06 November 2008

Obama: change we can expect

Americans have elected a new leader, who will take office next January. A quick essay sharing my reading of this man, after watching him for almost a year as he campaigned for the presidency. Full essay.


Chee Wai Lee said...

I am one of his (somewhat less) starry-eyed admirers.

I think you are correct for the most part. Many of the challenges he will face will come in the form of organization. He will have to deal with many competing interests and he will have to find the manpower and expert advice to help him deal with them.

Having seen the many videos of him interacting with his supporters and volunteer workers, I have very little doubt that he's genuine in his beliefs. I only worry about the time when theory faces implementation (he has alluded to this in his victory speech).

Part of the reason I've been less starry-eyed is that I've seen him become more "main-stream" as he went from being a democratic primary contender to a nominee. He appears willing to compromise some of his ideals in order to get things working. I do not begrudge him that, but I was disappointed nonetheless (though to be fair, I have no good solutions I could offer otherwise).

As of now, I have sufficient faith Obama can and will do the right things and make the right moves. Like yourself, I can only say "we'll see".

Anonymous said...

Hi Yawning Bread, other than the Presidential Elections, California (Proposition 8), Arizona and Florida also voted on Gay Marriage ban. Sadly, it seems that gay marriage is going to be banned in all 3 states. Would like to hear your thoughts on this outcome.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Obama. He has certainly made history in yesterday's US Presidential Election. All we have to do now is to see his performance.

Our PM is ever so quick to congratulate election successes of presidents and prime ministers. But so slow to respond to issues that affect his ordinary citizens' life, e.g. escape of Mas Selamat, and the Lehman fiasco. He should turn his attention to issues at home.

Anonymous said...

What I like is that the US elected a racial minority as leader without such things as GRCs in place. Where does that leave Singapore? Do we have so many racists compared to the US that we still need GRC to ensure minority representation?

Anonymous said...

Every thinking person in Singapore knows what the GRCs are about. Although many of us have expressed our objections to it, our leaders are deaf. Their refusal to remove the GRCs will eventually cost them dearly.

Charles said...

Reading most of the blog postings on Obama's presidency, I get the feeling that most feel that the African American will be a force for good though I am less than convinced. My assessment of the situation is this: that despite Obama's calls of change, they are nothing short of political slogans.

His strategy towards the Middle East may alter (unlike that of Bush) but it is unlikely to be of any radical change that will bring about 'peace or democracy' that people are hoping for.

As for Asia, I really doubt Obama's presidency will make any serious efforts to concentrate in the region given it has traditionally been less of a focus in previous administrations.

Anonymous said...

You said that you think Obama is driven by ambition, rather than ideals. I tend to agree with you, except I think Obama, though not driven by ideals is a man of principles. Look at the last-minute campaign by the McCrain camp to smear him by linking him to American urban terrorist. He resisted to do likewise to the McCrain camp by resorting to dirty tricks campaigning. In fact, to look in perspective, his campaign has been cleaner, and more aboveboard than any of the candidates, past and present. I think this spells hopes for the gay movement. He, himself has made statements saying that though he believes that marriage should be a union between man and woman, he respects civil unions, meaning that civil union couples should have some of the rights that married couples should have. Well, this is certainly the most pro-gay stance than any of the candidates has taken. Given that gay unions are still frowned on by a large section of Americans, the conclusion to be drawn is that it is a statement made on principle and not to gather popular votes for himself. What this implies is that in the future, if evidence suggests to him that he should fine-tune his stand to support gay marriage instead, if it appeals to his convictions, then he will do so regardless of whether the conservative-rights managed to gather more people to their side. In other words, his principles are not based on popular opinion so intellectual arguments which the pro-gay camp is better at doing will appeal more to him.

Anonymous said...

I think that Obama will continue to focus on Asia, particularly India and China. This is a historical trend that he cannot ignore. The challenge for South-east Asia, in particular Singapore is to stay relevant despite competition from China and India. Whether he will resort to protectionism to protect jobs at home is hard to say. Traditionally, Democrats have been less pro-trade than Republicans but we have seen an exception in Clinton. And trade is often determined by the Congress, rather than by the President. We now have a Democrat-majority Congress. But given that Obama is one not motivated by ideals, he might come to the conclusion that the only way forward for Americans is to have more trade, not less trade.
Are Singaporeans more rascist than Americans so much so that a prime minister from a minority racial group is still unlikely in Singapore in the near future? I do not think so. But I think that Americans have a quality that Singapoeans lack, a firm belief in democracy and what democracy stands for. Thus, even if an American might be have some degree of rascist feelings such as preferring to mix with people of his own racial group, he will still vote for Obama because of his beliefs in democracy.

tsft said...

You might be a "sober" reader of Obama, but your opinion of McCain is misguided.

It is easy to judge McCain based on six months of campaigning. But over the course of the two years (or even eight, if you want to count his campaign in 2000) you should have a more charitable opinion.

The prevailing opinion actually is that McCain was poorly advised by his campaign. His campaign veered far too right, when he has almost left-leaning instincts. McCain wanted Lieberman, but his advisers talked him into choosing a VP candidate he had only met twice before.

In fact, McCain must be one of the unluckiest presidential candidates around. He had the monkey of Bush on his back, a (proven) liberal media bias and demographical realities to combat. The first of these was enough to kill McCain's campaign, never mind the self-destructing tendencies of a team of campaign advisers with the collective intellect of a housefly.

Obama, on the other hand, was cool, unflappable, consistent. And most things went his way.

Having said all of this, I'd have voted for Obama if I had a vote. But that vote would be based on Obama's qualities rather than McCain's deficiencies, which are a lot less than you appear to think.

neil craig said...

The other big border issue in Asia is Taiwan. I think it is always pressing but not necessarily urgent. However Obama probably has little sympathy with Taiwan whereas McCain would probably have fought it to the hilt.

You are right that Obama's problems are going to be primarily economic - everybody's problems & opportunities in the next few years are going to be economic & the major fact in the world will be China's economic growth - its military growth being of less interest.