As everyone else in the world is writing about Barack Obama’s election as US President, should Ramblings join the frenzy of scribbling or remain disdainfully aloof? Given that every newspaper carries massive coverage, and that samples were to be found scattered throughout the trains that bore me to work these past few days, I think it fair to say that this does fall within my brief.
There is a sense of similiarity with Tony Blair’s victory in 1997. A tired and discredited administration fell to a young and untried, but enthusiastic and charismatic, challenger free of much of his party’s historic baggage. Of course in 1997 John Major was standing for re-election whereas John McCain tried to put distance between himself and George W. Bush but it was not enough.
So will Obama live up to the massive weight of expectations? Of course not. Much as I disliked the late Enoch Powell, his quote “all political lives, unless they are cut-off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure” will surely apply. What Obama may be able to do is point the US in a different direction, away from confrontation and first use of force, and change the kneejerk hostililty of much of the world into a readiness to listen. He doesn’t look like a typical hard-faced, shoot first and ask questions later, anyone who is not for us is our enemy, white¸ American. Until he starts acting like one, this will count for much.
By the way, sorry about the pretentious title for this piece. But it got your attention, didn't it?