Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Go Bama

Hail to the Chief

I'm quite proud of myself. I have refrained from commenting on the American Presidential election throughout.

With the election over and imminent arrival of Barack Obama in the White House, I thought it might be a good idea to read both Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope.

These are interesting books, and he is an interesting man.

I was hoping to gains some insight into his political theories and find out what makes him tick. I was disappointed. He is often presented as an “outsider” to the black American community, yet there is nothing of this in the books. He writes about visits to Kenya and his extended African family, but his outlook is entirely American black. Unfortunately, he tells us nothing insightful about his unusual background.

He met his father but did not really know him. His mother was an unconventional woman in a number of unconventional relationships. His Indonesian step-father is interesting. But, what he the young Obama learned from him is hard to fathom out. I still don't feel that I know or understand his upbringing, his family or his values. This is disappointing.

I thought The Audacity of Hope would explain his political philosophy. Maybe I expected too much. It is full of “cheer leading”, by which I mean that he exhorts us to do better. Do better in almost everything. Do better, but without telling us how to do it.

The only semi-revealing moment is when he lets slip that the title is taken from a sermon by Rev Jeremiah Wright – long since disowned.

I conclude that Barack Obama is an opportunist and a good one. He has been incredibly lucky in his political career. If his integrity is intact despite working as a community organiser on the south side of Chicago and achieving political office in the State of Illinois, he probably deserves to be President.

It will be interesting to see what he does with the office. For sure, it won't take much to outperform Ol Dubbya!

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