Archive for the ‘change’ Category

Obama: Oratory and originality

November 20, 2008

US President-elect Barack Obama’s rhetorical skill, his ability to captivate and inspire audiences with his powerful speeches, has led some writers to describe him as the greatest orator of his generation.

By Stephanie Holmes

What is the secret of his success – the words themselves, the way he delivers them, or the historical change he represents?

“I believe Barack Obama embodies, more than any other politician, the ideals of American eloquence,” says Ekaterina Haskins, professor of rhetoric at the University of Iowa.

His speeches, she argues, are shaded with subtle echoes of great speeches past, consciously creating a sense of history, purpose and continuity.

Past ghosts

“He has certainly studied all of his predecessors, he is quite aware of the rhetorical heritage that he draws on,” Ms Haskins explains. “He clearly sees himself as a descendant of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King.”

“He is summoning the ghosts of previous leaders and presidents who Americans have learnt to revere.”

“American Press has Turned Into a Joke” Comparing Obama To FDR, Lincoln

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Obama Promised ‘Change’ But All Picks So Far Are Democrat Insiders, Not New

November 20, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama promised the voters change but has started his Cabinet selection process by naming several Washington insiders to top posts.

By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press Writer
Obama is enlisting former Senate leader Tom Daschle as his health secretary. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a well-known Washington personality, seemed more likely than ever to be his secretary of state. Clinton is deciding whether to take that post as America’s top diplomat, her associates said Wednesday

Obama is ready to announce that his attorney general will be Eric Holder, the Justice Department’s No. 2 when Clinton’s husband was president. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, is another veteran of the Clinton White House.

Daschle’s selection to head the Health and Human Services Department — confirmed Wednesday but not yet announced — isn’t at the same level of Cabinet prestige as the top spots at the State and Justice departments. But the health post could be more important in an Obama administration than in some others, making Daschle a key player in helping steer the president-elect’s promised health care reforms.

Daschle could push Obama for quick action on health care reform next year, if he follows his own advice.

In this April 22, 2008 file photo, former Senate Majority Leader ... 
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, left, followed by current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, smiles on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democratic officials say Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama’s offer to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File )

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The Obama Transition: What Will Change Look Like

November 13, 2008

It is one of the ironies of politics and history that when the candidate of change was pondering what he would do if he actually got elected President, he turned to the man who eight years before handed over the White House keys to George W. Bush. Former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta had met Barack Obama only a few times before the Democratic nominee summoned him to Chicago in August to ask him to begin planning a transition. Podesta supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries and had little in common with Obama beyond the fact that they are both skinny guys from Chicago. Yet it is hard to think of a Democrat in Washington who can match Podesta’s organizational abilities or his knowledge of the inner workings of government. And Obama was already giving plenty of thought to the crucial 76 days between the election and the Inauguration. “He understood that in order to be successful, he had to be ready,” says Podesta, who is now a co-chairman of the transition team. “And he had to be ready fast.”

Time Magazine


Even in the calmest of times, the transfer of presidential power is a tricky maneuver, especially when it involves one party ceding the office to another. But not since Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in the midst of the Depression has a new President faced a set of challenges quite as formidable as those that await Obama. That’s why Obama has been quicker off the blocks in setting up his government than any of his recent predecessors were, particularly Bill Clinton, who did not announce a single major appointment until mid-December. As the President-elect put it in his first radio address, “We don’t have a moment to lose.”


Not only did Obama name a White House chief of staff two days after the election, but he also began to fill 120,000 sq. ft. (11,000 sq m) of office space in downtown Washington with a transition operation that is ultimately expected to have a staff of 450 and a budget of $12 million, more than half of which must be raised from private funds. Obama’s goal, says his old friend Valerie Jarrett, another co-chair of the transition operation, “is to be able to be organized, efficient, disciplined and transparent to the American people.” More disciplined than transparent: Washington’s quadrennial parlor game is in full swing, with scores of names being circulated as contenders for top jobs in the Obama Administration. But the number of people who actually know anything is small, and they are not prone to leaking.


The transition provides an early glimpse of how the Obama team will conduct itself in power – and a test of how much change it really will bring to Washington. As the cascade of crises grows – the collapse of General Motors being the latest – the President-elect won’t have time to settle in before making big decisions. In a real sense, the moves Obama makes in the next six weeks may help define what kind of President he will be. The appointments he makes, the way he engineers his government, how fast he gets everything in place – each of those things will determine whether he stumbles or bursts out of the starting gate and whether he sets forth a clear or an incoherent agenda for governing.

