Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts About the Obama Inauguration

Barack Obama has been President for seventeen minutes. In the course of my morning errands I have caught fleeting glimpses of his inauguration. The focus has been understandably on the first African American President taking office.

The first family will be under an electron microscope. I was reading an article titled "Forty Four facts about Barack Obama." This trend towards tabloid news coverage is not at all useless. On a personal level, the Obama family does some things that are worthy of emulation.

In their personal lives, the Obamas have remained focused. They are clearly dedicated to their marriage and to their children. It was not only in the presidential campaign that Barack Obama was focused on an objective. Sticking to his studies and taking the welfare of his children seriously sets an example that is a recipe for success for those who want to follow in his footsteps. There are all too many single parent homes African American communities all across America. 57% of college students are women. Among African Americans the gap is even higher.

Despite the praiseworthy personal example of a stable loving family in the White House, I remain concerned about Obama's economic ideas. It seems that his approach to solving it is to throw and possibly print trillions of dollars at our economic problems. I am afraid that he might wreck the currency without finding a way out of our current crisis.

I remain troubled about Obama's position on abortion when he was in Chicago politics. He opposed medical intervention to save the life of a child who survived an abortion. I do not believe such policies bring blessings to our country. I hope that the dialogue which Obama has initiated with conservative opposition will result in a change in this position.

It will probably be only a matter of time before Obama is tested with an international crisis. I hope that Obama will display realism and resolve when dealing with those whose avowed aim is to destroy America.

I do not believe America should force a "peace" settlement on Israel. The best that can now be hoped for is a peace like that between Taiwan and China, two countries that have not recognised each other for sixty years but quietly deal with each other under the table. No one has pushed them towards this modus vivendi. It has evolved over decades.

It boggles my mind that so little attention is paid to sub Saharan Africa. The Congo alone has had over five million deaths in the last ten years. Millions of Africans are dying of war, disease and poverty. I hope Obama's Kenyan ancestry focuses his heart and mind towards that troubled continent.

I remain a skeptical member of the "loyal opposition". I want America under Obama to thrive. The stakes are too high to wish otherwise.

Some people use games as a metaphor for life. What I dislike about checkers and chess is that pieces are knocked off the board. The game that provides the most compelling metaphor for politics and life is Othello. In it, pieces are not knocked off the board. By flanking your opponent, you change the colour of his pieces to your colour. This is how I see my role as a "labour conservative" opponent of Obama. I seek to change America, one mind at a time, one opinion at a time.

In my metaphorical framework, there is no honeymoon. But from day one, we will all be on the same board, playing the same game, each side trying to turn its opponents into allies.

My prayers are for our President and our country. My opposition si for the good of the country. Congratulations Mr. President. G-d bless America.

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