All 10 entries tagged Barack Obama

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December 03, 2008

The Obama backlash begins

They like him, but not that much.

President-elect Obama has been thwarted in his attempt to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

In a run-off Senate election in Georgia, the Republicans won 60% of the vote after their candidate, Saxby Chambliss (what a name!) campaigned on the basis that a Democrat victory there would be like giving Obama a blank cheque.

Georgia agreed with him.

Maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise – McCain won the southern state in the Presidential election by 52 – 47%.

But the bigger margin of victory in this Senate race suggests the country might just be hedging its bets after months of Obamamania.


November 23, 2008

Breaking from the script

I thought Barack Obama was supposed to be The West Wing v.2? I mean, he even appointed Josh Lyman as his Chief of Staff.

Now he’s got elected, the script’s got jumbled up.

His weekly radio address yesterday was headlined:

Obama seeks to create 2.5m jobs

Come on, neither Jed Bartlet nor Matthew Santos were centrists, but they knew full well the adage that governments don’t create jobs, businesses do.

Has the U.S. gone socialist overnight?


November 05, 2008

God Bless America

Barack Obama and family

I went to bed at about 2.15am last night (9.15pm ET), confident that John McCain was out of it.

He was.

Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio were all being pushed towards Obama wins. Just one of them was probably enough.

The Obama that spoke in Chicago a few hours ago was an older, wiser and certainly more tired one than was thrust onto the political stage back in 2004. That date – and its closeness to the present day – is just one of the amazing things about this election.

In few races could a junior senator from a Northern state with relatively left-wing values beat an experienced war hero like John McCain.

Throw in his race – but more importantly his full name, Barack Hussein Obama – and the result of the 2008 election could have been written by Hollywood.

  • Dizzy makes a good point that this wasn’t the landslide that the electoral college would suggest. As I write, McCain received 47% of the popular vote. If this wasn’t an election, that’d be rounded up to ‘half’. The United States is still a divided country, even if state boundaries have conspired to suggest otherwise.
  • I stumbled across this website yesterday which is very cute. It’s the online equivalent of “are we nearly there yet”. Until a few hours ago, it said “almost”.
  • The TV coverage on both sides of the Atlantic was interesting. David Dimbleby on the BBC was useless, and must surely be approaching retirement. He had to ask his studio guests to help him identify Joe Lieberman, kept barking at the control room while still on-screen, and didn’t give the impression he knew much about U.S. politics.
  • Sky did better, but the constant ad-breaks made me give up. It’s a bit like watching Formula 1 on ITV – you know something’s going to happen while you’re learning about washing powder.
  • Stateside, MSNBC was a bit dry, Fox News was a bit depressed and CNN brought Star Wars to the Presidential Election – their correspondents appeared in the studio by hologram. I loved it.

Later I’ll probably write something about what all of this means for the UK.


November 04, 2008

Bated breath

The U.S. Election, after about six billion years of waiting, is finally upon us. It seems to be an almost unbloggable subject now. There’s little left to be said.

It’s been the most fiercely contested election in history – anywhere. Never before has there been such interest in a electoral battle between two people.

The internet’s been a big winner of 2008 – there’ve been few arguments overlooked, barely a minute without another revelation about McCain or Obama’s policies.

But has this been the most transparent election ever?

It’s hard to think so.

To some extent, the media’s role in all of this has been devolved for the first time to the people who upload and comment on videos on YouTube, to college campuses and to the writers on Saturday Night Live.

But there’s been a dearth of hard, investigative journalism since the primaries ended. Perhaps the bitterly fought preliminaries meant there was little to discover about the two candidates once they’d fought off the might of the Clintons or the Christian right.

There were raised eyebrows at some stories – Obama’s choice of church and McCain’s choice of running-mate. But we didn’t learn very much about the candidates that we didn’t already know two years ago.

Some journalists were burned by the 2004 cockup in which CBS News wrongly presented controversial documents as fact. Respected journalists lost their jobs over it.

Maybe that’s put the media on edge in 2008. Also, job cuts in virtually every U.S. newspaper group have made investigative journalism harder. (1) (2)

So I can’t help feeling that whoever wins tonight (or tomorrow), we might need to expect the unexpected. Neither candidate’s biography seems to have been finished yet.


