"The world needs optimism and hope. With a fair wind, Mr Obama has a chance to provide it."
From today's Times. I hope so, all we've been hearing is what Barack Obama should and should not be doing and even some saying he should be doing far more...this is even before he starts! The list of what people expect of him grows longer....still, only two days to go.
Over the last year (maybe more) there has been ample comparison between Obama and Lincoln, not least because BHO in many of his speeches uses lines and ideas from the speeches of Abraham Lincoln, indeed the theme of Obama's Inauguration is taken from a line in Lincoln's Gettysburg Address: "A New Birth of Freedom." Also, when asked which book - aside from the Bible [Only in America...imagine that question in the UK?] - he would find essential in the Oval Office, Obama answered "Team of Rivals" [Newsweek] which is a book about the team Lincoln surrounded himself with: those with more and better experience than himself. Other comparisons have been the famous "House Divided" address:
A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
[Speech in full] This address Lincoln gave as he accepted the Republican Party's nomination (he didn't get it that time!) but the speech changed the general national view on slavery; "Sen. Barack Obama, another lanky lawyer from Illinois, planted one of those rhetorical markers in the political landscape Tuesday, when he delivered his "More Perfect Union" [Tim Rutten, LA Times]. Only yesterday, on his train journey to Washington (again emulating Lincoln) he used the phrase "better angels":
"What is required is a new declaration of independence, not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry — an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels." [in The Times]
"His cabinet looks like one of those Benetton advertisements from the 1990s" (this from the first Times link at the top of this post).
The Ox reference in the post title is to the Chinese New Year that begins next week: Year of the Ox, for those interested it is the earth Ox; as BHO is himself born in a Year of the Ox (1961) it means he should have a good year, a good omen is him being a metal Ox and this is an earth year: those people born in a metal year will generally fare better than others of their animal sign. The combination of earth and Ox is not a negative combination although -by complete coincidence - the last time there was a combination of the two was in the year January 1949 - February 1950, was in the middle of a world recession (since late 1948) "The world economy recovered during the year of the Ox due to rational decisions and careful planning." [Chiff]...well, could that history repeat itself? Some believe it possible: Irwin Stelzer - business adviser and director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute - says "Obama's stimulus could turn round economy this year", meaning of course the several hundred-billion dollar stimulus package (that's ELEVEN zeros before the decimal point!) and not the Obamessiah hysteria.
Back to Lincoln connection: BHO has already said that a number of things are to be done with almost immediate effect; one of those is to close Guantanamo Bay prison (also a new ME Peace deal, troops out of Iraq etc...you know, little odds and sods), worth noting that Lincoln, during the US Civil War, "appropriated powers no previous President had wielded: he used his war powers to proclaim a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, spent money without congressional authorization, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial."...lets hope they're not too similar, eh? Indeed, let's hope that BHO doesn't take the last train back to Illinois, as Lincoln did.