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For Yanks and Brits: This is no time for a novice? Oh yes it is

November 4, 2008

In the UK, Gordon Brown’s favourite slogan will be seriously undermined if the American electorate vote for change….

The Times (UK)
There was just one word on the home page of the Barack Obama website yesterday: Change. With only hours to go, the Democrats were advertising Change We Need rallies and Change the World T-shirts. The presidential candidate’s slogan is: “Change we can believe in” – “I’m asking you to believe not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington, I’m asking you to believe in yours,” says the man who would be commander in chief.

If the polls are right and Mr Obama is indeed declared the first black president of the United States early tomorrow morning nobody can be in any doubt that America has decided it is time for a change. “Change to what?” many will ask with some justification. But in this crossroads election – that is a choice between different cultural as well as political futures – the voters have opted for the new over the old.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks to Saudi businessmen ... 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks to Saudi businessmen in Riyadh, November 2, 2008.(Fahad Shadeed/Reuters)

Right to the end, John McCain was pitting his experience against his rival’s lack of it. The Republicans have been playing voters in swing states a recording of Hillary Clinton saying that “in the White House there is no time for on-the-job training”. Just as it looked initially as if the former First Lady would snatch the Democratic nomination from the new kid on the block, so some assumed that the 72-year-old Vietnam vet would seize the crown from the young pretender. The electorate, however, appears to have decided that it is time for a novice.

And this is, of course, a message that has resonance in Britain. The presidential contest is a political prototype, the Urtext of election campaigns, because in the end all contests boil down to a choice between experience and change. It can be framed in different ways – the future against the past, fear rather than hope, “better the devil you know” versus “it can’t get any worse”. In television terms, it’s The West Wing or Yes, Minister; during the primaries, the Obama team described it as “magic versus the machine”.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama speaks ...
Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama speaks during an election rally in Henderson, Nevada , November 1, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

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Change from within in Iran?

March 14, 2008

USA Today

The dangers posed by Iran can hardly be ignored. Tehran continues to enrich uranium and could restart its nuclear weapons program at any time. It has been undeterred by sanctions. Its virulently anti-American president has called for the destruction of Israel and supports Middle East terrorism. Its regional influence is growing — in part because it is no longer held in check by one-time ene
my Saddam Hussein. The United States has accused it of being behind attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.

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Advocating Change, Hillary Saddled With Relic Bill

January 5, 2008
By NANCY BENAC, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – In a presidential race where the Democratic candidates are competing as agents of change, Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s most reliable campaign prop is something of a political relic — her husband.

With Bill Clinton, it’s a far more complicated dynamic than simply that of the supportive husband.

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, ...
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and their daughter Chelsea, left, acknowledge the cheers of supporters after Sen. Clinton addressed the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 49th annual 100 Club dinner in Milford, NH., Friday night, Jan. 4, 2008. New Hampshire’s first in the nation presidential primary is Tuesday Jan. 8, 2008.

President Bush Lost Credibility, Confidence

September 6, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
September 6, 2007

It seems obvious to just about all American voters: Bush lost all credibility somewhere after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He couldn’t or didn’t regain it thus becoming one of the presidents’ with the lowest public support polling numbers in history.

I like President Bush. But when the American people believe you have lost just about all credibility their confidence goes down the drain quickly.

Just yesterday, when a reporter asked Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin about the impending report from General David H. Petraeus on the “surge” in Iraq, he answered, “The Bush report?”

“We know what is going to be in it. It’s clear. I think the president’s trip over to Iraq makes it very obvious,” the Illinois Democrat said. “I expect the Bush report to say, ‘The surge is working. Let’s have more of the same.'”

For right or wrong, President Bush has become the “more of the same” president. As a result, Hillary Clinton and others are running for the White House under a one word banner: “CHANGE.”

I asked a friend who is a registered Republican what he thought about Vice President Cheney and he said (I am paraphrasing a little here) “Cheney represents the worst aspect of American politics. Cronyism. Special interests influencing the White House. Halliburton. Waste fraud and abuse. Lying to the American public. You cannot trust this guy and he has tremendous influence over President Bush.”

Cheney, to many, is the Emperor of the Evil Empire. Karl Rove was just the executioner.

