Thursday, July 24, 2008

Phenom or Phantom?

There doesn't seem to be much middle ground when it comes to Barack Obama does there? People seem to love him or find him vacuous.

I can't say that I fall into either camp, however, given that I really hope McCain does not win, I can say that I support Obama as much as a Canadian can.

Here is a transcript of his speech today if you didn't hear it. I'm not going to comment on the content, you can make up your own mind on that.

What I do find absolutely fascinating though is how people react to this man. If the numbers are correct, apparently 1M people turned out today. That is remarkable but the question is,why?

What struck me watching him today is what he represents for those who have watched the US spiral out of control for the past 7 1/2 years. Not just Americans obviously. The degree to which the rest of the world has been affected by the Bush administration is undeniable and I think it is that fact that has made Obama so popular.

Now, there is no denying that he is charismatic and he says the right things if you are in disagreement with Bush, but I think much of America and much of the world is desperate for change in the States and Obama is the personification of that change and hope. There is danger in that of course, because you run the risk of becoming known for rhetoric only.

What I particularly like however, is the fact that the conversation is shifting and 'progressive' (I know, it's a dangerous word) issues are no longer being ignored. In fact, the regressive views of the right are looking more and being presented as more ridiculous with each passing day. That's good news.

That this man is not just being covered in the US, but around the world, means that same progressive conversation, attitude if you like, is likely to occur in many places, including Canada.

It's difficult to know if this phenomenon will continue with Obama, but it's interesting to watch. As an aside, my partner was at a dinner last month and a Canadian journalist who was at the same table, (who I will not name), said that he's seen Obama speak on a few occasions, and in his career he's never seen or felt anything like it. For the record, this journalist is no 'lefty'.

So what do you think? Is Barack Obama flying too close to the sun or will this play out to the end?

Here is part of the speech.

16 comments:

penlan said...

Funny that. I was thinking about Obama late this afternoon & trying to figure out what the mass attraction is. I did watch the speech he gave in Germany today on T.V.

I still haven't experienced the charisma he supposedly exudes, although he must, & perhaps you have to be there to see him "live & in person" to "feel" it. Sometimes it seems to be a form of mass hysteria.

I came to one conclusion, same as yours. That the entire world, as well as a large portion of Americans, are so sick of Bush & his cohorts & their corruption, lying, abuse of power, taking away civil liberties (covertly), the Iraq War, & so on, that they are ready for "change".

Like you I've looked at Obama in terms of "not McCain, anyone but him".

But at the same time I don't trust him not to continue some of the same policies as Bushco. Especially in the area of civil liberties & removing them (for the sake of the country's security), supposedly, & continuing a war (thinking long-term Afghanistan) or starting a new one. Possibly Pakistan or Iran.

He would inherit a tremendous amt. of power that has been added to the office of Prez & I don't think he will reverse much of anything, or anything of any importance. Like FISA for example. As the saying goes "power corrupts" & I do see him as "hungry for power".

He is centrist not left, & has already changed his stance on many things. And this has unsettled a lot of his followers in the blogosphere.

He IS in the pocket of big money, corporations, oil as well, etc. & I think many people will be very disappointed if he is elected. Very disappointed.

Listening closely to his speeches they are all rhetoric & no real substance but he is able to say things in a way that makes it "sound" like there is substance there.

He comes across as arrogant to me, many times, & I don't trust him at all. But again, better him than McCain. But in the end there won't be too much difference between the two as both parties are so similar now as to appear to be one, frankly.

I will most likely be bashed heavily for these comments but this is how I perceive him.

He will make it to the end I believe, if in that you mean becoming President, but, again, there will be little change. And the deification of Obama will soon dissipate.

Anonymous said...

just see his we smile and that is charismatic , it oozes out of him.

knb said...

You shouldn't be bashed penlan. For the most part I think what I've tried to do here is have a reasoned discussion.

Anyone who has thought through their argument is welcome.

You make some really good points and of course Obama vis a vis the Canadian spectrum is more centrist, but that has always been true of the Dem's.

On the money thing, you may be right but, civil liberties? Well this is one issue that I believe him on.

He and the Democrats have to reverse some of this nonsense to remain credible. That must become their raison d'etre.

I hope he is a more than rhetoric. I however want to see him in office to prove that.

Cherniak_WTF said...

He will make it to the end I believe, if in that you mean becoming President, but, again, there will be little change. And the deification of Obama will soon dissipate.
He leaves me with the same feeling.

Mark said...

My take on Obama:

- His years in his church, regardless of Wright's penchant for occasional extremist remarks, have left Obama with a masterful ability to sway his congregation as a shepherd his sheep. He can only do this in the midst of his congregation BTW, you rarely see him with a backdrop. His oratory style feeds off of his audience, which is exactly why he places himself to speak with them, not to them. This, coupled with his obvious gift of composure, expression, and controlled energy, is the essence of his charismatic speaking style.

