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> Which candidate would best improve America's image abroad?, Is USA's popularity important, and if so, which candidate for prez
Candidate to improve our image
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drewyorktimes
post Jan 10 2008, 09:53 PM
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This debate started in the Hillary Clinton thread, which I will link right here.

Economics seems to have nudged the war off the issues table for the moment, but I think that's only because we're in a primary, and everybody except Ron Paul agrees with the folks their competing with. On the democratic side, the only question is 'when did you oppose the war,' and 'how much.'

But I suspect, come convention time, there is going to bubble up a gargantuan and heated debate about Americas role in the world, in part because the Bush years involved a willful refusal to think too hard about it. Even John Kerry's description of the war as the "wrong war, wrong place" or whatever, left a lot of questions undiscussed. Which leads me to my questions:

Generally speaking, which of candidates would be best for America's image in Europe and why?

In the Muslim World?

In Africa?

Asia?

Latin America?

How important is it to you that our president possesses knowledge and understanding of how to improve our popularity with cultures beyond our borders, and consequently, who then are you supporting?

Are we mistaken to value our country's popularity abroad?



Just wanted to note: don't forget the guys we don't talk about much here, like Huckabee... from Latin America, to Asia, to Africa, evangelical movements have had decades of explosive growth. There's a reason Pat Robertson chatters on about international affairs -- his movement is one of the most ideologically united international organizations that has ever existed.
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aevans176
post Jan 10 2008, 10:55 PM
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QUOTE(drewyorktimes @ Jan 10 2008, 04:53 PM) *
Generally speaking, which of candidates would be best for America's image in Europe and why?



I'll make this very simple from both personal experience and historical context.
1. People in the Middle East didn't create Al Qaeda and attack on 9/11 because of George Bush. Our unpopularity is very largely tied to our support of Israel and our capitalism encroaching on their culture. Think of the ideas that we were attacked by Al Qaeda 5 times during the Clinton administration. Most liberals think Clinton was very well liked by the world.

2. Europeans like us when the financial means justify the end. The French have never liked us. Most people in the UK and Ireland like the US just fine, but may not be enthralled with GW, but is that the media's fault or our entire government's policy? Who decided to go to war? All of congress. Tony Blair drug them in.

3. Many Latin American countried DO love the US. Look at the millions of immigrants in the states. Take a trip to Sao Paulo or San Jose (Costa Rica). I've never had any issues, but most importantly we have the money and we're close. Don't get your global perspective from CNN.

I'll sum this up.

I've been mistreated abroad under more than one administration, and with my job I travel to Japan, Europe, and S. America (well, Mexico and Brazil). I also have taken personal trips to Costa Rica.

I don't think a President alone can change our image. Basically, our culture has to prove its worth and we have to reassert the strength of our economy to fix our image. Basically, many Europeans think poorly of us because they often speak better English than our kids do, and it's their 2nd language. They see that we live off fast-food and in my opinion relish in our own ignorance at times. Our foreign policy is a part of it, but true to form, most people don't know that our President isn't the sole holder to the keys of the military. In this case, GW is a scape goat. He has a southern accent and was in the White House when the Iraq war happened.

I sat at a bar a couple of blocks down from the Michaelangelo Hotel in Rome (near the Vatican) and drank beer with my wife and 4 men from Ireland last summer. We shared our love of Nastro Azzurro, but some of the guys were completely anti-GW. Why? They blame Iraq on him (*AHEM*... like many liberals). They had no idea that congress voted to go to war. They weren't drinking the "Bush lied men died Kool Aid", but did think that he pulled the trigger and the war happened. (Note- They also blamed Tony Blair for their neighbors in the UK going too).

If we want the US to have a better image, we need to clean up our act and stop being so dang... well... American.

We need to learn a little of a language before we travel. How many Americans go to Spain and don't speak Spanish? Rome and Italian?

How many Americans do business and automatically expect the person on the other end of the line to speak English?

For instance, what would've happened had we gone in after the Russians left Afghanistan and helped rebuild the country? Well- you'd have a generation of pro-American Afghans probably.

Finally, if we want a President to help improve our image, he/she has to be able to develop a stronger dollar and ensure that companies in other nations get rich off the US like they used to. Why do you think companies in Germany used to LOVE Americans? Well... it's simple. The Deutchmark (sp?) was weak and they could sell products to dumb Americans and make a killing.

It sure as heck helps...

This post has been edited by aevans176: Jan 10 2008, 10:56 PM
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Julian
post Jan 10 2008, 10:58 PM
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Hard to say from outside, because most of the foreign policy talk that I've heard so far has been limited to Iraq and Afghanistan. Understandably, sine they are hot conflicts involving US troops, but it's hard to say what Ron Paul or Fred Thompson's policies towards the EU on trade, towards global warming treaties, or towards Chavez-led Venezuela (to pluck a few random issues that probably resonate a lot more outside the USA, and outside this campaign so far, than they do inside).

Generally speaking, which of candidates would be best for America's image in Europe and why?

1. It would have to be a Democrat, because mainstram politics in Europe is still, despite some movement away from the political left (e.g. Sarkozy coming to power in France), way to the left of mainstream politics in the US. No republican candidate is really on the European radar so far - it is still early, mind you - except maybe Giuliani.
2. The biggest signal to the outside world that the USA has changed would be to do elect someone who looks radically different from GWB. That means Obama and/or Hillary (my own preference would be for President Obama with VP Clinton).

Why Obama? I think he would be a peacemaking president more than a sabre rattler. As well as the obvious physical conflicts, that most of Europe has opposed, Bush has overseen some longstanding arguments with the EU over trade, with green-leaning countries around the world over Kyoto and it's ilk, etc. I think a change of pace to someone who (apparently, and so far) seeks consensus rather than conflict by insticnt would be welcomed, even if the outcome of negotiations didn't always favour the interests of those being negotated with.

But then almost anyone would be flattered by the contrast with What Has Gone Before, at least in mainstream European eyes.

In the Muslim World?

Obama. He's nearly one of them - at least that what they might think. They'd be wrong if they thought that would give a free pass, but at least (some of) the Muslim world's leaders might feel able to make a case with words rather than bombers. It remains to be seen how great a change that would be, at either end, however. I doubt any US President will ever say "no, you were right all along. Sorry, our bad." And there will still be maniacs for whom nothing short of the conversion or execution of every kuffir will be enough.

