6 November 2008 Edition
Adams congratulates President elect Obama on election victory
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA has expressed his congratulations to Senator Barack Obama on winning the US Presidential election. Adams said:
“I want to congratulate President elect Obama on his successful election. I extend best wishes to him in meeting the many difficult challenges facing the new administration.
“President elect Obama has committed to continue US support for the Irish peace process. He also outlined his support for a comprehensive truth recovery process that would tackle the issue of state collusion and in particular endorsed the call for an independent, public inquiry into the murder of Human Rights lawyer Pat Finucane. I also welcome his comments on trade and investment, and his acknowledgement of the need for immigration reform. President elect Obama’s adoption of these policy positions is vital as we strive to overcome difficulties.
“Barack Obama’s election shows in politics that change is possible, and people everywhere will be mindful of the long history of African Americans and of all those who struggled for justice and fairness.”
“This time must be different” says Obama, but can he deliver?
Obama victory raises huge expectations
BY ROBBIE SMYTH
There were so many firsts and thresholds crossed in the epic election that selected Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. It was the longest campaign with Obama officially entering the race in February 2007, while John McCain announced his candidacy in March 2007.
It had the most money spent by the candidates culminating in the half hour Obamercial aired last week simultaneously on five major US TV networks racking up not just the most expensive political commercial ever but gathering the largest TV audience in the USA this year.
There was a record voter turn out, a record number of new voters registered; the poll held the possibility of electing the oldest ever US president but delivered instead the first African American.
So now as the dust settles, the focus turns to the practicalities and strategies of the Barack Obama administration. On the practical issues the question will be who will hold the key posts in the Obama administration, particularly Secretary of State.
Bill Clinton surprised many by his choice of Madeline Albright as Secretary of State for his second term of office. She was the first woman to hold the post. Condoleeza Rice was the second.
Expectations are high that Obama’s cabinet will be more diverse, more inclusive than any preceding president.
Then there are the strategic questions of how Obama will actually deliver on his campaign pledge of “hope you can believe in”. Repeatedly in his election acceptance speech to over 70,000 people in Chicago’s Grant Park, Obama told us that “Yes we can” and now many in Europe will want to see the ‘how we can’.
Assuming the presidency now, in a time of global economic turmoil and an international banking crisis means there are an increasing number of entries on Obama’s to-do list.
Two increasingly futile wars, eight years of foot dragging on tackling climate changes, a wholesale breakdown of international relations in the Middle East and progressively more entrenched conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority must be priorities for the new president. Real change must mean the end of the Bush Doctrine of endless war, jingoistic threats and futile military adventures that have yielded nothing but needless death and destruction.
The early closure of Guantanamo Bay detention centre must also be a priority as well the ending of torture and ‘extraordinary rendition’ flights. Positive changes like this will have significant echoes in the governments of Europe and beyond.
In Europe there is a groundswell of public support that wants to see an end to the war in Iraq and a date set for withdrawing from Afghanistan. The 200,000 plus people who turned out to see Obama in Berlin during the summer were testament to the support and expectation surrounding Barack Obama’s campaign.
Now Europeans want to see the resumption of proper diplomatic relations with Iran and the question of Palestinian rights to self-determination dealt with speedily. The daily chaos that is life in the Gaza Strip must be ended. The White House rose garden handshakes between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin brokered by Bill Clinton seem a world away. Can Obama show that he has both vision and ability?
In places like the New Orleans Ninth district, where whole neighbourhoods are still dispossessed and homeless the expectations are high.
Obama himself has set the bar high and fuelled these expectations not the least in his acceptance speech in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Obama said: “To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.”
For now it is time for Obama to enjoy his historic accomplishments and find time to grieve the death of his grandmother. Come 20 January 2009, the clock will be running.