Sunday, April 20, 2008

French Kiss For Obama

(By Eric Margolis, Edmonton Sun, Canada)

The more things change, say the French, the more they remain the same. But France of 2008 is no longer the distant 1950s France of my youth. I admit nostalgia.

In those days, most French refused to speak English, a process they found undignified and painful. Today, the new globalized generation loves English. France is becoming bilingual. Even France's entry into the Eurosong competition is -- mon dieu! -- in English.

Paris taxi drivers, who once sought to install plates in their rear seats to electrocute passengers, have become shockingly polite. Retailers and waiters actually seem pleased to see you. The French have discovered a new happy pill.

Wine and bread consumption, once staples of French life, are way down. French are drinking less but better wines. Oppressed French can't smoke in bars and restaurants any more. Youth live on junk food. The wonderful old smoky, black and white France of my youth, with her riots, Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, army plots, silly Left Bank intellectuals, and weird little Panhard and Simca cars has vanished.

Europeans are fascinated by the U.S. presidential race. During two weeks of TV and radio broadcasting, the No. 1 question I was asked is who will win the U.S. primaries and November vote.


If all non-Americans had a vote -- I've always favoured a one-tenth vote for non-Americans -- then Barack Obama would win in a landslide. Like North Americans, most Europeans really don't know much about the experience-light senator, but what they see, they like beaucoup. You can feel a passion here for Obama that is quite remarkable.

He is, of course, the non-Bush. But so is Hillary Clinton, yet she inspires surprisingly little support even though hubby Bill, for reasons that elude me, was widely admired abroad. Hillary is regarded simply as an avatar of the Clinton political machine which, however formidable, is seen as empty of substance, and dedicated only to power and money.

The three Americans most respected internationally are Obama, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore. They are seen as representing America's best qualities. They are also a potent antidote to the rednecks, holy rollers, and totalitarian neocon ideologues who hijacked the Republican Party -- my life-long party -- and blackened America's name around the globe.

Obama is widely seen abroad as the candidate who can end the shameful Bush era and return America to a moderate, productive role in world affairs. He is expected to end the Iraq war and Bush's militarized foreign policy, and reintegrate the United States into the company of law-abiding, environmentally conscious nations, of which the European Union is now the leader.

Obama comes across to Europeans as dignified, decent, eloquent, and truthful -- qualities notably lacking in Bush and Dick Cheney who often represent some of America's cruder instincts and synthetic patriotism. Much of the world would hail and admire America for electing a man of colour, but even more so, one who appears to capture so much of what is great and admirable about the United States.

There are fears here the bitter Clinton-Obama contest may ruin both candidates, leading to four more years of Bush under John McCain.


But it may also benefit Obama. He needs to toughen up before facing the ferocious Republican attack machine that sunk war veteran John Kerry's campaign under a torrent of "swiftboat" lies. McCain is a gentleman, but not so Carl Rove's character assassins in waiting.

Obama could sharply improve America's highly negative image as a determined enemy of the Muslim world. Not because his father was Muslim, but because of his image of fairness and sensible foreign policy proposals calling for open dialogue instead of confrontation.

If Americans want to lower the terrorism threat against their nation, electing Obama is a good way to start.

It's distressing listening to the rich McCain and Clintons label Obama an "elitist" because he is intelligent, and poised. Next, they will brand him, "too French."
Image - Source
UPDATE: Urban Perspectives: Why phenomenon Obama just might take Penna.



Blogger bayi said...

When Jimmy Carter first became President of the US, I thought, like many others, what would a peanut farmer know about running the most powerful country in the world? And I was wrong.

Over the years he has displayed qualities that I most admire, just as he has gone about trying to negotiate with Hamas, much to the displeasure of President Bush and the Israelis. Jimmy Carter is a man of integrity.

And like many of the non-Americans, I have high hopes that Obama can do much more to integrate the Americans and bridge the gap between the Americans and the rest of the world. This gap has widened since Bush took over the administration of the USA.

I follow the Democrats' primary with great interest and my heart lies with OBAMA!

11:00 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Purple Haze said...

I have to disagree with Bayi's assessment of Jimmy Carter.

Carter's penchant for appeasement led to the 400+ days hostage standoff in Iran and thereafter, that incident became a catalyst for more radical terrorists acts and the spread of radical religious zealotry. The US basically exited Iran with their tail wagging behind them.

And now, he is trying to negotiate with Hamas. Does he have the locus standi to do that or as he has been observed in recent times, conducting yet another irreverent activity? His comments of late also reflect some senility.

The upcoming Democrat election is interesting. Obama reflects a more appeasement stance in foreign policy while I don't have any doubts that Mrs Clinton is not averse to starting a theatre of conflict with any rogue nation.

And if it comes to a McCain-Obama Presidential election, it would be interesting what America votes for - "we are #1" vs "let's all live together"

12:33 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if Obama Hussein becomes US President and then appoint Osama Ladan as Secretary of State and Islam as the only official religion of the US?

8:06 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous SM said...

If the Americans do vote for Obama to be their next Prseident, it would be a big "change" for the US and a move towards real "integration" of the US.
Will Malaysia ever have an "Obama"?

10:54 AM GMT+8  
Blogger kittykat46 said...

Jimmy Carter was and is a good, decent man. But hopeless as a Chief Executive.

Faced with the challenge from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranians taking US diplomats as hostage, he just flip-flopped his way through his term as President.

Does that sound a bit like a certain Malaysian leader ?

"If Americans want to lower the terrorism threat against their nation, electing Obama is a good way to start"

9/11 was planned mostly during the Clinton Administration, and Bush was in the beginning mostly isolationist.

There's plenty America can do to improve its relations with the rest of the world.

But get real about the terrorist threat...electing or not electing Obama isn't going to change it one iota.

Not for the human-bomb type terrorist waiting to meet his 72 virgin houris in heaven.

12:14 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

purple haze...your sense of history and of morality appears to denote the haze of your thinking. Look at the broader picture and think which is the bigger terrorist- state terrorists like us and israel or the group terrorists like hamas- one man's terrorist is another ma's freedom fighter. if you can't understand this don't expect others to understand your sense of discrimination in other areas. Every time people like you talk it only shows two things- either you are stupid to swallow everything the western media throws or you're as racist as the oppressors of the palestinians. Don't expect other people's sympathy when it happens to you for what i see on the horizon is the demonising of the chinese by the wests. you will feel like the palestinians once the gathering black cloud reache you. Rea more and read with a brain..,

10:42 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what sense of history and morality. Sometimes you can't explain to these self-professed intellectuals. more like form five intellectualism!!!

10:44 AM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thse chinks thought they're real intellectuals!!!my my

11:22 AM GMT+8  

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