Thursday, October 26, 2006

The next president?

There is real media frenzy these days in the US about Barack Obama, the US senator who has been a rising star in American politics. He is a rather new face in politics. He’s only been in the Senate since 2004 but entered the national spotlight as the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention.

As you can see here, Time magazine recently featured a photo of Obama on its cover with the headline "Why Barack Obama could be the next president.".

After saying he would not run for president or vice-president, last Sunday on "Meet the Press", he said he was considering a run for the presidency. He was pretty skillful about how he explained this chage of heart by attributing it to "the responses that I've been getting over the last several months" while campaigning for Democratic candidates across the country

What explains his rock-star popularity?

First, he’s got charisma and is a good speaker. His rhetoric is one of hope and optimism which is what Americans want to hear these days. His views are also much more middle-ground which may also appeal to a country which has been polarized in the last few years.

He also embodies the American dream he went from neighborhood activist to U.S. Senator. Jis book is after all called, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream”. His father came from Kenya and his mother was from Kansas and as such he is also a symbol of unity, racial unity this time.

His is also one of those very few democrats who voted against the war in Iraq and that is definitely something that sells well these days.

His fresh face could also attract voters which could also be his weakest point since he has little experience, and it is clear that his opponents would use that against him in the current terror-filled world.

In any case, he is someone to follow closely.

I also see a parallel between what is going on in France with the popularity of French politician Segolène Royal and the popularity of Barrack Obama in the US. It is pretty clear that people in France and in the US want someone who embodies something different. They want some change. The French are now ready for a woman and the Americans for an African-American. Whether either one will ever become president remains to be seen of course.


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