I hope whoever does get into power uses that power more even handedly - I don't want another US president (or another UK government) that ignores the nationality of most of the murderers of 3,000+ civilians on US soil (or that cans a bribery investigation) because he's golf buddies with one of the princes (or because a factory in a marginal seat might have to close if the people being investigated throw their rattles out of them prams).

In Africa?

Obama again, and again because he's "nearly one of them". This time, though, there'd be more reason to think this way. I reckon that during the next US presidential term, the USA will sit up and pay attention to the huge amount of influence (and in return, first-comer resource advantages) the Chinese are gaining all over the continent by the simple expedient of giving unconditional aid and investment, rather than being all neocolonial and saying "you can have X if you agreed to open your markets to our businesses" or "you can have Y as long as you don't mention condoms or other birth control to your AIDS-riddled and meteorically-rising population, because God wouldn't approve".

Asia?

As far as most of East and South Asia goes, I don't think they'll mind too much as long as no new trade barriers get thrown up by the new incumbent. The Russians won't mind too much as long as whoever gets in is a little more conciliatory and either backs off on missile defence or extends the umbrella to include Russia (I think the latter would be the most workable solution - even though I don't think the system itself is anything more than a white elephant).

Latin America?

If whoever gets into power breaks the habit of the past century or more and stops treating the continent like the USA's "backyard" and starts treating them as sovereign states with their own rights and privileges (and responsibilities), I don't think they'll much care. If you end up electing someone who won't rock the commercial and foreign policy boat (i.e. almost anyone on the candidate list) then South America's attitudes won't change very much.

How important is it to you that our president possesses knowledge and understanding of how to improve our popularity with cultures beyond our borders, and consequently, who then are you supporting?

Some visible and expressed knowledge and understanding of the world outside US borders would be a good start and would, on it's own, make the US vastly more popular than it has been under Bush; Clinton (Bill) was very popular outside the USA, especially in Europe. Again, on this score, Obama and Clinton (Hillary) are the only candidates to score.

For my money, and in my lifetime, the only Republican who'd stand a cat-in-hell's chance of enhancing America's reputation in the wider world would be Schwarzenegger, and we all know he'd need a constitutional amendment before he could ever stand.

Are we mistaken to value our country's popularity abroad?

Not at all. America needs to buy stuff from outside, and sell stuff to outside - isolationism wasn't a workable solution in the 18th and 19th centuries, and in the 21st it is a self-indulgent pipedream. Sometimes there will be points of principle where the immediate self-interests of the USA (or any other nation) should be subsumed for the greater good. I'm not calling for removal of soveriegn powers, here - it has to be governments, ideally elected ones, that make those decisions.

Just for a little enlightened self-interest now and again, that realises that sometimes the benefits may not be realised within a single electoral cycle, or may only store up a bank of goodwill to be drawn on in case of emergency. (Good luck on that one, though - I don't know of many governments anywhere on the planet that are fully committed to that idea!)


All of that said, however, you would be mistaken if you put too much value on external popularity - the State Department is not the only Department of State.

EDITED TO ADD:
I started posting and took a long time doing it, so missed aevans176. I have to say that all of his points are valid too. It just isn't possible to say "Europe thinks such-and-such" or "South America wants America to do so-and-so" any more than it is to say "America thinks ..."

More than anything, though - and I speak on behalf of the entire non-American world here mrsparkle.gif - we want America to elect someone who does do nuance.

This post has been edited by Julian: Jan 10 2008, 11:03 PM
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drewyorktimes
post Jan 11 2008, 12:04 AM
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QUOTE
1. People in the Middle East didn't create Al Qaeda and attack on 9/11 because of George Bush. Our unpopularity is very largely tied to our support of Israel and our capitalism encroaching on their culture. Think of the ideas that we were attacked by Al Qaeda 5 times during the Clinton administration. Most liberals think Clinton was very well liked by the world.


Of course not. George W. Bush didn't create liberals, either, and Bill Clinton didn't give birth to Rush Limbaugh... just gave him ammunition. I'm not some daffodil-picking Jane Fonda insisting we have to be adored by middle eastern masses, but it would be nice of our president made himself a less needlessly glaring target of AQ propaganda. I agree with Julian, there will always be extremist who want to take down america regardless of whose face represents it... but I have to feel, from my distance, that an Obama presidency, or even a Hillary Clinton presidency would shake up perceptions of us in the larger middle eastern community, and hopefully help us with those all-important "moderates" sunny couch strategists like Thomas Freidman are always pining about.

I'm not saying we should vote purely on image... policy matters, but image matters, too and the way America or any nation presents itself to the world is a mix of image and policy.

QUOTE
2. Europeans like us when the financial means justify the end. The French have never liked us. Most people in the UK and Ireland like the US just fine, but may not be enthralled with GW, but is that the media's fault or our entire government's policy? Who decided to go to war? All of congress. Tony Blair drug them in.


Too true, but Bush was the salesman of that war -- the task of getting Europeans on board fell to him. A more diplomatic president with better ties to Europe -- say Eisenhower or Truman -- might have been able to better sell European leaders and citizens alike on the necessity of the war. Or maybe not. It's possible that the war was just a bad sell, an ice to eskimos proposition, but presuming their is some underlying logic behind it, I don't think Bush has been very good at conveying it to the outside world, specifically Western continental Europe. You can't blame a car salesman for every family that decides to wait another year, but at the end of the month, if your only significant sale is Tony Blair, there's a problem with the guy making the pitch.

After all, his father did it.


QUOTE
3. Many Latin American countried DO love the US. Look at the millions of immigrants in the states. Take a trip to Sao Paulo or San Jose (Costa Rica). I've never had any issues, but most importantly we have the money and we're close. Don't get your global perspective from CNN.


I don't get my global perspective from CNN... more BBC. I just wanted to say here that none of this thread should be built around the notion that we are deeply and everywhere unpopular, because that is simply not true. Pro-American sentiment is ubiquitous in this day and age... I don't think any one nation has produced so much entertainment for so many other people in the history of the universe.