Vice President Cheny was my “boss” in a way at one time while he served as Secretary of Defense (during the first war in Iraq) and I served as a Naval Officer. But Mr. Cheney lost me when he made a long-winded “over the top” defense of President general Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, September 10, 2006. You have to read for yourself the transcripts (see references at the end).

Mr. Cheney is also close to President Karzai of Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai has made no secret of the fact that he believes the Taliban, al-Qaeda and perhaps Osama Bin Laden himself are hiding out in the tribal areas of Pakistan: the land governed by President General Pervez Musharraf. The tribal areas are along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. They form, as the name implies, a semi-autonomous region. Pakistan’s Army does not venture into the tribal areas without severe trepidation.

For more than a year, we at Peace and Freedom have had an almost daily dialogue with journalist Muhammad Khurshid from Khar, Bajaur Agency, Tribal Areas Pakistan. Muhammad has given us at Peace and Freedom, and we hope, many readers, an appreciation for Pakistan, President General Musharraf and especially the tribal areas.

Muhammad I trust. Mr. Cheney: no.

Mr. Cheney was also involved in “the great research project” which prompted the administration to practically guarantee that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them. CIA Director Tenet told a room full of Oval Office luminaries this fact was a “slam dunk.” Mr. Tenet lost his job, not too long after that, and was smeared, some say, by the White House as a man without credibility or merit.

Cheney also engineered Secretary of State Colin Powell’s dissertation before the United Nations on Iraq, Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction and the CIA’s “proof.”

Mr. Powell also lost his job and may have been the victim of a smear campaign engineered by the White House. Powell was “thrown under the bus.”

But it is President Bush himself who has disappointed most. Remember, “Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job” after Hurricane Katrina? He lost his job soon thereafter also.

Remember, “I looked into Putin’s soul and saw a man I could do business with”?

Just yesterday, President Bush said of China’s Hu Jintao, the architect or banker, perhaps, of the genocide in Darfur, “He’s an easy man to talk to. I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu.”

President Hu regularly stabs America in the back at the United Nations and elsewhere. The fact that he smiles and is an affable lad is not relevant.

Mr. Putin and President Hu Jintao just cooperated in the largest combined Chinese-Russian military maneuvers ever. They also hosted an international conference that gave the podium to the likes of President Ahmadinejad of Iran. He naturally attacked the U.S. in his speech.

But President Hu is really best known as the villain in the worst Human Rights abuses and the worst violations of ecology on today’s planet earth. Never mind what President Bush sees in his soul. Ask Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations, Greenpeace and other international human rights or ecology groups. God will mediate this one.

On China, President Bush has enemies on the left and the right.  The right wing of the Republican Party says Bush is soft on China.  The Democrat left says he does too little for Human Rights.

Remember Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, the architects of the war against terror in the Pentagon? Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, “wildly off the mark.” Pentagon officials put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

Neither Rumsfeld nor Wolfie attended General Shinseki’s retirement. But the General, in hindsight, appears to have been right. Rumsfeld retired and Wolfie went to the World Bank where he crashed and burned.

But generally, commentators say, President Bush stands by his people.

President Bush stood by his pal from Texas Alberto Gonzales long past the time most president’s would have summoned, even driven the bus. The president will maybe go down for his loyalty to his guys: but not for his acute judgment.

And who in the United States is responsible for out “Hearts and Minds” effort in the war against terror?

To remind those that don’t even recall: Karen Hughes, another President Bush buddy from Texas.

In 2005 CBS News reported on Hughes’ role this way: “President Bush’s adviser Karen Hughes was named to a State Department post designed to change Islamic perceptions about America.”

And how are we doing on the “Hearts and Minds effort”? Miserable. A total failure (see references at the end about “misunderspinning”).  Ms. Hughes still works at the U.S. Department of State.

President Bush and his vice president are serving out their terms. The next presidential election is a huge one.

But you knew all this. I was the one that only caught on slowly.

Cheney’s Stand on Musharraf May Yet Be Reversed

Pakistan: Bush Team Ignored Experts

China: ‘Trust but verify’ needed

Cold War Redux?

Permanent President Putin?

Misunderspinning: Hezbollah Honored For Sharp Media Acuity; Where’s Ours?

Where is America’s War of Hearts and Minds?

Bush Again Proves Soft on China

Bush, South Korean President Roh Run Amok