Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ugly still, but proud American

Yes, all of this Obama-mania is excessive and will inevitably be punctured should he win the presidency and start making tough calls or big mistakes. For now, though, what it reveals is how much many foreigners, after all the acrimony of the Bush years, still hunger for the "idea of America" — this open, optimistic, and, indeed, revolutionary, place so radically different from their own societies.
So said Mr. Friedman today. I had to lay off my own Obama-mania, but, you know, it really is exciting.

What I like about Friedman's column today, Obama on the Nile is that he captures what I have been seeing for awhile. In the Central African Republic, people I met were watching (with amazement!) as America has wrestled with and actually come to terms with nominating a person of color to potentiall be president. They are inspired not out os some naive hope, but that things can change. Here in the UK, it was total disbelief among the Euro trash that the same country that re-elected W. after a fear mongering campaign in 2004 could actually elect the son of a Kenyan. The disbelief echoed Roger Cohen's column, The Good American and Monsieur Obama, as he described the French reaction:
Out in the troubled suburbs, with their large African and Arab populations and broad mistrust of a political system that has produced one black parliamentarian among the 555 representing mainland France, Obama is an urban legend.
America needs this. Even if Obama is flawed (he is) and even if politics will be politics (it will), I can't let this moment pass without savoring a little social change.

I think Clinton's campaign also was great for the US this year. People got involved. But, I stick by my inital fears about a Clinton presidency - the "dynastification" mattered. And no matter how clever and skilled she was, her campaign was always going to have too much baggage. Not her fault, but it mattered a lot. I greatly appreciated her speech on Saturday and truly hope her supporters will take her words to heart.
I want to take all our energy and all our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president of the United States.

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