I know the archetypal liberal isn't supposed to say that... he or she is supposed to grumble about unfair rice subsidiaries and corporate super-highways. But I've met too many people with too many schemes to come to America to be that "archetype."

QUOTE
It just isn't possible to say "Europe thinks such-and-such" or "South America wants America to do so-and-so" any more than it is to say "America thinks ..."


Of course not, I agree. However, I decided to do things continentally because I think we have a tendency to conceptualize of the outside world as a place that starts in Europe and ends in fire, in the middle east. So much of our foreign policy deals with those two areas, its easy to overlook a place like Kenya or Myanmar until conflict strikes. You raised good points about Asian trade agreements, and the influence of the chinese in Africa, and i hope future posters will tease those ideas out.
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moif
post Jan 11 2008, 01:16 AM
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Generally speaking, which of candidates would be best for America's image in Europe and why?

Barak Obama. Because he isn't white.

I heard a political radio programme from the BBC a few days ago where four political panelists were asked by the audience, who they would like to see in office. Obama was the clear favourite. When asked why, the answer given was because he was an 'exciting candidate'.

The European political elite, especially the left, are falling over themselves fawning over the notion of a non white president in the White House. Hillary Clinton, who was the previous favourite for being a woman, has been largely pushed aside.

Again and again I hear people describing Barack Obama as the new man, a fresh start, a chance to begin again. I've not heard one single person speak of his policies, or what he actually stands for or just how suitable is he to run the USA? His charm, and above all, his ethnic credentials are all that seem to matter.


In the Muslim World?

Barack Obama. Because he isn't white and he isn't a woman.


In Africa?

Barack Obama. Because he isn't white and he isn't a woman.


Asia?

I doubt the Asian country's really care.


Latin America?

Barack Obama. Because he isn't white so no more 'Gringo go home'.


Are we mistaken to value our country's popularity abroad?

Despite Julians plea for nuance, I can't see that matters one way or another whether or not the USA has a 'nuanced president'. Clinton could do nuance but it didn't help his country's popularity in Europe much. I listened to endless anti American rants when I lived in the UK during Clinton's years and I don't buy for a second the argument that GW Bush caused the explosion of anti American hatred. It was just as evident to me all the way back during Reagan's years in office. Personally I don't give a toss about nuance in politicians. It seems to me that 'nuanced' is just another way of saying 'liar'. Tony Blair was nuanced.

It won't really matter that you have a 'non white' president either, not in the long run.

America should stick to its principles, if indeed it can decide just what those are.
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nighttimer
post Jan 11 2008, 11:10 AM
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QUOTE(moif @ Jan 10 2008, 08:16 PM) *
I heard a political radio programme from the BBC a few days ago where four political panelists were asked by the audience, who they would like to see in office. Obama was the clear favourite. When asked why, the answer given was because he was an 'exciting candidate'.

The European political elite, especially the left, are falling over themselves fawning over the notion of a non white president in the White House. Hillary Clinton, who was the previous favourite for being a woman, has been largely pushed aside.

Again and again I hear people describing Barack Obama as the new man, a fresh start, a chance to begin again. I've not heard one single person speak of his policies, or what he actually stands for or just how suitable is he to run the USA? His charm, and above all, his ethnic credentials are all that seem to matter.

It won't really matter that you have a 'non white' president either, not in the long run.

America should stick to its principles, if indeed it can decide just what those are.


Moif, typically you bring a level of depth and thought to your posts that can't be disputed even if I disagree with the conclusions. Here you just seem to be going off on a tangent.

America is sticking to its principles and among those principles is that the political process is open, diverse and inclusive. The very likely fact that the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party is likely going to be a woman or minority speaks volumes of how far both gender and race are not impediments to becoming the President of the United States.

Maybe that doesn't impress you much, but I know some kids over here who see it differently.

After such a cynical post, I wonder if you're really interested in Barack Obama's policy statements and stances, but on the off chance you are, I've provided a few links for your edification.

link

link 2

link 3

Oh, and not to put too fine of a point on it, but technically speaking, Barack Obama isn't Black. He's Black and White. He self-identifies as a Black man, but he doesn't emphasize it either. People who don't care for him sure seem to though.
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moif
post Jan 11 2008, 11:54 AM
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Nighttimer.

It may seem like a tangent to you, but I can assure you I am being honest. I do not like popular politicians who come out of no where and whose appeal is based on being 'exciting'. I prefer politicians who have been around for a while so I can weigh them in the balance and see what they really stand for (and I don't mean the talking points they post on their web page). Barack Obama may, or may not be the right person for the job, I can't say for sure, because I simply haven't seen or heard any serious debates regarding his potential and he's not been in the public view long enough for me to have formed an opinion any other way. The same was true for GW Bush when he was first appointed as a candidate for the presidency. I didn't like him either (still don't) because he was a relatively unknown factor.

All I've seen and heard with regards to Obama is alot of talk about his charm, appeal, charisma and skin colour and whilst you might argue that people who don't care for him seem to make a fuss about his ethnic identity, my experience has been the exact oppositie. Its his suporters whose focus on his ethnic identity have been noticable to me. Indeed, I've not really seen much debate at all about the man from those who who oppose him because over here there are none.

Would you have even bothered to reply to me if I'd said Hillary Clinton was the most popular choice outside of the USA? I doubt it. Please don't try to pretend that Barak Obama's skin tone means nothing to you what so ever and that you just want 'a change'. In another thread you've said that it was 'his time'. Thats a poetic way of side stepping what your really saying, that its time there was some one who looked like you in the White House (also words you've used I believe).

Now thats fair enough. More power to you and Barack Obama. Personally I'd probably vote for McCain since he seems to me to be the lesser of the many evils on offer, but I'm not adverse to a black or female president (or even both at the same time) providing I know they can do the job well. My instincts tell me Obama is an unknown factor that could swing either way. He could be brilliant, or like the current president, he could be a disaster.

The topic asks which candidate will be most popular outside of the USA however and I believe I've answered that as candidly as I can. If you take exception to my conclusions then please feel free to explain why. From what I've read and heard, mostly from the BBC's various organs, but also online and in the Danish media, Barack Obama is globally regarded with the same vapid justifications as seem to characterize his supporters. He represents a sense of 'change' that if pressed for clarification means he is popular because he is not an 'old white man'. I've not heard one single person argue that he is qualified for the job because he is capable of actually doing a good job as the president of the USA.

