And A Hearty British Welcome To President, Er, Senator Obama…

I feel cheated by Barack Obama.

Two days ago the Senator for Illinois visited Berlin and appeared before 200,000 rapturous Germans to give a thoroughly Presidential speech which, as I’m sure he intended, strongly echoed John F Kennedy’s iconic “Ich bin ein Berliner” declaration of 1963. True, Obama didn’t say much that was memorable, but then again he didn’t need to. One camera sweep taking in his smooth, calm, confident pose and those thousands of adoring faces said it all. This man needs to be the next President of the United States. The Germans have already decided he is.

Then, after a brief stop-off in Paris (during which President Sarkozy made a wonderfully sly, tongue-in-cheek nod towards America’s famous opinion of his countrymen as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys”… Sarkozy, we love you too), Senator Obama arrived in London this morning to have breakfast with Tony Blair, a meeting with Gordon Brown at Downing Street and lunch with David Cameron at the Houses of Parliament.

And then he flew home.

What, no rally in Trafalgar Square? No public speeches? No chance for us British Obama fans to gather in our thousands and cheer and grin and register our support for him like the people of Berlin?

Cheated! We were cheated!

Okay, so I’m not really annoyed, and I understand his reasons for putting on a big show in Germany and not here in the UK, where we’re already regarded as fans of the USA. I’m just miffed because I want to see the guy in the flesh: the man who should be the next President of the United States, the man who needs all the support he can get because such a large proportion of American voters are looking at McCain and thinking, “He’ll do,” when they should have learned ten times over by now that they shouldn’t settle for someone who’ll do, they should fight for someone who will.

A lot of people look at McCain and see a white man. They look at Obama and see a black man. When I look at them, I see a man who is 71 next to a man who is 46. The average life expectancy for an American male is 77. Stress is one of the biggest killers in the world, and there is no job in the world more stressful than sitting in the big chair behind that big desk at the White House. Which means that a vote for McCain is, potentially, a vote for whoever he chooses as his Vice President. We don’t even know yet who that will be. Hardly reassuring, is it?

And just look at this man:

Okay, so he’s with the Dalai Lama – that’s good publicity. But who the hell is holding up who, though? They look like two pensioners out for a stroll on the seafront at Eastbourne!

Compare it to this:

Now that’s strength – it’s radiating off him. The body language, the poise, the assurance. He’s a young, powerful, intelligent man in the prime of life. I have a lot of respect for McCain’s experience, but none at all for his future. In Barack Obama, I see a man who’ll grow to become one of the greatest world leaders of all time – if the American voters let him.

If they do, I’ll be first in line to hear him talk in Trafalgar Square.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “And A Hearty British Welcome To President, Er, Senator Obama…

  1. Lerxst

    Right, so your reason for voting for someone is because they’re younger? Leave aside experience, suitability for the job, his policies (where he has any), or the fact that he’s Jimmy Carter MkII…. he’ll do because he’s younger…. Actually I’m going to stop.. take a deep breath and stop.. because I like you and I can feel a rant coming on.

    I’m not even that much of a McCain fan anyway… he’s just the better end of a shitty choice. Hell, all politicians are vermin anyway.

  2. Lerxst

    PS.. though I will point out that our greatest peacetime Prime Minister was 82 when elected for his fourth and final term. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. jaynenelson

    The reasons to vote for Obama over McCain are a hundredfold, but the age issue is, I feel, one of the biggest. Taking away the fact that McCain is a Republican who wants to keep troops in Iraq and Obama is a Democrat who doesn’t (that’s enough to swing my vote, for starters), I’ve known enough 71 year olds in my time to know that the punishing schedule of a world leader would knock them dead. It’s a hellish job – one you have to be half-insane to want to do in the first place, like all politicians – and when you add age into the equation it becomes downright dangerous.

    What’s to prevent McCain becoming an advisor to a younger Presidential candidate? Then the US would get the best of him!

    It’s a moot point regardless; I’m sure that McCain will win anyway.

  4. Senator Obama is a very strong candidate. I believe you will see him in London someday. It probably wasn’t logistically possible – and perhaps there were politics involved, as well.

  5. Ruud V

    I on’t mind Obama, but I didn’t mind Hillary either, so what do I know. Basically I take any US political candiddate with a large amount of sailt. Too many immagemakers, speechwriters, mediaadvisers, posturetrainers and all that. I don’t beleive any (US) politician is really the way we are meant to think he (or she) is.
    But I am cynical in that respect.
    I also have this automatic effect that I immediatly become suspicious if saint Ophra is endorcing someone or something….

    I do hope though there will be a democrat in office next term.

    May I suggest Richard Coyle…..?
    Oh. Never mind then….

  6. Lerxst

    Oh, getting troops out of Iraq is probably the one thing I agree with Obama on, but it wouldn’t be enough for me to vote for him. Anyway, I find the old adage about religion & politics is true (possibly not helped by my own views being firmly in the anti-statist libertarian camp) so I’ll let the argument lie – it’s pub discussion stuff anyway.

    What I will say is that I wouldn’t be so sure about McCain winning – the last few polls I’ve seen have had Obama ahead, though admittedly there’s a looooong way to go.

    More to the point, Jayne, if it gives you more optimism, there’s an oft-quoted stat about the taller candidate winning. George W trumped it somehow, but something like 70% of presidential elections have been won by the taller candidate – yep, the Americans are usually even more shallow in how they vote than just picking the young ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Actually, the reason there was no big Berlin-style public rally was protocol. When McCain visited the UK earlier this year, it was a low-key meeting at number 10, with a quick photocall. If the UK afforded Obama different treatment, it would be a breach of diplomatic protocol and given how the Civil Service works, that was never an option.

    Ultimately, it’s a case of us saying “it’s not up to us to publicly endorse, one way or the other, one of the nominees”. It might not be what good liberal people want to see, but it’s only fair.

  8. Lerxst

    โ€œitโ€™s not up to us to publicly endorse, one way or the other, one of the nomineesโ€

    Because the other one might win, and then we’d have to deal with them, having publicly supported their opponent. So not just fair, but sensible.

    PS I note your using ‘liberal’ in the American sense ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. jaynenelson

    I think I discovered something interesting with this particular post: people really like to talk politics!

    And that thought encourages me immensely. Carry on! ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Thankfully, people also like to talk about movies, TV, comics and books, or I’d have hardly anything else to say on this blog…)

  10. jaynenelson

    PS I really hate it when a smiley face appears when you’ve simply used a bracket or something. Grrr.

  11. Lerxst

    Not necessarily that surprising Jayne, given your likely readership – after all, a lot of the best sci-fi/fantasy has a political undercurrent.

    In my case, the political interest is part of who I am. Sad though it may be, alongside the sci-fi I devoured politics & economics books as a teenager, then studied both subjects at university, and I’ve now spent almost 15 years working with our dear overlords (for whom it is sad to say the point – whatever shade of party – is almost entirely about being in power, not what they do with it).

    Politics though can be unnecessarily divisive so I try.. try… to keep my letting-off of my political steam/impotent rage to the specifically political blogs like Guido Fawkes and The Devil’s Kitchen.

    Anyway, getting back to a political/fantasy movie crossover reference, this sounds like fun:

    http://devilskitchen.me.uk/2008/07/going-for-little-walk.html

  12. jaynenelson

    Hmmm… that’s an interesting event! I may just wander along!

  13. Lerxst

    http://timesonline.typepad.com/comment/2008/07/and-it-came-to.html

    Couldn’t resist. Whatever your view of BO, it’s a nice piece of satire… had me laughing out loud at ‘Gordon the Leper’…

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