Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Great Black Hope

MY knowledge of American Politics is as small as my patience for Philippine Politics, but here’s an early commentary on the US Presidential Elections in 2008.

Bush messed up too much in Iraq and as made apparent by the recent midterm elections, Americans want change. They’re going Democrat.

Sure, Democrats have spent more time criticizing the Republicans than actually offering solutions (sound familiar doesn’t it my fellow Filipinos?), but in the desert waste land of politics where there’s no water for the thirsty, people will drink sand.

I’m predicting a Democrat will win in 2008. Two names have been tossed around more than any other: Hillary Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Hillary’s got a lot going for her. She’s smart, strong, and has experience in the White House (sure, as First Lady but I figure she’d have just as much inside knowledge as any other candidate—even more, perhaps).


But I think the biggest thing Hillary has against her is the fact that she is not Bill Clinton. She’s the wife. The only one with the charm and grace to work his way around certain Clinton Oval Office “shortcomings” is Bill himself.


If I’m as hard-headed as many a Republican, I’d be suspicious of putting Bill back in the White House, even as a First Gentleman.

Unfortunately, partisan politics is the name of the game and the last person I would want to support from the other side is someone as successful as Clinton—that would give the other side too much credit and I’d be accused of political suicide within my own party.

Yup, politics sucks.

Moving on.

As much as I would’ve loved to see the first African American president come from the hood and the public school systems of Yonkers or Inglewood, reality sees that a private school educated, adopted immigrant as the more likely candidate. That’s Barack Obama.


Did you know that if you change the M in his last name and replace it with an S, Barack would have the same name as a terrorist the US hasn’t found yet after 9/11?


Americans seem to have looked past this shallow anecdote. Kudos to them. Maybe there’s hope yet (at least in the US; this remains to be seen on the local front).

His young. His idealistic. His reputation hasn’t been stained. And he’s cool—OK, maybe more in the good-boy Tiger Woods and Will Smith mold rather than the street-cred likeness of Allen Iverson and Mos Def, but in the game of politics perhaps only Bill Clinton is cooler.

I read an interesting article about Obama in The New Republic that suggested that one of the biggest things he has going is that he’s a smoker. An unapologetic one at that.


Whereas Al Gore and John Kerry seemed like they were robotically manufactured to be president, and while George W. Bush rambles on about how God saved him from alcoholism, Obama’s a smart cat with a loving family who just happens to smoke and doesn’t want to stop.


It’s sort of like the rat pack image. The lean athletic built. The suits. The smoking. The scotch (though I don’t know if Obama actually drinks). Obama’s real, Americans say.

Well, I’m not so sure being “real” for most Americans is imitating Sinatra or even Clooney but I sort of get what they mean.

But as a political pessimist at heart, I’d challenge by asking how do we know that this “realness” is not a front as well?

Pessimism aside, though, and with the elections still being a good two years away, I’m pulling for Obama. (But I’m secretly hoping Gore uses his current Inconvenient Truth celebrity to run again.)


Unfortunately, there’s reason to believe that the Great Black Hope won’t win. Bill Maher said on Larry King Live that perhaps the guy’s a little too young, a little too inexperienced.

But don’t we all want young cats in government who are still idealistic and are yet to be corrupted by the game?

Well, Maher reminded viewers that the last time Americans voted for a young, relatively inexperienced politician as president, his middle initial was W.


“Americans may be slow but they’re not dumb.”

Point taken, Maher. Point taken.


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