Unfortunately, the low standard left by GW Bush means that if elected, Barack Obama will not even have to perform very well in order to be proclaimed a success and that means that he could be a popular president even whilst he screws everything up.

This post has been edited by moif: Jan 11 2008, 11:58 AM
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nighttimer
post Jan 11 2008, 01:42 PM
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QUOTE(moif @ Jan 11 2008, 06:54 AM) *
Would you have even bothered to reply to me if I'd said Hillary Clinton was the most popular choice outside of the USA? I doubt it. Please don't try to pretend that Barak Obama's skin tone means nothing to you what so ever and that you just want 'a change'. In another thread you've said that it was 'his time'. Thats a poetic way of side stepping what your really saying, that its time there was some one who looked like you in the White House (also words you've used I believe).


That's a odd question coming from someone whom in the past has thrown out hypothetical situations such as, "Would you have commented if this were about a White person?" during the Don Imus debate. I don't know if I would have replied to a Hillary Clinton scenario. Guess it would have depended on how you posed the analysis and if it were as reductio ad absurdum as your "Barack Obama. Because he isn't white and he isn't a woman" one-liner.

Words are subject to interpretation and when you try to delve into mine for a deeper meaning and context as you often do when you say I'm "side-stepping what you're really saying" that is your interpretation and yours alone. I neither confirm nor deny it. I know what I said and I stand by it. Plumb the depths for a hidden agenda to your heart's content.

I never said Barack Obama's skin tone means nothing to me whatsoever. Once again, I am not here to affirm your assertions.

I have supported Black presidential candidates before (Jesse Jackson) and not supported Black presidential candidates (Al Sharpton, Carole Mosely Braun, Alan Keyes). I have supported White candidates over Black candidates in my voting life. Nobody makes an issue when Black people vote for White politicians. Why is there one when Black voters support Black politicians? How is it when White voters vote for White candidates they're just making a choice but when Black voters vote for Black candidates it's a litmus test of racial loyalty? Why the double standard, Moif?

QUOTE
Barack Obama is globally regarded with the same vapid justifications as seem to characterize his supporters. He represents a sense of 'change' that if pressed for clarification means he is popular because he is not an 'old white man'. I've not heard one single person argue that he is qualified for the job because he is capable of actually doing a good job as the president of the USA.


If that is the case, then I would suggest it is you that is "vapid" if you choose not to do the research and educate yourself further into what does or does not qualify Obama to become the next President of the United States. With all due respect to the BBC, if that's all you've limited your information about the Senator to, you haven't nearly done enough to develop a well-informed perspective. As it is, you seem to be suggesting Obama would be awarded the presidency as a affirmative action hire.
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moif
post Jan 11 2008, 04:12 PM
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QUOTE(nighttimer)
That's a odd question coming from someone whom in the past has thrown out hypothetical situations such as, "Would you have commented if this were about a White person?" during the Don Imus debate. I don't know if I would have replied to a Hillary Clinton scenario. Guess it would have depended on how you posed the analysis and if it were as reductio ad absurdum as your "Barack Obama. Because he isn't white and he isn't a woman" one-liner.
Well, as I already said, if you take exception to my conclusions then please feel free to explain why. If you have examples of Muslims or Africans expressing any desire to see another white guy, or a woman in the White House then I'd love to read it. So far, I've not seen anything of the sort, where as I have seen enthusiasm expressed at the possiblity of Barack Obama (described by such people as an 'African' or as a 'black man') being elected as president of the USA, thus my answer which mean while, remains unchallenged.


QUOTE(nighttimer)
Words are subject to interpretation and when you try to delve into mine for a deeper meaning and context as you often do when you say I'm "side-stepping what you're really saying" that is your interpretation and yours alone. I neither confirm nor deny it. I know what I said and I stand by it. Plumb the depths for a hidden agenda to your heart's content.
No thanks.


QUOTE(nighttimer)
I have supported Black presidential candidates before (Jesse Jackson) and not supported Black presidential candidates (Al Sharpton, Carole Mosely Braun, Alan Keyes). I have supported White candidates over Black candidates in my voting life. Nobody makes an issue when Black people vote for White politicians. Why is there one when Black voters support Black politicians? How is it when White voters vote for White candidates they're just making a choice but when Black voters vote for Black candidates it's a litmus test of racial loyalty? Why the double standard, Moif?
I'm not aware of any 'double standard'. People can vote for whom so ever they wish and I'll defend their right to do so. My problems with Barack Obama do not stem from his skin tone but from his relative obscurity and the lack of any serious public debate regarding his ability to do the job.


QUOTE(nighttimer)
If that is the case, then I would suggest it is you that is "vapid" if you choose not to do the research and educate yourself further into what does or does not qualify Obama to become the next President of the United States. With all due respect to the BBC, if that's all you've limited your information about the Senator to, you haven't nearly done enough to develop a well-informed perspective. As it is, you seem to be suggesting Obama would be awarded the presidency as a affirmative action hire.
I'm sorry NT but how does my level of research impact on the arguments made for Obama by his supporters?

No matter how much research I do will not change the fact that his supporters talk him up as 'a new change', or 'an exciting candidate' without much argument as to why exactly they think he is a new change or an exciting candidate beyond the fact that he isn't a 'white man'.

Bear in mind I am not speaking of domestic American supporters now (these are harder to engage for outsiders), I'm refering to global supporters, those to whom the topic refers. I've read and heard several debates on the US election and the support for Barack Obama (who may indeed be a good candidate) that do not correspond to his actual ability to the do the job, but rather on his ethnic identity.

This post has been edited by moif: Jan 11 2008, 04:15 PM
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logophage
post Jan 11 2008, 07:32 PM
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QUOTE(moif @ Jan 11 2008, 08:12 AM) *
No matter how much research I do will not change the fact that his supporters talk him up as 'a new change', or 'an exciting candidate' without much argument as to why exactly they think he is a new change or an exciting candidate beyond the fact that he isn't a 'white man'.

