Sunday, January 18, 2009

Optimism onboard Obama's Ox...

"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 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.

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Paul said...

Excellent post if you don't mind me saying so. As an aside I played John Wilkes Booth in a school play 34 years ago.

Anyway back to the big fella and what has struck me is the huge gap between the reality and the aura in so much as everybody is expecting this guy to turn water into wine (with Bono's help obviously) and as you say he hasn't even scrunched his toes on the Oval Office carpet (Die Hard reference for the anoraks amongst us).

I sincerely hope that he isn't just Bush/Blair but in a different colour, a sort of version 2.0. I certainly think his economic desire is to be protectionist which is nothing unusual for an American president. The other thing that struck me a couple of weeks ago was an interview on Radio Four with a pro Obama journalist in the States who said that American politics may be coming to the conclusion that it doesn't need the rest of the world either politically or financially and may go through a period of looking in on itself. Given the current state of the world economy I think introspection would be very wrong at the moment on the other hand, as I have written in the past, we cannot produce goods in the hope that they will sell and America produces more than most.

Span Ows said...

Oh no!!! Paul, both you and James Delingpole at the Spectator have read my mind...he says "that the President-elect is horribly reminiscent of Tony Blair in 1997" [LINK]

Span Ows said...

P.S. "make fists with ya toes".... ;-)

Span Ows said...

P.P.S....links...message to readers: both that Spectator link in my P.S. and the Newsweek one in the post are the print versions...i.e. if a window pops up asking you to print just cancel it and you should get the whole article on one page (or however many was going to get printed) I do this because there are many websites that have so much pap and tat all over the place (bit like the old Owsblog, eh?) that you have to go through 3 to 6 pages just to read what fits on 1 piece of A4!!!!

Paul said...

Ah, me and James Dengue Fever on the same side of the street, who'd have thought it. I hope thatlink still works in four years time and then, if you still blog, you can say 'look, we were wrong.'

He's spot on about the excitement, it's like 1997 all over again, the new broom sweeps clean attitude. GBW's legacy will be his foreign policy, Obama is coming at things from a domestic angle. Of course it will go horribly wrong in the end, it always does, even with Churchill and Thatcher enough was too much - let's just hope that for Obama it doesn't end at the theatre.

Span Ows said...

Let's hope not!!! And that's not all: whilst browsing about Martin Luther King I happened upon the Malcolm X a bit (loved the film with my mate Denz etc)...looked at the Obama Malcolm X's love child?...nobody has spotted this...the I googled....oh boy have they spotted it!!!

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