Tuesday, 2 November 2010

How the mighty fall

It looks as though Obama’s Democrats are in for something of a drubbing in today’s mid-term elections; and that it is widely being seen as an opportunity to deliver a verdict on Obama himself.  It doesn’t make his situation irrecoverable – other presidents have suffered a similar fate and gone on to win a second term – but it’s an astonishing turnaround in fortune for a man who seemed to be offering so much.
There are politicians in the UK – and in Wales – who saw Obama’s success in 2008, and have thought that they’d like to emulate it, by copying the style, technique, or even just the rhetoric used by Obama; but the decline in his popularity in the US should cause them to stop and think.  The question they should be asking is just how much substance was there under all that froth and excitement.
Obama’s words appeared to be offering a vision of a very different America.  Perhaps he really does want to see a very different America, but he seems to have raised higher expectations than he is able to fulfil.  Maybe it’s just a ‘timescale’ issue, and he was insufficiently clear about how long it might take to deliver.  Either way, a lot of people are feeling very let down.
I’ve always believed that it’s important to offer people a vision of a different future, but it has to be genuine, clear, and honest about timescales - and there is much more to a vision of the future than mere rhetoric.  Politicians who confuse the two deserve to fail.  Words like ‘hope’ and ‘change’ are meaningful only in the context of a programme to deliver them.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

People in power are remembered for a whole variety of reasons
When Obama leaves the White House even if for nothing else he will be remembered for being the first black President of the United States This is a major achievement and will open the doors for others to aspire to thigs long considered to be outside their reach.

As for me I hope in my lifetime to meet the first president of an independent Wales

Anonymous said...

Colour is only skin deep.

Guantanamo....still open. He is aslo a war-monger. I doubt whether the survivors of collateral damage will share the same enthusiasm as many in this country for Obama's achievement.

Spirt of BME said...

You state " a lot of people let down " you might be suprised to know I am not one of them !! as I had no expectation that Obama could do anything in the first place

Welsh Ramblings said...

I read one credible analysis from a socialist group in the United States (I mean a real socialist group, not like when the far-right calls Obama one) which said that Obama was brought to power by an unprecedented mass movement, and in power has squandered that capital by watering down his defence of his own achievements. In short, he has not been radical enough in office and has ceeded ground to the enemy. The New York Mosque is a case in point, Obama at first backed it, then watered down his support and said he was neutral.

He also watered down his stance on Guantanamo, failed to bring Israel to heel during the latest round of peace talks, allowed Joe Biden to be humiliated by the Israelis and has a contradictory and mixed strategy in Afghanistan.

Peter Freeman said...

It's not entirely the President's fault. There were a lot of things that could be done but he got stymied by Congress. Even though there was a Democrat majority in both houses, that doesn't mean the same here as it does in the U K. There is far less party discipline in the United States Congress than there is in the Houses of Parliament.
The health Care debacle is a prime example, as are his attempts to pull troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Even economic stimulus programs get blocked by his own party at times.
However I must agree with the main point that Obama promised, or appeared to promise more than he could realistically deliver.
The truth about American politics is that even when the Democrats have a partisan majority, the conservatives always have the philosophical majority.
Come to think of it, that sounds very much like the UK parliament.

John Dixon said...

Peter,

"The truth about American politics is that even when the Democrats have a partisan majority, the conservatives always have the philosophical majority.
Come to think of it, that sounds very much like the UK parliament."


Indeed it does, indeed it does.

Anonymous said...

no doubt obama has disappointed those who saw him as bringing about genuine social and economic change in the US...he was in truth never about that...ideologically being more in the clinton 'new democrat' mould than being anywhere near genuine democrat radicals like the late ted kennedy or john edwards.

But what must not be overlooked when assessing obama's term of office is that he has been the subject of the most sustained campaign of hatred and vilification (yes and of racism too) than any president of the US ever...given the ferocity of the campaign against him..its not surprising he's suffering in the polls.

But i wouldnt bet against him still winning in 2012. Bill clinton suffered as badly in the 94 mid term elections yet still won easily in 96.

The bluff of the billionaire funded john birch society inspired 'tea party' will now be called..do they really represent a genuine radical grassroots movement that wants to end 'business as usual in washington'...or are they merely the foot soldiers of the big corporations and america's super rich?

Given the first act of social darwinists like rand paul will be to cut taxes for american billionaires i think we all know the answer to that...and im sure many ordinary american voters will too!

Leigh Richards