To be fair, moif, while I largely agree with your read on the "candidate of change" cheered by Obama supporters, I believe this has little to do with his skin color or ethnicity. Obama is viewed as the candidate of change because: he is young; he is a great orator; and he's new on the political stage. Just look at the turn out of young voters in the Iowa caucus.

QUOTE
Bear in mind I am not speaking of domestic American supporters now (these are harder to engage for outsiders), I'm refering to global supporters, those to whom the topic refers. I've read and heard several debates on the US election and the support for Barack Obama (who may indeed be a good candidate) that do not correspond to his actual ability to the do the job, but rather on his ethnic identity.

You may be right here. I don't have a good read on the international front. Though, since this debate is specifically about America's image abroad, on the Democratic front is there another candidate who is viewed more positively?
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post Jan 11 2008, 10:37 PM
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Moif:

QUOTE
barack Obama may, or may not be the right person for the job, I can't say for sure, because I simply haven't seen or heard any serious debates regarding his potential and he's not been in the public view long enough for me to have formed an opinion any other way.


I just want to say this: I am tired of the crowd wondering "where's the beef" with Barack Obama.

I have seen substantive debate regarding Barack Obama's voting record and experience... it was on the Tavis Smiley show, when he first declared his candidacy. Then again, all summer long when Jim Leher interviewed Obama's various foreign policy advisors.

The problem is, the mainstream media never asks "where's the beef" about anyone. They spend a collective decade's worth of airtime discected Hillary's "tears" moment, and another decade debating why she isnt likeable, then another decade asking "are white voters ready for a Black president," then another decade wondering if Rudy's "late state strategy" will work, then another decade wondering if voters are seeking "Change or experience," then they spend another decade reading the new hampshire tea leaves only to be proven laughably wrong, and at the end of all that feckless and inconclusive coverage, the same exact hairpieces/anchors say something along the lines of "Barack Obama has the message and the excitement to rally voters. But does he have a substantive platform?"

Does Hillary have a substantive platform? Does Huckabee or Giuliani? Tell me what channel is debating John McCain's plan to pay for the next 100 years of american iraqi occupation, and I'll turn to it right now. Until then, the notion that Barack is somehow the lightweight candidate is hard to prove.

Fact is, Barack has taken leaps on Cuba, introducing a controversial lightening of the embargo in an editorial published in the Miami Heral, of all places. At a the very moment when Fidel is coughing up phlegm, I don't know anybody else's Cuba policy, except to keep up the embargo as is indefinitely.

As far as I can see, not one candidate has distanced his or her policy towards Iran from George W. Bush's, except for Barack and Ron Paul. Other than a few democratic-base pleasing pieties about "using diplomacy first," which mirror republican base pleasing pieties about "using force when necessary," nobody except Barack or Ron Paul has offered substantive policy towards Iran.

In regards to Pakistan, who has stepped up in a debate and said, "here's my platform on Pakistan"? Joe Biden, and Barack, that's who. The rest obliquely answer questions about supporting democracy and using diplomacy. Barack, by virtue of taking a controversial stance on Pakistan, has stepped up and offered his agenda.

On health care, Barack has been pushed into the position of defending his lack of a mandate again and again at every debate . Hillary consistently muddles over the gaps in her plan, clumsily suggesting that Barack's plan would leave out the arbitrarily-chosen number of 50 million Americans, which I find hard to believe. Meanwhile, how is she going to enforce her mandate? Why is that mandate necessary? What will the punishment be for repeatedly refusing to get health care, under Hillary Clinton? All questions no one has asked or answered.

You can disagree with Barack on any of the above positions. You can think that mandates are an important art of universal health care, you can think that the Bush doctrine is best for Iran, and you can support the embargo until the end of time. But at least Barack has offered these positions for you to disagree with.
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post Jan 12 2008, 10:21 AM
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QUOTE(logophage)
You may be right here. I don't have a good read on the international front. Though, since this debate is specifically about America's image abroad, on the Democratic front is there another candidate who is viewed more positively?
Hillary Clinton used to be the darling of the left wing in Europe. I have no idea how many times I've read or heard people over here refer to her as the best thing in American politics since sliced bread, but its been a great many times. There was a feeling of almost certainty that she would be the next president... until that is Barack Obama suddenly appeared on our screens and people saw his popularity. Now every one is parroting this line about 'change', which has to be the oldest crock of you know what in politics.


QUOTE(drewyorktimes)
I just want to say this: I am tired of the crowd wondering "where's the beef" with Barack Obama.

I have seen substantive debate regarding Barack Obama's voting record and experience... it was on the Tavis Smiley show, when he first declared his candidacy. Then again, all summer long when Jim Leher interviewed Obama's various foreign policy advisors.
Check the title of the thread Drew. No one's ever heard of Tavis Smiley or Jim Leher over here. The topic asks which candidate will be most popular outside the USA and why, and I've told you who and why.

The fact is, people outside the USA are lapping up the 'fresh new beginning' rhetoric because Barack Obama is not white. The 'change' people see is the change of ethnic identity. A black man in the white house. Whether or not Barack Obama is up to the task is neither here nor there. No one can know that until they've seen the evidence of a President Obama.

And I'm not refering to dusty peasants in the horn of Africa or illiterate nomads in Sahara. I'm refering to well read, well educated, highly paid political commentators, interviewed on global communications news networks. When pressed as to why Obama is their choice, they speak loosely of the change he'll bring. When asked how he will change anything, they more often than not refer to his ethnic identity because the fact is, they can't actually dredge up any reason as to how Barack Obama is actually going to deliver any real changes.

And the thing is, reading whats been written here and else where by American Barak Obama supporters, neither can I. Apart from the usual plethora of political promises, and an admission that he'll talk to people GW Bush won't, I don't see anything to support the belief that Obama is going to deliver the change he is promising.

I do however see and read Americans saying its about time a non white man was in the white house and when asked about a woman in the white house they argue that they are tired of dynastic politics and don't want another Clinton.

Personally I find American politics, with its focus on personalities as opposed to policies to be comical. The idea that Obama is going to deliver something Clinton can't is laughable. They belong to the same political persuasion, they will have to work with the same party mandate behind them. The only differences I can see are cosmetic. Skin deep you might say. I do however think a womans perspective will be a greater change to American politics than another man's. No matter what colour his skin is.