October 29, 2008

Race for 2008: Is tonight when the tide turns?

Thank goodness for our election laws.

Tonight, Barack Obama will straddle three national TV networks to tell the American people what he will do for them.

It’s an interesting idea, but could it spectacularly backfire?

The backlash has already begun, with Obama’s ten-year-old daughter Malia. She asked her mum: “Are you going to interrupt my TV?”. She was reassured the broadcast wouldn’t be going out on the Disney Channel.

But it will be going out on Fox, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Univision, BET and TV One.

Fox has had to push back a major sporting fixture to avoid a clash with the Obamathon.

He’s also appearing on tonight’s The Daily Show – an appearance I’ll definitely be checking tomorrow on More4 – as well as doing several big interviews over the next couple of days.

Obama isn’t so much going for blanket coverage, as suffocation.

There’s a real danger that the 30-minute broadcast will come across as arrogant.

McCain’s already jumped on it, saying: “No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I’m president”.

The piece is apparently high on ‘Americana’ – flags, strings and Presidential imagery.

But why’s he spending $6m on broadcasting it when it’d still get millions of views if he stuck it on YouTube?

The polls are apparently beginning to tighten – could one last burst of arrogance pop the bubble?

(He’s already joked about his face being on Mount Rushmore!)


Race for 2008: Is the media rooting for Obama?

The Republicans have been facing an uphill battle ever since George W. Bush won the 2004 election.

The media hunt as a pack, and the collective pendulum has been swinging towards the Democrats for the last two years.

I might have called it just a little bit wrong when I said of Joe Biden: “[calling Obama ‘clean’ will] probably be his only notable contribution to the campaign”, but I wasn’t alone when I predicted whoever won the Democrat primary would take the White House.

But the ease with which Obama has got this far is starting to worry people.

Michael Malone writes that as a journalist, he’s ashamed of the bias shown towards Obama.

While the media has gone through Sarah Palin’s bins, trashed John McCain’s wife Cindy and given anything John’s said little serious attention, Obama and Biden have had it easy.

Malone says it’s not because of journalists, but because their editors have only been selecting – and commissioning – stories which help smooth the wheels of the Obama campaign, and perpetuate the narrative that appeals most.Obama worship

Why?

The media pack loves a good story. America’s first mixed-race President is an incredible one, which everyone (including the British media) have got caught up in. This is only the biggest, most expensive, most anticipated election in decades because of Barack Obama’s colour.

There’s also a slightly more sinister side to this. McCain dying in office would be an enormous story. Obama dying in office would make the death of Princess Diana look like a footnote in history.

No matter what happens, an Obama presidency will bring with it more drama than President Bartlet managed in seven seasons of The West Wing.

A changed dynamic in Congress also appeals to their instincts. It’ll give them a common enemy in just a few months, and a filibuster-proof 60 seats for the Democrats in the Senate means the effective opposition isn’t the Republicans, but the media.

Put simply, if Obama wins next week, it’s the end of business as usual.

And that’s why virtually every newshound is rooting for him.

News coverage of George Bush – in fact his lame duck status – has come about because the media got bored with him. The war in Iraq isn’t working. The war in Iraq isn’t working. The war in Iraq isn’t working. Say it several times, and people get bored of that story. You can change Iraq for ‘financial stimulus package’, ‘healthcare’ or really any other Bush policy, and it becomes tiresome pretty quickly. News coverage of the White House has been minimal since early 2007, when the race for 2008 really began.

The narrative of the past six years has been full of failure. Obama might not have intended to woo the media with it when he came up with his slogan, but change is exactly what they want, never mind the electorate.

The bias in the coverage of this election looks more than likely to help bring that change about.

> Politico in the States defends itself against pro-Obama bias


February 07, 2007

Race for 2008: Place your bets now…

Race for 2008

With the field so widely spread, I thought it would be interesting to see what odds bookies are offering on the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. I think the odds on Clinton and Obama are quite poor at this stage of the race, while some of the outsiders may well be worth a punt.

