Tuesday, May 6, 2008

America’s Obama dilemma

America’s Obama dilemma
By Susenjit Guha

Didn’t Hillary play up to America’s fears when she said on TV ‘not that I know of ‘---leaving enough space for dilemmas---on being asked if she thought Obama was a Muslim?

As Americans try to figure themselves out of a dilemma, the world---better part of which has become US-wary during the George Bush presidency and are hoping for a Democrat to take over---cannot do anything but watch how the super delegates ultimately home in on their choice.

Are they ready for first time choices like a black president with a Muslim middle name who thinks out of the box---like going and meeting Iran’s Ahmadinejad or engaging North Korea’s Kim Jong II without preconditions---or a desperate woman stopping at nothing to exact her pound of flesh?

Barack Obama’s 20 year association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright may be finally coming home to roost if recent polls about the thinning lead over Hillary Clinton and reverses are to be believed.

Rev. Wright’s outrageous comments like whites infecting blacks with AIDS virus, Goddamn America and not so outrageous---but highly debatable outside the US---analogy of 9/11 when he said America’s chickens had come home to roost. Wright had been Obama’s mentor and even solemnized his marriage...

USA Today Gallup poll put Obama behind Clinton by 7% after leading by 10% in a nationwide vote among Democrats and independents. This came along with a New York Times/CBS poll showing 60% approved Obama’s trashing of Wright’s comments, but half of them believed it was politically motivated.

Hillary Clinton pounced on Obama. She had been trying ever since the presidential campaign kicked off to belittle the fellow Democrat, even at the expense of the party. Maureen Dowd wrote in The New York Times some time back that Hillary would ‘lift her torso up the Obama wall’ to somehow park herself in the White House.

Didn’t Hillary play up to America’s fears when she said on TV ‘not that I know of ‘---leaving enough space for dilemmas---on being asked if she thought Obama was a Muslim?

Nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh kept on ‘mixing up’ Obama with Osama. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews suggested late last year that the "Hussein" moniker “will be interesting down the road." Republicans started using the middle name more prominently ever since.

Wasn’t this all done to play up to the psyche which demonizes Muslims and with whom the relatively inexperienced Barack Obama plans to do business unconditionally?

Why did the middle name get bandied about so much when Obama is the very embodiment of the American dream? If 94% of Americans are religious--- as a recent Pew research suggested---then do they lack the spirit of accommodation in the sub-conscious?

And wasn’t Hillary playing to the Judeo-Christian gallery when she promised to obliterate Iran if Israel was attacked with nuclear weapons?

It doesn’t matter when Yugoslavs, Nordic or any other European immigrants deck themselves in traditional finery during festivals in the US, but pictures of Obama in Kenyan attire in Africa became good opponent trashing material for the Hillary camp.

Instead of value addition to his candidature, Obama’s part Indonesian schooling, Kenyan roots, travels to Pakistan during law college days---his room-mates were Pakistanis and Indians---are shooting up thorns in his way.

Presence of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu holy books in Obama’s mother’s study may have endeared him to many, but Pope Benedict too had drawn applauses all over when he cautioned Americans against Catholicism---all religions are true--- during his recent visit.

Obama drew flak from the media and working class Americans for being elitist, tracing love for guns, resentment and religion to lack of jobs and government apathy. Historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote in ‘War and the American Presidency’ that ‘market fundamentalism, with growing economic disparities at home and jobs exported abroad, excites social resentment and revives class warfare.’

US exceptionalism---the divine right to rule and the Biblical town on the hill concept---of neo-conservatives has been on an upsurge during the Bush presidency. It is updated Wilsonianism---President Woodrow Wilson believed internal policy should impact foreign policy---where democracy was sought to be exported wherever and when ever it was found wanting. Wilsonianism’s roots can also be traced from the fear of isolationism or non-interventionism.

But interventionism has threatened to isolate US by most of Europe and the world in matters of security alliances, fearing they too would be drawn into unnecessary conflicts and invasions.

Whether Obama can reverse the trend if elected doesn’t matter as much as the innate apprehension gradually surfacing after his surge bubble burst.

Is middle-America really comfortable with increasing non-European immigration which will make their nation more multi-cultural, multi-religious with more Obama’s in future?

And in a post racial society, why was Colin Powell---the most famous black face then--- not allowed to attend a conference on racism in South Africa by Bush during the initial years of his presidency?

Did he fear that Zionism too would be dubbed racism and reparations for blacks might have come up since the whites in the US benefited directly from their enslavement?

Americans are in an Obama dilemma which will persist till the final Democratic nomination. And surely the final bare-knuckle rip-off by the Republicans who will play and tinker with the very deep-rooted psyches that have put Obama in the news for the wrong reasons are bound to weigh heavily on the minds of the decisive super delegates.

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