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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama is President - So What?

I've been musing over the inauguration, with all of its pomp and circumstance. I am afraid I am left to conclude - so what? Ah, but you say - Here is the first black American President. If I were an American I would be ashamed it had taken so long to elect an individual based on character rather than skin colour. And, in fact, I'm not entirely sure he has been elected based on character or perceived ability. As often happens in social dynamics, the pendulum swings too far and the prize is actually muddied in the attempt to achieve it.

But he is so full of charisma. He will make a good leader. Fantastic. Hitler was highly charismatic. So were Princess Diana and Pierre Trudeau. Their records of leadership are highly varied. True, charisma tends to make people want to follow you and fall into line with your plans, but it also has a disturbing tendency to make people forget to think on their own, often with disastrous results.

He will fix our economy. He has turned communities around and has incredible plans for the United States. Maybe yes, maybe no. The economy is pretty close to rock bottom. There isn't a whole lot of other direction to go, but up. Pretty much the same as the communities he helped to rebuild. People were desperate for change and he offered them solutions that they wholeheartedly worked with and goals they strove towards in a unified fashion. They had no other choice, really.

He will repair the image of my great country and help return it to its former glory as a superpower. Perhaps temporarily, at best. US policies on everything from health care to the treatment of its war veterans cannot be erased overnight. And, in this economy, it is unlikely it will be. Osama bin Laden did not send his bombs into the World Trade Centre on a whim. There has been a long, simmering hatred of the US that didn't start eight years ago. It culminated 8 years ago and continues to this day.

The 'official' version of history is likely to be very kind to the 44th president. It will have to be. Any other opinion would be considered racially motivated and pooh-poohed to the fringe of memory. So be it. Only time will tell, though history will not entirely accurately portray it, what kind of president Mr. Obama will be. 1. 2.
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