Monday, July 28, 2008

Veni, vici, VE Day

By Carl

Admittedly, this is The Guardian, which is an avowed leftist newspaper in the UK, but still,
this gets a bit embarassing to read:

But, mainly, he simply appeared, and sprinkled that stardust. Gordon Brown could be seen beaming. In the dark. The dark of the hall of 10 Downing Street. Obama wasn't allowed, through protocol, to grasp Mr B's hand outside for the cameras, as he is only a presidential candidate, and it wasn't done for John McCain's visit. But there was an Obama arm swiftly around Gordon's shoulders, and a (rather fluid) returning lower-back pat, before the door shut. Asked, a little later, about Brown's prospects, he said thoughtfully: 'You're always more popular before you're in charge. Once you're responsible, you're going to make some people unhappy.'

Gordon and Barack walked together - a few minutes out at the back of Downing Street around St James's Park. Apparently they talked about economies, global warming, terrorism, Middle East stuff. Obama had been up at about four in the morning to do the same thing at breakfast with a tired-looking Tony Blair. Apparently Obama sleeps for four hours every night.

In the garden there was something going on. Psychologists have a word for it - mirroring? Transference? Both had dark suits, done up with one button in the middle, and white shirts, and silky reddish ties, their left hands in their pockets, and their right hands gesturing, constantly. Back in the garden, Gordon waved his right hand to show him various trees. Nobody quite knows why. Nor what he was saying. The crueller watchers had it down pat. 'That tree's going to vote for me ... that one's dithering.' That was possibly a little too cynical, because our Prime Minister did indeed seem to be genuinely, sunnily, smiling. Twenty minutes later, Obama met David Cameron in the grounds of the Commons, and Cameron did the same. Waved his arms and showed him shrubs. Don't they have trees in Illinois?

Seriously, gag me.

I get this was an opinion column, not a hard news piece, but the fulsome love-in that was Obama's trip to Europe was getting a bit "over the top" coverage from the foreign media, as compared to other Presidential and senator visits since, well, Bill Clinton's last world tour.

It's clear that Europe has held it's collective breath at the monument to stupidity that is the American electoral process that saw the current Resident elected not once, but twice. I imagine they believed, "How dumb does half that country have to be to not see what this man is all about?", shook their heads and proceeded to drive down the value of the dollar so they could come over and investigate for themselves.

The candidacy of Barack Obama (and the same would have been more true of a Clinton candidacy) is much like the first ray of sunshine on a rainy March day. It holds out hope for renewal, nevermind that we have no clue precisely what form that renewal will take.

The sweet effluent of praise that has been heaped on Obama is pretty understandable given that. It's not about Obama per se (again, Hillary would have been welcomed at least as heartily and probably even more so), but about America coming back to the arms of the family of the world.

That he's a Democrat is not material. That he's black, or she a woman, is not material. That he's truly the NotBush in this election, that's what matters.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's young, intelligent and can speak a sentence without stumbling across a word he's not said before, like "the". That just magnifies the glaring incapacity of George W. Bush to attain that level of affection after eight years of not only neglecting European society, but practically snubbing his nose at it.

The charge the Republicans will raise in the general election this Fall, that Obama is an elitist, that he's too polished, not the guy you'd want to have a beer with, is going to be made more effective by this messianic (sorry, it's an easier concept to grasp. I'm not trying to pick up a right wing talking point) pilgrimage.

Indeed, recent history has shown that the "Bubba" candidate will win, usually hands down, since JFK was assassinated. And I include Richard Nixon on that list, because frankly, you could outBubba George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy with a toothpick.

That Democrats, noting this, still chose between the two most unlikely Bubba candidates (and one could make the argument that Hillary kept it as close as she did for as long as she did by outBubbaing Obama) is a step in the right direction, and perhaps signals a change in the attitude of this nation, that intellect and rationality is ready to retake the mantle of governance, that reactionary policies and knee-jerk actions are no longer anything but the simple tantrums of spoiled rich kids pretending to be "real".

And maybe it is this, above all else, that Europe has sensed in the Obama candidacy.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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