the very beginning Obama has “extended the hand of friendship” towards Iran but it becomes clearer every day now that the current regime must be condemned without reservation. He has stood up against Israel better than his predecessors and in the overall moral balance that was well overdue. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the attempted kidnapping of Gary Mckinnon It’s probably not high enough in his priorities to have had his proper consideration yet.
No one was more critical of Gordon Brown and his foolhardy, self-serving government than me but the way that some Americans criticise their leader horrifies me. Some of the conspiracy theories and charges levelled against Obama are worse than those against Hitler or Mengele. There are are so many complete nutters in America I really do wonder what they put in the water.
After re-consideration, from my British perspective, I still have faith in this extraordinary man. I urge him to continue to have the courage of his convictions. I wish he could put aside short term political considerations. I think, almost whatever happens, he will win a second term so he can afford to look at least six years in advance and ignore his critics. I still believe in him.