QUOTE(drewyorktimes)
You can disagree with Barack on any of the above positions. You can think that mandates are an important art of universal health care, you can think that the Bush doctrine is best for Iran, and you can support the embargo until the end of time. But at least Barack has offered these positions for you to disagree with.
Wonderful, but as I said to NT, no one cares about his political promises except those who want to believe them. Most every politician who makes as many promises as you are saying Obama has done will find once he gets elected that his promises cannot be fulfilled because the world simply doesn't work like that. No one man (or woman) not even the prsident of hte USA has the sort of power to simply change everything about him without myriad consequences, many of which only come clear once the politician has taken office and ben introduced to the full complexity of the matters at hand.

Its this sort of promising-a-brighter-future that only adds to my suspicions regarding Barack Obama and really brings nothing new to the debate at hand. All it shows me is that Barack Obama is a noob.
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post Jan 12 2008, 05:59 PM
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QUOTE
No matter how much research I do will not change the fact that his supporters talk him up as 'a new change', or 'an exciting candidate' without much argument as to why exactly they think he is a new change or an exciting candidate beyond the fact that he isn't a 'white man'.

Excitement MOIF, thats really all he offers that is different from any of the others. The rest fail to appear as anything more than politicians. Even though Obama is also just a politician he has the ability to get many people a feeling that change is actually possible. Even when we know better.

Who really needs someone to change things for us anyways? Perhaps just by actually changing the political landcsape by removing --finally-- the Clinton taint from everything in America;depriving the rightwing of their goto excuse/justification for anything and everything, removing it as well from the Dems, we can begin to move forward out of the partisanship hell we currently have where things are done by one side Just to spite the other.
16 years has been long enough.
The people I hear who cannot escape mentioning race seem to be the type for who it is also a personal 'peeve'.
Usually very quick to say either 'There go the blacks again bringing up race' or 'you dont understand being black'. Among the older folks I suppose there is the desperate hope that we as a people have finally moved away from the bad ole days and are actually moving forward. Among the younger people, they are from my experience carrying much less of the older generations bigoted attitudes.
Most people cannot really point to concretes on why he is the better choice. For most of them he just is the better choice.
Does it make logical sense, C'mon MOIF you should know better by now. We're Americans, irrational is what we do.

As far as his race goes personally i agree with what Mrs. P stated in another thread
QUOTE
It's hard to come up with a good example, but there are a couple of small examples of 'universally accepted limiting paradigm' that i can think of at the moment which applied to most everyone on the planet. For decades, the four minute mile was considered an anatomical impossibility. There was no record of anyone in the history of the world obtaining that speed. But as soon as someone did, another person did it just a few short weeks later. Today so many have accomplished this goal that it isn't even considered incredible. No gymnast received a perfect 10 until Nadia Comaneci. Up until that time it was thought impossible. Right after, many began to receive it and now it isnt particularly extraordinary. Was every professional runner and/or gymnast before that time motivated to act against their own self-interest by a desire to preserve the "system" as is? Clearly gymnasts were practicing tirelessly before, and runners were training exhaustively. Human psychology is tricky. I think the accepted paradigms effected the performance of those runners and gymnasts, somehow. Once it was broken others were able to continue to break it. So on that note, per this topic, I predict that there will be more serious and competitive minority and female presidental candidates in our future. The Bradley effect is going to end soon.


Perhaps all Obama accomplishes if elected is this change. good enough for me. Small steps but big change indeed.
Republicans failed spectacularly to meet their claims of change while in charge. They actually succeeded in making the Dems look almost responsible. My candidate is Paul who snowball is about melted. So if I must be saddled with someone whose views are far from my own perhaps Obama can actually disrupt the current power brokers long enough for some new voices to be heard long enough to get a buzz. Maybe finally a few new interesting ideas fusing the 2 sides can gain some traction. even a small break in the limiting paradigms of today would be welcome.


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post Jan 13 2008, 01:58 AM
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QUOTE(moif @ Jan 12 2008, 05:21 AM) *
Check the title of the thread Drew. No one's ever heard of Tavis Smiley or Jim Leher over here. The topic asks which candidate will be most popular outside the USA and why, and I've told you who and why.

The fact is, people outside the USA are lapping up the 'fresh new beginning' rhetoric because Barack Obama is not white. The 'change' people see is the change of ethnic identity. A black man in the white house. Whether or not Barack Obama is up to the task is neither here nor there. No one can know that until they've seen the evidence of a President Obama.

And I'm not refering to dusty peasants in the horn of Africa or illiterate nomads in Sahara. I'm refering to well read, well educated, highly paid political commentators, interviewed on global communications news networks. When pressed as to why Obama is their choice, they speak loosely of the change he'll bring. When asked how he will change anything, they more often than not refer to his ethnic identity because the fact is, they can't actually dredge up any reason as to how Barack Obama is actually going to deliver any real changes.

And the thing is, reading whats been written here and else where by American Barak Obama supporters, neither can I. Apart from the usual plethora of political promises, and an admission that he'll talk to people GW Bush won't, I don't see anything to support the belief that Obama is going to deliver the change he is promising.

Its this sort of promising-a-brighter-future that only adds to my suspicions regarding Barack Obama and really brings nothing new to the debate at hand. All it shows me is that Barack Obama is a noob.


I believe you've established Moif that you don't think very highly of Barack Obama or his supporters. That's fine. There are other candidates you can choose from. You haven't though you did make some passing reference to voting for John McCain as the lesser of evils. Still, while you have made it clear Obama wouldn't improve America's image with you, I'd be interested to find out who you think would.

Unless you've lived for eight years directly under the dreary, depressing and downright incompetence that is George W. Bush, I would suggest you cannot really know how exciting and invigorating it can be to have someone that makes you feel positive about America and its potential to do great things. For some of us that is why we gravitate to Obama. Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee have also tapped into the desire for something other than "business as usual" politics and corporation approved candidates like Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

Every now and then, Americans like to vote for someone instead of always against. A subtle difference to be sure, but a critical one.

