Tag Archives: president

Obama, Clinton and Biden join hands at last

Watching Hillary Clinton speak today to the State Department staff, with Obama and Biden by her side, I just got vaklempt. What can I say? It’s simply so amazing to see those three up there on the podium, my favorite presidential candidates all through the campaign: the pit-bull, the ice queen and the smooth talker. There they all are, leading our country, not filling our ears with senseless, mumbled garbage but actual intelligent discourse.

What a breath of fresh air. I feel so excited with all their talk about what’s going to happen first, second and third. I can’t help myself getting my hopes up! Even if it doesn’t all happen right away or even at all, I’m grateful for this moment. Wow, how truly great to listen to the leader of your country and actually feel proud and in total agreement with what he’s saying.

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Because of my age and involvement in politics up until this point, Bush has been “my president.” And this is perhaps why my involvement in politics has been so marginal. What did I care? Nothing I believed in was being represented by my nation’s government, so it was easier to take the apathetic approach than fight the endless battle against the rich, white Republican man.

No longer. It feels like a dream that George Bush is left picking his nose and sipping pina coladas beside his pool in Texas, keeping his “Bushisms” rightfully to himself. But it’s true! It’s really true.

Obama, Clinton and Biden are working together to bring this country back to something I can be proud of, at home and abroad, and a place I will come back to willingly when I leave France, not only because I have no other options.

And I have to ask… did anyone else wonder for just a moment whether that misplaced “faithfully” flub by Chief Justice John Roberts during the swearing in was a ploy by Bush to make Obama look ridiculous during his moment of glory? I could just imagine Bush snickering in the background, nudging Laura with a smirk and whispering, “Yea, we got him!”

Obama inaugurated as U.S. president – but not without a little fanfare…

It’s almost a surreal experience to watch Obama’s inauguration from my apartment in France. Perhaps no more surreal than that guy in row 3,654 in D.C., but surreal nonetheless. With all this fanfare, pomp and circumstance, I am simultaneously filled with emotion that yes, we did, and with a feeling of oh my gawwwwd. Is all this really necessary?

The enormous crowds, the 24-hour coverage, the hand-held flags constantly waving – journalists are calling this “Obama-stock.” Even Dustin Hoffman got a special invite to the event. France is getting in on the fun, with several of the major news channels devoting this entire day to the Obama-love. I don’t remember much about Bush’s inauguration, but I doubt it had a lot in common with this one, besides that little hand-on-the-bible part.

Speaking of which, the religious aspect of the U.S. presidential inaugurations continue to shock me. I thought we had a separation of church and state in America. Why, then, is Pastor Rick Warren leading millions of people in prayer? Even Obama referred to the scripture in his address, signing off with the traditional “God Bless America.” Yes, I know, speaking about God on this day is part and parcel for the event, but I’m just saying – the international press is going to have a field day. Sarkozy would get laughed off the podium for talking about Jesus in front of the French public.

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Obama’s inauguration was a fine example of the fact that when America does anything, it does it big. Masses of Americans flew, drove and bussed it to Washington to witness history, with a turnout estimated at more than one million. Once the festivities got rolling, everything was done on a Hollywood scale: The Diva of Soul Aretha Franklin singing “My Country Tis of Thee,” an orchestral piece by musical sensations Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, a luscious poem by Elizabeth Alexander, a feisty and humerous benediction by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery of Atlanta, and more. There was even a parade following the luncheon for the president and his 200 invited guests, which followed the hour-long inauguration.

And don’t forget about the news coverage leading up to and following the event, which is bound to keep me up into the night. I’m already glued to CNN to see whether Soledad O’Brien will beat out Wolf Blizter for air-time (Didn’t you want to know that Obama’s penmanship was “excellent?”).

I think the only person who remembered why we were here today was President Obama. His gleaming white smile came and went briefly but was otherwised replaced by a serious look and tone to show the world that he was ready to get down to business. As he said: “Getting down to the work of re-making America.” He appealed to the international community, the Muslim world and our “friends and foes,” while still putting up a hard fight against terrorism. “We can no longer regard the suffering from outside our borders with indifference,” he stated.

Obama’s greatest appeal was to the American people themselves. He asked us to turn to our neighbors in need to offer help, or to nurture a child, for example. He reiterated that this presidency is not about him, but about us. And if we are going to follow Obama on this promise, then we’ve got to walk with him and do our part. As he said, “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world…”

As millions of tiny flags waved in the air, held up by millions of happy hands, history was made, opening the way for Obama to make his mark as president. In the words of Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, this is a moment “when brown can stick around.”

