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The Obama effect – from London

The Obama effect – from London

– At a gig last night, comedian Mark Thomas said: “After tomorrow, it will now be safe for Americans to hold their hands up when a comedian asks if there are any Americans in the room. You are no longer a symbol of tragedy, violence and brutality …… any Israelis in?”

– There was some BBC coverage from a college in Tottenham, where the mostly-black students were all glued to their big screens

– For most of today, it was business as usual. Then as soon as Obama’s face showed up on the monitors, people started drifting away from their desks to the big-screen television on the top floor. People started sticking their heads out of meeting rooms. By the time Obama came to spoke, the desks were relatively empty.

– Huge laughter came up when the Reverend started saying: “we are grateful to be Americans”. Bless, you haven’t lost your gift for hyperbole…

– The inauguration music was apparently composed by John Williams – the same man who composed, amongst other things, the themes to Superman and Indiana Jones. The temptation to slip a couple of Superman bars in must have been over-whelming…

I’m just wondering whether Dubya made promises to unite the nation, be friends to the world and give everyone unlimited rice pudding in his inauguration speeches. But at least Obama’s got a free pass for a year or so, I think. Then again, we gave one to Bush after 9/11 and look what happened… oh, and Jon Stewart compares Bush & Obama’s inauguration speeches

PS: Only real Doctor Who geeks will get this

On this almost historic day…

On this almost historic day…

Secret Asian Man

(It does have to be pointed out that 20 years from now, we’ll think of today in the same way we think of the Moon landings. Cool, but let’s get back to reality…)

Tearing up the rulebook on racism

Tearing up the rulebook on racism

Blimey. I really didn’t think America would elect a non-white person as President. I really didn’t think it was possible. The dice was stacked against him. After all:

– It’s a nation that voted twice for that international joke, Dubya. TWICE.
– A generation ago, I don’t think black people were even allowed to sit down in Washington D.C. ?
– There’s a national economic crisis. During a crisis, people’s usual instincts are to protect their own – hell, Britain’s cutting the numbers of immigrants it allows in because of the recession.
– Obama seems clever, intellectual, almost slightly aloof, not someone you could have a beer witha nd talk about the Sonics (or whatever). And when was the last time America elected a clever President?

So gosh darn it, now I can’t blame the lack of success in my life because I is not white. or black. On the other hand, one of my friends – who won’t date outside of her race – still wouldn’t shag Obama. So latent racism is still alive!

The more I read about Obama’s life, the more I’m amazed he got to Harvard, let alone anywhere else. Now he’s the US equivalent of Blair – arrives in office after almost a decade of slowly stagnated rule, with ludicrously high expectations. And it worked for Blair for a while – at least till Iraq happened.

And hey, maybe a re-assessment of America’s place in the world and a return to less consumer-ist times would mean things like the technically perfect, editorially disastrous and utterly pointless CNN hologram wouldn’t happen…

I almost want to say poor McCain. For a Republican candidate, he wasn’t that bad – he could have been a whole lot worse. But it sounds like the party lobby just strangled his maverickness at birth.

One great idea from the American presidental election

One great idea from the American presidental election

Obama and McCain in a US Presidential candidate funny face-off at the Alfred E Smith memorial dinner:

Admittedly, they probably had the best gag-meisters in the world working on their respective routines, but how did we let America steal the comedy crown? First Friends and now this. (I refuse to acknowledge The Office – it is the demon child of British Comedy which will one day be rightfully shunned by its peer group) I can’t help feeling a Brown vs Cameron comedy face-off would be incredibly dull, especially if this constitutes a Brown joke.

American mass debating…

American mass debating…

So I settled down to watch the American Presidential debating thing last night, and was wondering how long it would take for the first insult attempt to waft through the airwaves. It didn’t take long – McCain was barely out of the gate before the first volley appeared. They really ought to instigate a rule that you cannot bash the other candidate’s background or personality.