Furthermore, I don't necessarily believe you are the target audience overseas that it's most important for a President Barack Obama to reach out to. Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic Monthly suggests who that person might be:

What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. Such a re-branding is not trivialits central to an effective war strategy. The war on Islamist terror, after all, is two-pronged: a function of both hard power and soft power. We have seen the potential of hard power in removing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. We have also seen its inherent weaknesses in Iraq, and its profound limitations in winning a long war against radical Islam. The next president has to create a sophisticated and supple blend of soft and hard power to isolate the enemy, to fight where necessary, but also to create an ideological template that works to the Wests advantage over the long haul. There is simply no other candidate with the potential of Obama to do this. Which is where his face comes in.

Consider this hypothetical. Its November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this manBarack Hussein Obamais the new face of America. In one simple image, Americas soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obamas face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

link

If you want to dismiss Sullivan as just another pie-in-the-sky dreamer, I can understand it. I don't know if a President Barack Hussein Obama
speaking to the Muslim world about how the West is not the Great Satan defuses the hatred and animosity fanned by fanatics such as Osama bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I do know however that allowing them to monopolize the messages given to the Muslims can only lead to continued tension and hostility.

But if you believe Moif, that Obama is the wrong man sending the wrong message, please tell me who you think IS the right man.
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post Jan 13 2008, 12:46 PM
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Nighttimer.

My personal feelings are of no consequence in this topic. I have not got any real regard or disregard for Barack Obama, only reservations due to what I see as a certain ambiguity of character (meaning I don't know who he really is because a few months ago I'd never heard of him) and the way he is always talked up by his supporters as being 'a new change' (which so often translates to meaning a non white candidate). I do not consider race (or gender) to be a factor worth much consideration in my own political perspectives. I only care about policies and ideologies, so for a real change I would want something more than just a different ethnic identity. A real change to me would be something outside the heads or tails politics of the Democrat and Republican party's. I'd vote for Ayaan Hirsli Ali in a flash if she were to run for a job as MP in Denmark for example.


The rest of your last post, especially the Sullivan quote, seems odd to me, because essentially you are now agreeing with what I already wrote (that which you'd previously taken exception to)

QUOTE
Furthermore, I don't necessarily believe you are the target audience overseas that it's most important for a President Barack Obama to reach out to. Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic Monthly suggests who that person might be:

What does he offer? First and foremost: his face.

[snip]

Consider this hypothetical. It‚„s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man‚€Barack Hussein Obama‚€is the new face of America. In one simple image, America‚„s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama‚„s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.
Or in other words, as I wrote it;

Because he isn't white and he isn't a woman.


edited to add

It occurs to me as an after thought, and this is probably a bit OT, but if America was really as so many Americans would like to think, wouldn't there be another 'non white' candidate on offer? Its hard to compare Obama's potential with the other candidates because you can't avoid the racial aspect.

I guess what I mean to ask is; would Barack Obama really be so attractive if one or two other candidates were also 'non white'?

This post has been edited by moif: Jan 13 2008, 01:02 PM
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post Jan 13 2008, 04:39 PM
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I think there are some good points on both sides here but we might be more likely to understand one another better if we dug a bit deeper.

I mean I've noticed there hasn't been much focus on the underlying why question.

I agree that Barack's race has a lot to do with his overseas appeal but I suspect the reasons for this are not to be ignored.

I mean there are other non-white heads of state of course. They are simply in what are considered non-white countries.

I think the real question we must ask ourselves is: What exactly is so special about a black man leading a majority white country?

Change is part of the answer, but what kind of change?

My theory is that Obama represents the possibility that centuries of politics as a shady business closed except to the entrenched ethnic and economic power elite might be on the wane.

The idea that a black man might become president, unthinkable thirty or forty years ago suggests that the old-guard aristocracy may be releasing its death grip on the country.

I mean Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush.... and then possibly another Clinton?

It's a little depressing to think the presidency has become some kind of baton to be handed off to the VP or even the wife.

Obama represents the most radical departure possible from this pattern. Heck, when these guys grew up even thinking of being president would likely have been physically dangerous for a guy like Obama.

Of course, his experience was atypical to the average African-American, not a descendant of slaves, not raised in the inner-city or the South.

..but with long standing ties to the community which, for many, is close enough.

QUOTE(moif)
I guess what I mean to ask is; would Barack Obama really be so attractive if one or two other candidates were also 'non white'?

Bill Richardson was Hispanic though not dreadfully exciting or charismatic.

Still he's a great VP choice.

This post has been edited by turnea: Jan 13 2008, 04:42 PM
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post Jan 14 2008, 12:24 AM
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QUOTE(Turnea)
I think the real question we must ask ourselves is: What exactly is so special about a black man leading a majority white country?
Thats a good question, worthy of a debate unto itself.

I think the question ought to be considered further though; What exactly is so special about any man, or woman, from one ethnic group elected to leading a nation predominantly of another ethnicity? Guyana has a president of (Asian) Indian ethnicity, Bharrat Jagdeo who incidently was preceded by a US born 'white' woman; Janet Jagan, who was herself preceded by a 'black man'; Sam Hinds who was himself preceded by an ethnic (South American) Indian man; Cheddi Jagan. As far as I can see, this multi ethnic, gender mixed procession has not led to any great change in Guyana's fortune's. The current president is a socialist, which tells me that the country is probably in difficulties since socialists proliferate where ever there is misery.

You might even reverse the question and ask, what is so special about a white man being elected to lead a majority black country? ...and is that likely to ever happen? The richest 'majority black country' is South Africa, where the politics, and much of everything else as well, are looking decidedly shakier as the years go by. Would a white president ever be elected there or are we not looking at a few decades more of Zuma's and Mugabe's ruling Africa as tribal politics lashes back? Would a white president even be able to reverse the downward trend? I doubt it.

In America, what has to be 'special' about the possibility of a black man leading a majority white country is it gives Americans affirmation in the American dream (unless I am very much mistaken as to what that phrase is meant to mean).

I wonder though. Dreams are not reality. Will Barack Obama make any real change beyond the cosmetic?I've debated this with friends over here and no one believes for a minute that a democrat politician, what ever colour or gender they are, will be able to 'change America'. America is, or so it is perceived, monolithic; culturally, economically and politically. In the long run, there is nothing special about a black president who is still a member of the current political deadlock, the two party system.