If I were a white girl – by Barack Obama

This whole Sarah Palin business is getting out of control. First she’s walking onstage alongside The Maverick with her pack of five children, including her unwed, pregnant teenage daughter, and now she’s making appearances as a comedy spectacle on Saturday Night Live. What’s next? A strip tease for Gordon Brown? I wouldn’t put it past her, honestly. She has already had more than a handshake from Pakistani President Asif Zardari, who could hardly keep his salami in his sandwich upon their first meeting.

Sarah Palin as the attractive, young, white female has moved the conversation away from the business of being a vice-president to the glorification of the white woman. As much as people want to ignore the topic of race, I don’t think anyone can admit that as Americans, we have completely removed racism from our society. As far back as a few years ago, I remember a skit on a talk show where a man disguised himself as a white man, then as a black man, and went into a store in a shopping mall. The way he was treated during each experience was depressingly heart wrenching and showed that we’ve got a long way to go before we obliterate our long, embarassing history with racism. So why would this weakness conveniently not enter into a presidential campaign?

Race has been woven through the Obama campaign since the beginning. First, the most wealthy and famous American talk show host and black female, Oprah Winfrey, endorsed Obama and the media couldn’t stop talking about it. What did it all mean? Was it because they were both black? Did this mean that Oprah was going to pay good money to get this black man elected and maybe even give him some extra prime time coverage? Oh my! And now Colin Powell has rejected longtime friend and political party compatriot John McCain for the Obama camp. I’ve got it – it’s because they’re both black!

Not only the media, but the American people have run wild with the idea of race in this campaign. I remember early on, many African-Americans claimed that Obama wasn’t really African-American because his father was Kenyan, meaning he was a direct descendant of Africa and not generations beyond. His father or his father’s father’s father didn’t know slavery by the hands of a white American, meaning he could never know the everyday plight of the typical African-American – nevermind that many African-Americans don’t know their specific heritage or how long ago their relatives actually lived in Africa. And not only is Obama’s dad Kenyan, his mother is white, making him, once again, not “really” black. Right?

But then it seems that for the most part, Obama is considered a “true” black man by many people in America. Remember the Democratic National Convention when thousands of eyes lined with tears as the first black man was named a presidential nominee? The emotionally charged moment was felt by blacks, whites, Asians and otherwise in America because in that moment, Obama encapsulated his campaign slogan of hope, fully and completely.

And how about here in France, where most people don’t even believe Obama will win the election simply because he is a black man – for here, black people rarely hold office, much less distinguished ones. For a black man to be the next president is simply unfathomable for many French people. But like the Americans, Obama gives them hope.

So don’t tell me it’s not about race. If Sarah Palin were black, would all those pearl-laden, uber-coiffed, pin-striped suited white women in the audience at the Republican National Convention be cheering as loudly as they had been, seeing themselves in Palin’s reflection as “just a typical hockey mom?” Would they be laughing quite as hard about socialism jokes or flushing all their ideals about teen sex and contraception down the toilet? Would a professionally inexperienced – and corrupt – oil loving mother of five be doing as well in the polls if she were black?

This brings me to the now well-known forward circulating on the internet and through the email inboxes of me and my friends. It’s a letter published in a Colorado Springs newspaper entitled, “What if things were switched around?” Let’s take a look at a few of the points in the piece.

First, instead of Sarah Palin, what if it were Obama who had five children, including an unwed pregnant teenage daughter? In seconds, people would be calling this just another case of a black man’s irresponsibility. Whereas Palin as a black woman may have quieted the enthusiasm of McCain supporters, Obama in her shoes wouldn’t have even gotten to the plate, much less first base.

And what about education? What if Obama had gone to four or five different colleges, only to graduate with a B.A. like Palin, instead of getting his degree from a prestigious university with a law degree from Harvard to follow? On top of his already “low level of experience”, his lack of education would be a crushing blow.

The forward’s list doesn’t stop there, moving from Palin comparisons to those of Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama and of course, John McCain. Speaking of The Maverick, while Obama has had a strong, faithful, long-lasting marriage, John McCain is a divorcee who cheated on his first wife. Imagine the ultimate combination: Obama as the black man with a simple university degree, five children and an unwed pregnant teenage daughter, who had cheated on his wife before getting divorced and remarried, then gotten sued on corruption charges. I don’t care which side of the political fence you sit on – a black man with all these “credentials” would not be considered for a job as a high school teacher much less the president. So why are we revering two white candidates who embody all these qualities?

Americans should take a good hard look within themselves before going to the polls this November to decide what exactly they’ve based their choices on. I think we can all safely say that this presidential campaign has turned into a circus. But what I fear most, is that the biggest circus of all will turn out to be the McCain/Palin combination in the White House. Race issues not included.

If ever I have appreciated living in France, now is the time. I know we expats always say this before an election, but here it goes again: if John McCain becomes president, I’m staying in France forever.

Want to see more of the circus? Here’s some fun I’ve been having with the whole Palin craze. Enjoy… but responsibly.

http://www.palinaspresident.us/