- Obama never promised to be a new politician because of his liberal views, but because of his intention to blur party lines. There is no red state, blue state etc... The only means to fashion such an ambitious coalition is a move to the centre. His central promise was to destroy the ultra-partisan nature of Washington politics. And thus, although many believe his presidency will be selling out, I will continue to believe he delivered exactly what he promised.

Cheers,

Mark

knb said...

Whew Mark. Thank you for an insightful comment.

I'm assuming, (I know we should never do that), that you are an American.

If so, your voice is worth more than our's/mine...but we want in too and I maintain that was the point of his speech.

knb said...

cwtf...as I said to penlan, I hope you are wrong.

Mark said...

An American? :)

I'm actually a public school trustee from Guelph that has just discovered the pleasures of blogging. I also happened to become addicted to the Dem primaries like most people do with Survivor LOL.

But back to the point: I believe Obama is a typical politician, but I do not consider that an insult. If he were not a politician he would not have been able to build the machine that he has to navigate to a near certain presidency. At the end of the day, why I like him so much involves my conviction that his vision, charisma, adaptability, and willingness to compromise his ideals for the better interests of his country will indeed make him a transformative historical figure. He really is like JFK, only he had to pay his own dues, rather than inheriting the name and money of the Kennedys' Camelot. But more so even than his economic background, Obama's minority upbringing provides him an outsider's perspective that gives me faith he has far more depth than the white male presidents who never had to significantly question their own social and political identity. Self-reflection is a very powerful political tool, one we have not seen in the last 7.5 years in the US and the last 2.5 in our own.

OK I'm rambling, time for bed. I really will be starting my own blog one of these days....

Mark Bailey

knb said...

My apologies Mark. I made an assumption, (I really should know better) and I do have readers from the US, but I should not have done that.

Am I redeemed if I suggest that I reacted to your passion? :)

In truth, my reaction to your comments indicate how the lines are now blurred. I think Obama has given us that gift. A global view that has been sorely lacking since Bush took and broke that oath.

Great comments Mark and if you do start a blog, let me know so I can link to it.

Dame said...

In spite of his shortcomings Obama WILL win ...there is no other option for America.....But but but then what??? I am already thinking about the reality as Obama as president... and I Do Not expect anything what should make a good progress any time soon .../Copycat of Sarkozy?/

A wild ride perhaps ... trying all Things... But a Complete non-unity in all things..
Even a President he can't just
"Tear Down walls' only Dictators would do that.... he is simply naive about how he would make Big Changes overnight with his sheer will..
All his skills are stemming from those reverends ... the preachers skill... yes I see him vacuous but I am extremely resisting any preacher I see them all as ultimate shameless lies .
Maybe that was turnig me off right from the beginning?.

It is not a bias... I just see what 's coming.

Just as I saw His "spirited " speaches will ware off fast.. and even irritating..
I see many people in the same way about him as I am ...


marta

5:05 PM,

Mark said...

knb All is good, I appreciate your offer to link to me and I will reciprocate when I do manage to create a blog!

Cheers,

Mark

knb said...

marta, I know you've held this position for a long time and I respect it.

I also get it, but what about this?

At this time in history, we need a huge change of direction. He provides that. I think he's savvy enough to know that he has to surround himself with smart people. I think he'll do that.

Keeping his feet on the ground at this point is tough. I do hope there are people around him that do that.

Who do you think his running mate should be?

knb said...

Thanks Mark.

It's easy to create a blog, it's tougher to maintain one.

Set parametre's for yourself and you'll be fine.

Dame said...

Clinton would solidify him the Most ... also Biden who is somewhat seems to be overlooked /he was not "interesting " with his pesona ??/would ground Him..

Let's Hope he will do what necessery and quit preaching and work with great minds ..
Yes the hunger For Change is so Great .
But it worries me McCain is still relatively strong in spite of all what he stands for....

Interesting thing ... my son was falling Obama /he is a young man/ Now he is cooling but thinks he will win as YOUNG CHARMING and for the CHANGE he represents ...

knb said...

Biden would be an interesting choice. The problem is that he sticks his foot in it it...often.

I don't know who would best balance Obama.

I'm sitting back for a bit.

It sounds as if you have raised a smart, thinking young man.

Kudos!

penlan said...

I would like to see Clinton as VP. BUT Bill is an impediment to that possibility, unfortunately. He is too interfering, I think. Or at least perceived that way. And his ego is so large that he could cause problems.

Plus Obama has run on "change", big change, doing things differently, new blood, & that would be like bringing in the "old gang as usual". Which would kill everything he's been saying on that platform.

Same thing with Biden. "Old boy" network. He's been there forever.

And I don't like Webb.

Perhaps John Edwards? He has a lot of appeal as he ran more on social programs like universal healthcare, help for working class families, etc.

Some good insights in comments!