Hillary Clinton 2/1
John McCain 10/3
Barack Obama 11/2
John Edwards 7/1
Rudolph Giuliani 10/1
Mitt Romney 12/1
Al Gore 14/1
Condoleeza Rice 20/1
Joseph Biden 25/1
Bill Richardson 28/1

Joseph BidenOf the Top 10, six are Democrat and four are Republican. This doesn’t necessarily mean the Democrats are favourites though – instead it probably means there’s fewer standout Democrat candidates.

In fact, you’ll get odds of 4/5 on a Democrat President and 11/10 on a Republican in the White House, suggesting the Democrats are currently ahead. But if a Republican pulls away from President Bush’s shadow, that will all change.

And it’s interesting to see the difference between betting on the President and betting on the candidates. For instance, Joseph Biden is the ninth most likely to be President, but the 12th most likely Democrat candidate. Which suggests people think he’s not likely to win the nomination, but if he did, he’d do well. Either that, or people don’t know much about him.

If we’re talking bad odds, how about Arnold Schwarzenegger at 100/1. Being that he’s not eligible to stand, it seems a bit unlikely he’ll win.

And my tip? Well, I think Obama vs McCain looks the most likely at the moment, but I think that’ll change. I’d put money on Bill Richardson at 28/1 – he’s half Mexican, popular and won’t be seen as liberal. At the very least he’s got to be a possible for Vice President. If I had any money I’d lay a speculative pound or two.


February 01, 2007

Race for 2008: Dick Morris says…

Dick MorrisDick Morris ran Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996. He’s since turned on his former boss, and even more so on his former boss’s wife. He gave a speech on Wednesday at the offices of Americans for Tax Reform:

  • Although Barack Obama is an “exciting phenomenon,” he is the equivalent of “political stem cells: You can make him into any tissue you want.”
  • “It is in the national interest that, if there is a Democratic president, that it not be Hillary.”
  • “The Republican field is like the New York Yankees: They’ve got a pitching rotation of really great names who are 45 years old and who probably won Cy Young Awards when they were younger. But they’ll have a sore arm by the World Series and will end up on the [disabled list]. Republicans need to look to the minor leagues.”
  • He laid out the political future: “Hillary will be the next president, and she’ll be the worst president we’ve ever seen.” No matter what happens, the situation in Iraq will “assure that the GOP gets massacred in 2008 congressional elections.” In 2010, the Republicans will take back the Congress — “Hillary will give Republicans the same gift she gave them in 1994” — and they’ll win the presidency in 2012, but thanks to demographic shifts favoring Republicans (namely the rising Hispanic and African-American populations), “that will be the last Republican president we’ll ever see.”

From Examiner.com


January 16, 2007

Obama starts his run

From AP:

Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday he is taking the initial step in a presidential bid that could make him the nation’s first black to occupy the White House. Obama announced on his Web site that he was filing a presidential exploratory committee. He said he would announce more about his plans in his home state of Illinois on Feb. 10.

Barack Obama has announced what we all already knew. He’s the first black politician to launch a credible bid for the White House. His opponents claim he’s not been clear about his views, and that Democrats don’t yet know what they’d be voting for.

There’s some truth in that, but his freshness has got to be a good reason to vote for him after eight years of Bush. And Hillary Clinton will still be worried that her once sure-fire candidacy will be snatched by the Illinois senator.


November 19, 2006

Planning their own funeral?

Barack ObamaHaving picked up both houses of Congress, the Democrats are pondering how far they should go in creating a new law against corruption. On the one hand it’s a clever idea – a piece of legislation that Bush won’t be able to veto. But they’re also starting to appreciate that if they screw things up, they’ll get beaten over the head with the very legislation they called for.

Initial proposals, which included a ban on politicians accepting gifts from lobbyists – you mean that’s alright at the moment?! – are being debated vociferously by Democrats after their victory in the Midterms. Barack Obama, the Illinois senator who is tipped for great things, believes the strong mandate from the public means they should go even further in making U.S. politics less corrupt. But others have rejected the idea of an independent watchdog, arguing politicians – and especially nice, clean Democrat ones – can regulate themselves.

It’s a touching proposal, but ultimately nonsense. Those who oppose such measures may as well be holding up their hands and saying “Don’t do this or my hands will get burnt!” For those whose hands are a little close to the fire, there must be plenty of nervousness that in creating tough legislation to stop sleaze, they’ll end up building their own highway between Capitol Hill and a jail cell.


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