Category Archives: Obama 08

Exit Obama 08, Enter Obama 44

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It’s time to close the Obama 08 section and open the new Obama 44 one. It’s been fun and historic, but it’s over.

As a caveat, let me say that it was never my intention to turn this into a political blog. I hope to continue my main focus on daily digressions, commentary on literature, Jazz (i.e., right now I’m listening to Straight Ahead by Oliver Nelson with Eric Dolphy), living abroad and other things that interest me, including politics. As mentioned, anything that has to do with the 44th President of the United States, good or bad, will now go under Obama 44.

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The Moment

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Ever since Obama won the elections and masses of Americans celebrated in the streets, I have been thinking about the moment’s duality: on the one hand, people poured into the streets to reclaim their nation’s identity (in light of everything, justifiably or not, the Bush Administration came to symbolize) and the almost indescribable historic jubilation in electing the country’s first ever African American president.

Then on Wednesday over a sandwich, I was reading “La (r)evolución de B. H. O.” in El Pais by M. Á. Bastenier. Bastenier tries to make the argument that Obama’s victory was not really turning point in American race relations but merely reflected a change in the country’s electoral landscape. In a complete misunderstanding of the American reality and a misinterpretation of the numbers, Bastenier writes that it is unclear whether Obama’s victory signifies an important shift in how Americans view race because (i) Obama received the same percentage of votes from whites as did Kerry in 2004, and (ii) the balance was tipped in Obama’s favor with respect to Kerry’s loss in 2004, not because of white voters, but because of the change in the demographics of the American voters. In other words, Obama didn’t win because he got more whites to vote for him but because there was a higher number of Hispanic and African American voters.

Bastenier does admit that Obama did not lose white voters, but in saying so, he totally misses the point. All evidence, at least numeric, points to the fact that Obama’s candidacy was race neutral. White Americans were not divided by racial prejudice but by political preference. In other words, people didn’t vote for or against Obama because he was black; rather they voted based on how they viewed the world politically. Thus, a white Republican vote was not a statement of racial prejudice, nor was a Democrat vote one of racial affirmation. The changing ethnic make-up of the American electorate is a reality that both parties, especially now the Republicans, will have to face in upcoming elections. Nevertheless, the fact that white voters — though their majority is decreasing — did not vote differently for a black Democrat this year than they did for a white one in 2004, is historically important. It means that the majority of Americans vote colorblind.

This, in fact, is the irony of the election. At the moment Obama’s victory was announced, as reflected in John McCain’s very moving concession speech, the historical importance was so great that all Americans, regardless of who they voted for, could partake in the groundbreaking moment. Had the election been nothing more than a mere referedum on race, then only one side could celebrate.

To educate Mr. Bastenier, the weary, or anyone else who is not familiar with American history, just take a look at the photo of the First Family-elect, listen to what Congressman John Lewis had to say a few hours before the results came on Election Night, or take the time to read these words from Bill Moyers’ essay about the watershed moment, Continue reading

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Closure

I am still looking for some closure after the historic moment on Tuesday night. While Obama has his transition team in full battle gear, I am stuck in my own transition phase to post-election life.

I was hoping to write something profound, wrapping everything up like in Frank Rich’s article in today’s New York Times. Then my friend, Teo, very subtly sent me this video saying that its time to move on.

Now that we have a president-elect, we should reflect on how poorly the American people and press scrutinized George W. Bush during his reign in office, especially the first term. No matter how popular the new president may be, we should always keep him in order.

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The False Prophecy and a Little Irony

Remember them Super Delegates? Back when change had trumped experience and the numbers pointed in only one direction, Hillary Clinton made a plea to the Super Delegates to ignore the math and consider her prophecy: Barack Obama was unelectable. White women wouldn’t vote for him, Hispanics wouldn’t vote for him, and as Bill Clinton said, “hard-working Americans, white Americans” wouldn’t vote for him. Then there were the big states like Pennsylvania and Ohio that only Hillary could carry. And finally, by following the Democratic Party rules, Michigan and Florida would surely go to the Republicans.

There was a moment, after McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, when everyone questioned whether Obama should have picked Hillary (though I stuck to my original position that she was too divisive for Obama’s message). For all of Billary’s cynicism, I am proud to say that Americans proved the duo wrong. Obama dominated the female vote, held his own with the white male vote, and prevailed in the keys states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Colorado. He took Michigan and Florida, and even stole Virginia and possibly North Carolina. Party unity? Not a problem, even with Bill and Hillary barely breaking a sweat.

There is even a little irony in the prophecy that Obama was unelectable because he was not vetted. Hillary’s negative attacks solved that problem, and there is a strong argument that the net effect of the Billary smears only made Obama stronger and more resilient for the general election. By the time McCain Palin were palling around Billary’s sludge, the American people had already made up their minds about Obama.

After all the prophetic claims of unelectablility, Obama went on to become the first Democrat to win more than fifty percent of the vote in a presidential election since Jimmy Carter. So much for prophecies. Continue reading

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The Media Elite

Off the plane on her return to Alaska, Sarah Palin complained about the press’ gotcha tactics and the mainstream media elite conspiracy against her. It looks like Fox News was just inducted into the mainstream media elite club. Or maybe it is just mainstream to see through Sarah Palin.

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A Very Moving and Moved McCain

John McCain gave an elegant concession speech; unfortunately for him, his campaign wasn’t nearly as elegant. But, what a wonderful lesson he gave us all, especially in his kind words about Obama’s recently deceased grandmother. Last night, John McCain stepped up to and was visibly moved by the historic moment. He graciously and honorably became part of what we have always wanted to be.

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My Election Night on Spanish Talk Radio

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Last night I had the unique opportunity to speak, unofficially, in support of Barack Obama’s candidacy on a popular Spanish talk radio show hosted by César Vidal. The program was La Linterna and the station was the very right wing COPE. As a matter of fact, while waiting in the booth minutes before going on, I was so surprised by some of the shocking claims coming from the next room —  for example that Obama would close the borders to all foreign trade or that FOX News was the only impartial news source in the U.S. — that I almost reconsidered going on.

But when I was finally up, Mr. Vidal and his regular troops (Florentino Portero, Javier Somalo, Gabriel Albiac, and the show’s production team) were extremely friendly and welcoming. I was also joined by two Republican women, one from Republicans Abroad and the other from Spain for McCain. At first, it was a little difficult to get my sea legs and feel totally comfortable expressing myself on the radio in Spanish, but eventually, I was ready for a good discussion. In listening to the above now, I must admit that I am incredibly embarrassed by my lack of eloquence (I don’t go on until around minute 30).

My goal from the beginning was to present an American voting public in support of Obama that was above the name calling and divisiness. While the woman from Republicans Abroad appeared to follow the same tone, the one from Spain for McCain was much more confrontational and accusatorial, also bringing up those absurd Obama shutting the U.S. borders claims and pushing McCain’s counter-intuitive fiscal stance. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to call her on the obvious facts: not only has Obama not proposed any such thing, but the Bush Administration with John McCain in the Senate has the worst record on trade protectionism and spending in recent history. But why bother; Americans have made up their minds, and today the McCain arguments are moot. Continue reading

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Filed under Living la vida española, Obama 08