Nighttimer made this point earlier; you cannot really know how exciting and invigorating it can be to have someone that makes you feel positive about America and its potential to do great things.

I feel really sorry for any one who feels that bad about their country. I can't empathise with it all. I love my country and I am proud of what we've accomplished, even though I am a tiny part of it and take no credit for anything, the sense of belonging is very important, regardless of who is prime minister. (Maybe thats the beauty of a constitutional monarchy?) We have a politician here called Naser Khader (I've mentioned him in previous debates). He is Syrian born and in past polls as been the most popular politican in Denmark. Prior to the recent electian he attempted to drive a wedge between the govenment and the opposiation parties by making a new party. He wanted to 'change' the political landscape too, and he was supported by a lot of people. Today his party exists but is a small interest group. It has some slight favour with the government, which it supports with its mandates, but whether or not it has changed anything is doubtful. Khaders stated aim in creating his new party was to force the nationalists out of favour with the govermnent. He failed. Today, ironically, in order to remain relevent Khader must sit at the table with the nationalsists (who are far larger party) and support the government along side them. (Danish politics is all about minority parties making coalitians).

The point of that tale was Khader was like Obama. Popular, charming, charismatic. A Muslim. He was the ethnic minority outsider who came along to 'change the status quo'. He ended up being a part of what he had claimed to be out to change. Today he talks about compromise and changing from within (which is good).

Barack Obama will be the same I think. He will not bring change. He will be forced by reality to conform to necessity.

None of that makes him any less popular with the non American population of planet Earth though. mrsparkle.gif



QUOTE(Turnea)
Bill Richardson was Hispanic though not dreadfully exciting or charismatic.

Still he's a great VP choice.
That doesn't actually answer the question though... does it?

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post Jan 14 2008, 02:08 AM
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QUOTE(moif @ Jan 13 2008, 07:46 AM) *
Because he isn't white and he isn't a woman.


Barack Obama isn't White and he isn't a woman, but his appeal to a White male in a foreign country is elusive because it's likely you aren't the person who would most likely be inspired by a African-American Chief Executive. For far too long power in America has been concentrated primarily in the hands of White males. To see a White woman (Hillary Clinton) or a Black man (Barack Obama) as the leader of the world's only superpower would be a dramatically different reality.

QUOTE
It occurs to me as an after thought, and this is probably a bit OT, but if America was really as so many Americans would like to think, wouldn't there be another 'non white' candidate on offer? Its hard to compare Obama's potential with the other candidates because you can't avoid the racial aspect.

I guess what I mean to ask is; would Barack Obama really be so attractive if one or two other candidates were also 'non white'?


We will have to wait for the day when the presence of Black men and White women is no longer an oddity, but a common event on the political scene. That day is not yet here. It's kind of like Jackie Robinson integrating major league baseball. Robinson wasn't the best ballplayer in the Negro Leagues. He was the one who had the right image and temperament to make him the first to break the color line.

There have been other Blacks who have run for the highest office in the land. None of them were able to raise the money, put together the organization or break out beyond a small group of Black and White liberal supporters to truly be viable. Obama is the first to do so and so far the most successful. He may fall short of The White House, but what he's going through now will make it easier for other racial minorities following behind him in the future.

Dreams are not reality, but most realities start off as only a dream.
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post Jan 14 2008, 06:52 AM
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Generally speaking, which of candidates would be best for America's image in...

Generally speaking, I think The Rest of the World will be most impressed by our next president's foreign policy, not by the demographics of the individual the American voter chooses to elect. In that regard, I think that diplomacy will be better for our image than aggression and cooperation better than the notion of infallible exceptionalism. Generally speaking, I think The Rest of the World - and America itself - will be most impressed by a president who is informed, engaged, and in control, a president who is willing to get up at 7am and put in day's work.

The election of Barack Obama may make a positive impression in Europe, in Africa, perhaps in Latin America, but it could be short-lived. I suspect that an Obama administration would be about as effectual as another Carter administration. Obama would have to spend his first couple of years in office just learning the bureaucracy; he would be an outsider - and every bit as dependent on his advisers as is George W Bush (though for vastly different reasons). But, ultimately, I think that experience will prove more impressive, better for America's image abroad, than change for change's sake. Above all else, simple competence after the past eight years will be "exciting" enough for most of the world's interested population.

Therefore, Hillary Clinton is probably best poised to effect any marked improvement in America's image abroad (though Biden would have been a reasonable option as well). She is informed, she is engaged; she would not be taking orders from her vice president or depending on lessons from her secretary of state. She is also an insider, a player - and the Clintons (plural) are already very popular abroad, largely because they are informed and engaged. All of this, of course, has its attendant down-side. As a player, for example, Clinton may already be beholden to a number of corporate interests (and is already something of a pander to the Israel lobby), plus there's all that Clinton baggage, whether it has actual substance or not, which could prove to be the sort of distraction we just don't need right now. Not that we ever did.

How important is it to you that our president possesses knowledge and understanding of how to improve our popularity with cultures beyond our borders, and consequently, who then are you supporting? Are we mistaken to value our country's popularity abroad?

I'm not as concerned with our level of popularity as I am with why we may be popular or unpopular at any given time, especially in relation to specific policies. I certainly think we should weigh the impact our popularity may have in terms of trade, defense, and a variety of other issues, but our relative popularity should only be one of several factors considered in making any decision of international import. For that reason, it is only one of several factors I would use in weighing my choice of candidate. Were our image abroad my sole consideration, I'd have to back Clinton. I don't. At least not so long as there are other potentially viable candidates in the running. Therefore, other factors are more important to me at the moment. happy.gif

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As an aside, I can't say I buy the four-minute-mile theory of glass ceilings, as comforting a thought as it may be. I just doubt that morphic resonance extends to voting habits. John F. Kennedy broke the non-Protestant barrier nearly fifty years ago. Have we had a Catholic president since? A Jewish president? An atheist? To the extent that Clinton and Obama may be pushing race and gender boundaries, both having made it as far as they have would seem to render such candidates more viable in future campaigns. Then again, that's what everyone was saying about Geraldine Ferraro. So a win for either could easily be as much of a blip as was Kennedy's election.
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