Obama mania

By Dinidu de Alwis

Been an interesting couple of weeks, the last few. Obama won after a pretty dramatic and hard fought election campaign which lasted almost two years. Did you hear? Bush still has around seventy days to go before Obama can swear in as the new messiah President of the United States. A half black man who was voted in for the highest office in the US (he's not the most powerful person yet. That's Oprah), a country in which white landowners who were the founding fathers said "Everybody is created equal," and put in fine print the "fact" that women, Indians and Blacks weren't, they were the scum of the earth.

Obama succeeds George W. Bush. The forty third President of the United States. A legacy maker of his own right. I love Bush. George Bush was the greatest president the US ever saw. He was instrumental in inventing freedom and democracy, which are now the primary exports of the United States. He is also known as the only president to have one on one discussions with God, and was a personal assistant to God, of sorts, running errands like invading Iraq. He is also known as the first president ever to choke on a pretzel. Such were his intellectual capabilities. Whilst some say "pity he didn't die," Iraqi citizens are forever grateful that he didn't, because of all the freedom and democracy, which ironically are Iraq's main imports now. Afghanistan is also a leader in importing freedom and democracy, and Pakistan has a black market for it. Freedom and democracy are being shoved down Pakistani throats.

He was also world renowned for his oratory and analytical skills. Whilst previous presidents of the US managed to get away with lousy statements such as "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" and "the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself" it was Bush who said about Afghan fighters, "…they have no disregard for human life" and on families, "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."

Such was he. He gave dreams to wings. He was the one who dreamt of the day that "OBGYNs (obstetricians and gynecologists) could practice their love with women." He dreamt of the day "that human beings and fish can coexist peacefully."

While the liberal biased media often "misunderestimated" him, Bush didn't let that slow him down. He asked the question "Is our children learning?", as he was always concerned about the children of the US. It was not only the children he was worried about. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we" was Bush in 2005, speaking about terrorism (which was ironically his pet subject after religion) and the threat to national security.

The arugula eating elitist terrorist-loving commie Muslim community organizer (see box below) that has been elected has large shoes to fill. And we are sure that he will not succeed, as not a single human is able to match up to the greatness that was George Walker Bush. But the fact remains, Obama was elected to fill in his post.

In terms of the symbolism it carries for minorities, and in reflection of the "everybody is created equal" statement that I spoke of earlier, and the context in which it was created, the weight of this election is massive and almost unprecedented.

I use the word almost above, as a better example would be to look at none other than Mandela, an activist and a political prisoner, taking office in a country torn and scarred by racial hatred. Not the level of watered down racism that exists in the US, but actual hatred depending on the skin color of the fellow human being. Treating blacks like animals, and assuming an air of superiority by the ruling whites. Pretty much like the US in the early days, when you think about it.

During the two days (day of election and the day votes were counted), I saw a level of excitement even that other voting thing that US gave (American Idol) couldn't generate. And being the inquisitive creature I am, I thought of looking into this and trying to figure out why, and how much they knew about Obama and his views. I asked around from a couple of people who had pro-Obama status messages up on facebook, Google Talk and MSN Messenger (sorry Yahoo! users. I don't use Y!). Most couldn't name who his running mate was (Joe Biden), didn't know his stance on abortion (He's pro), thought he's going to immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq (No. He has a multi phased withdrawal plan) and thought he was against nuclear energy (He supports. He just wants a proper clean up plan for the leftovers).

Looking at the symbolism that I spoke of earlier, I'm happy that Sri Lankans, especially young people, would support a person from a minority to the highest office in the US, even when the direct (key word being direct) impact from it, to our paradise isle is negligible. But at the same time, I sincerely albeit quite pessimistically hope that come next set of elections in Sri Lanka, the same level of enthusiasm would be shown. The same level of discussion over coffee, the same level of small scale endorsements, same level of voicing out of support, same level of involvement in the election. Not more, but the same level. After all, the impacts of that will be far more direct and hard hitting.

In closing today's rant, let me quote Barrak's and Michelle's mentor when they were in Harvard Law School, Professor Charles Ogletree, who said on the Daily Show/ Colbert Report election night special "There are two skinny guys from Illinois who made a difference. Abe Lincoln and Barack Obama". And for the sake of the people who were subject to eight years of stupidity and unprecedented level of utter incompetence that was George Walker Bush, I hope he will be proved right.

Arugula eating elitist terrorist-loving commie Muslim community organizer. Obama during a speech in Iowa commented on the high prices of Arugula, a type of Salad leaves which is generally taken as an acquired taste. The McCain camp jumped on this, and started calling him an "Arugula eating elitist."
Obama served on the board of the Woods Fund alongside William C. Ayers. Bill Ayers was part of the Weathermen, a domestic terrorist (or is it activist?) group which wanted to overthrow the US Government. The Weathermen were responsible for the US Capital bombings of 1971. McCain camp picked up on this, and started talking about his "Terrorist links." This was a favourite attack strategy for McCain VP pick, Sarah Palin.

Obama's tax plans were seen by the McCain camp as "sharing the wealth," which made them badge him a socialist. While the exact term "Commie" was never used, it was said repeatedly by the McCain camp, and McCain himself, that Obama was a socialist.

Palin and McCain both started questioning Obama's Muslim roots, to an extent where it backfired. McCain repeatedly had to correct his supporters who exclaimed that "Obama was a Muslim."

Obama worked as a Community Organizer for activist group ACORN, who works for marginalized people. This was made fun of by Rudy Guliani, and Sarah Palin. Guliani said "He worked as a Community Organizer. A what?", and Palin mocked Obama by saying "A small town mayor is something like a community organizer, except with actual responsibilities."

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