The British political parties keep resisting the idea of “American-style” TV debates, although I’m not too sure why. We’ve pretty much embraced the other parts of American political campaigning – the mass rally, snide political advertising… although from my memory of the last election, British political (non-TV ads) keep aimlessly bashing the other party. At least the American political TV ads over here give you reasons not to vote for Obama/McCain/section 6.

The opinion polls seem to show a rise in Obama’s standing – although naturally I can’t trust opinion polls. Especially after the British elections of 1992 which consistently reported people saying they were going to vote Labour, but they voted Tory in the end. Essentially, people were too ashamed of wanting to vote for the Tory party that promised tax cuts at the expense of the economy. I can’t help feeling in a gut instinct way that this is being mirrored in the opinion polls in the US – especially when the only election graffiti I’ve seen was in a toilet at Detroit airport with a crude rude caricature of Obama.

And was it just me, or did McCain walk around as if he was a puppet? Very stiff, Frankenstein-like. And the only person he tried to ‘physically connect’ to was a soldier. Does he do that to every soldier he meets? It makes it seem like joining the military is the biggest country golf club in the world. (Then again, Obama didn’t touch anyone at all if memory serves)

The British elections are going to be so tediously dull. If only because for Labour to win would take a miracle at this point, I fear.

Barack Obama – just too much change for America?

Barack Obama – just too much change for America?

In 2008, as America faces an economic downturn and recession with military forces overseas, America seems to have two choices. To stick with the current administration that’s now governing over the recession, or go for an unusual candidate promising radical change, including a withdrawal of military forces.

In 1983, as Britain faced an economic downturn and recession with military forces overseas, Britain had two choices. To stick with the then-administration (Margaret Thatcher) that was governing over the recession, or go for an unusual candidate promising radical change, including a withdrawal of nuclear military forces. Britain voted overwhelmingly for the then-current administration.

There are – obviously – huge differences between the two situations, not least of which that Michael Foot was as old as John McCain at the time, and Margaret Thatcher was as significant as Barack Obama in terms of unusual background for a political leader.

Or there’s this comparison:

In 2008, in an environment where there was a perceived need for change, Barack Obama, the leading opposition candidate for the forthcoming election took to the stage in a huge sports arena, preceded by a rally with performances from key celebrities and music artists. The speech had huge media coverage.

In 1992 Britain, in an environment where there was a perceived need for change, Neil Kinnock, the leading opposition candidate for the forthcoming election took to the stage in a huge sports arena, preceded by a rally with performances from key celebrities and music artists. The speech had huge media coverage. Labour went on to lose an election many commentators had thought they would win.

I just cannot see an electorate that voted for Dubya twice in 2000 and 2004 voting for a black man, no matter how charismatic and invigorating he is. Plus, even I have to cut’n’paste his name from a news article to get the spelling right, lest I confuse him with another infamous character with a similar name Or am I underestimating the American public from 6000 miles away? Who knows…

Obama the llama

Obama the llama

I may be tired, slightly irritable (well, you try having your parents stay for a week and you sleeping in the living room on the sofa with one of their friends) but for some reason, I can’t stop dwelling on the notion that Barrack Obama may have won the Democratic nomination.

Simply because I cannot believe
– a nation that managed to vote for Dubya *twice*, is ever going to elect Obama as President. Which basically means the most powerful man in the world could well end up being a 73-year-old military veteran. Which is not good news.
– which basically means the Democrats have basically handed over the Presidency to yet another warmonger. Obama may be the right candidate, but he’s not going to be the one who wins
– surely everyone who’s voted in the primaries is already a Democrat nominee. So why is the UK press so keen on splashing the fact that members of a foreign political party have chosen their next presidential candidate …
– what on earth does Obama stand for? What are his policies? I am reminded of the character in a Stephen King novel who came to power vaguely promising great change, and then promptly starting a war… (then again, I guess the same can be said for Clinton. All political rhetoric and inspirational self-selling speeches as opposed to policies)
-why am I more interested in US domestic politics than UK domestic politics (again!)?

More importantly, thanks to my sister getting married, I seem to have missed the chance to be part of the last Circle Line pub crawl on the London Underground. and more importantly, the chance to cameo on the Daily Show.

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