It's been a while since I last posted, however I have continued to keep up with Presidential Primaries. I'm thrilled that Barack Obama has swept the last ten primaries and caucuses:
The more that I watch and listen to Senator Obama, the more convinced I am that he's the best candidate to be our next President.
I've been impressed with Obama's performances during the debates between he and Hillary Clinton. I appreciate his ability to remain calm, listen to the questions posed to him, and then respond thoughtfully. I also admire his practice of staying on track and addressing the debate topics, rather than taking cheap shots at Clinton. Conversely, I've found Senator Clinton's demeanor to be one in which she's practically chomping at the bit to respond and then fires off sound bites. It's also been disappointing to watch her grab at tiny threads of insignificance in an attempt to unravel Obama's character.
One of Hillary Clinton's recent strategies to debase Senator Obama is to dismiss the overwhelming support he's receiving through huge turnouts at Obama rallies. Clinton has continuously repeated: My opponent gives speeches, I offer solutions. It's one thing to get people excited, I want to empower you to live your dreams so we can all go forward togetheR... So there's the difference between us - speeches versus solutions. Talk versus action.
The subtext here is that Senator Clinton, like so many machine politicians before her, can only provide a hollow sound bite with the hope that by repeating it, it means that it's true (the Bush Administration excelled in this approach - until Americans finally began to realize the Emperors weren't wearing any clothes). What is noteworthy about the Obama campaign is that Barack Obama is energizing and inspiring Americans, as well as people around the globe, to be informed, to participate, and to have hope for the future - on a scale that's unprecedented.
I do believe that Obama's appeal has a great deal to do with his charisma and demeanor. However, one shouldn't forget that those traits are invaluable to diplomacy, negotiation, and the implementation of solutions.
One area that has most impressed me about Senator Obama is his perspective on the current administration's arrogance towards every other country in the world and his belief in a new approach to global relations - diplomacy.
I'm so tired of hearing "The United States is the Greatest Country On Earth," and "The United States is the example for the rest of the world." The best messenger of similar sentiments was Hitler - just keep saying it and "the people" will believe and adopt it as truth. Sadly, in both cases, it's worked.
The truth is: The United States Is NOT The Greatest Country On Earth.
However, I guess that it does depend on what's being measured:
The Greatest Country On Earth for wasting its resources - human and monetary - on its inability to admit a mistake?
The Greatest Country On Earth for handing its power over to corporations?
The Greatest Country On Earth for consuming the majority of the world's resources?
The Greatest Country On Earth for being responsible for global warming?
Hmmmmmmm, well I can tell you what the United States is NOT the Greatest Country On Earth for:
1. Peace - The United States ranked 96 out of 121 countries. http://www.visionofhumanity.com/rankings/
2. Literacy - The United States ranked 18 out of 45 countries.
3. Murders (per capita) - The United States ranked 24 out of 62 countries. http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-crime-murders-per-capita
4. Health Systems - The United States ranked 37 out of 190 countries.
5. The Environment - The United States ranked last out of 21 rich countries.
My point here is not to say that the United States is not a great country, it is in many ways. However, every country has its greatness and should be recognized and approached as such. No one wants to hear: "We're better than you, and in fact, we're the best and we know what's best for you and everyone else"
From what I've observed of the candidates, Senator Clinton reflects the status quo in how she views international relations - the United States know what's best for the world and dictates that. Senator Obama represents a respectful approach that is open to listening to other nations and working with them.
During the Democratic debate on February 21, 2008, Hillary Clinton was asked by Jorge Ramos:
RAMOS: Very simply, would you meet with him or not, with Raul Castro?
Clinton's response was very telling and spoke to the current status quo:
CLINTON: I would not meet with him until there was evidence that change was happening, because I think it's important that they demonstrate clearly that they are committed to change the direction. Then I think, you know, something like diplomatic encounters and negotiations over specifics could take place.
But we've had this conversation before, Senator Obama and myself, and I believe that we should have full diplomatic engagement where appropriate. But a presidential visit should not be offered and given without some evidence that it will demonstrate the kind of progress that is in our interest, and in this case, in the interests of the Cuban people.
Campbell Brown followed up with the following to Obama:
BROWN: Senator Obama, just to follow up, you had said in a previous CNN debate that you would meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, among others, so presumably you would be willing to meet with the new leader of Cuba.
Obama's response provided a clear core difference between the two:
OBAMA: That's correct. Now, keep in mind that the starting point for our policy in Cuba should be the liberty of the Cuban people. And I think we recognize that that liberty has not existed throughout the Castro regime. And we now have an opportunity to potentially change the relationship between the United States and Cuba after over half a century.
I would meet without preconditions, although Senator Clinton is right that there has to be preparation. It is very important for us to make sure that there was an agenda, and on that agenda was human rights, releasing of political prisoners, opening up the press. And that preparation might take some time. But I do think that it's important for the United States not just to talk to its friends, but also to talk to its enemies. In fact, that's where diplomacy makes the biggest difference.
OBAMA: Because the problem is, if we think that meeting with the president is a privilege that has to be earned, I think that reinforces the sense that we stand above the rest of the world at this point in time. And I think that it's important for us in undoing the damage that has been done over the last seven years, for the president to be willing to take that extra step.