What does President Obama mean for you?

Written By: - Date published: 2:19 pm, January 21st, 2009 - 46 comments
Categories: International - Tags:

day-one-lk1105d

If you’re living in New Zealand, President Obama isn’t going to change your life. Remember, you voted for John Key. You’ll have to wait for that ray of hope to shine. But President Obama won’t go un-noticed here, because his presidency means at least four things for New Zealanders.

First: President Obama means you can feel slightly better in the knowledge that fewer children of the world are being maimed or killed. Yes, in charge of the world’s most powerful state, Obama means a more liberal and internationalist ideology will dominate international affairs. It means less war, fewer deaths, more humanitarianism, and more diplomacy.

Second: President Obama means you won’t have to abandon your family bach/crib on the coast. Thankfully Obama’s environmental policies aren’t written by the oil industry (or pre-written in Genesis). So hopefully now, the world can work with the world’s largest emitter to finally make some meaningful progress on combating climate change.

Third: President Obama means you’ve got a better chance of keeping your job in the tourist or agriculture industry. Taking a more ‘interventionist’ approach to the U.S. economy will help minimise the effects of their recessions. And if the American economy is in better shape, Americans will remain huge buyers of our animal products and keep visiting New Zealand in droves (In 2007 more than 216,000 U.S. citizens visited NZ).

Fourth: President Obama represents to us the power of people. He took the helm of a movement of people that defied the conservative institutions of the United States. President Obama tells us as New Zealanders that we don’t have to settle for the mediocrity and moral ambiguity that won out in our last election. A strong, inspirational and successful left-wing movement is possible because people are intelligent and people are moral. Talk, explain, debate, inspire, and people will see the neo-conservative institutions for they really are – there to suffocate the interests of the people.

46 comments on “What does President Obama mean for you? ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    What bombastic shite.

    I too am pleased that Bush is out and a new president is in but to suggest that he’s some kind of a second coming before he’s even had 24 hours in office is to set him up for a fall.

  2. Totally agree with HS.

    While I like Obama the only thing that’s changed is the face of US capitalism/imperialism.

  3. Jasper 3

    Personally, it means nothing for me.

    For the american sitting next to me, her crying face says it all.

    I really do feel sorry for them. They’ve had 8 years of putting up with Bush, and they see Obama as their shining light.

    Which is entirely understandable. Like him or hate him, Clinton simply did a diddly under the desk, which certainly didn’t condemn tens of thousands of people.
    No wonder Clinton is still so popular around the world, and at home in the states too.

    For my tuppence worth, I’ve noticed that Barack talks a lot, but doesn’t seem to say much. I’ll reserve my judgement until I’ve actually seen him in Action (something Key needs to follow – is he waiting for B.O to move first?) as until today he couldn’t start any actions.

    Totally OT:

    I said I’d reserved my judgement on National. I’m writing them off as being a bunch of useless twats.

  4. I thought Eddie’s comments were perfectly appropriate. At long last we have a leader of the free world who is actually talking about the real issues and getting them into proper perspective. From the look of the behind the scenes work including the economic analysis and options paper that his advisers have prepared he intends to make decisions on the basis of what is actually required, not what is politically easy.

    His election will mean less wars and innocent deaths than otherwise, it could hardly be worse.

    Science and Climate change will go into the policy mix. This is a tremendous change.

    And Barak presents liberals everywhere with the lesson that the left actually can talk about issues and take morally strong and principled stands on matters rather than rely on focus group findings and refuse to say anything.

  5. “His election will mean less wars and innocent deaths than otherwise, it could hardly be worse.”

    Are we talking about wars the US are directly involved in or wars they’re in-directly involved in?

  6. Quoth the Raven 6

    For once I agree with HS. I as well am pleased that Bush is gone, but Obama doesn’t represent some giant change he’s just Bill Clinton with a tan.

  7. Chris 7

    yeah, no offense eddie but that was a load of uninformed ideological bollocks.

    The standard may be left, but it normally has a fair amount of intelligence behind it. This was just a dumb post. Who are obama’s main backers? the people or all the big corporates who have flocked to the inauguration to brown nose?

    Same same but different.

  8. Joseph 8

    Obama isn’t in the hands of the oil industry, but he is in the hands of big business. Democrats have historically been in Hollywoods pocket. This is bad news for Intellectual Property laws, and such idiotic shit as Section 29a which Judith Tizard injected back into the bill last year.

  9. Kevin 9

    This is absolute garbage.

    Firstly American democrats are normal – they put heir country first and their ideology second, thankfully for us. This is in stark contrast to the NZ left who put their ideology first and their country down the toilet.

    Secondly, democrats are historically more protectionist than republicans.

    Thirdly, interventionism and big government meddling caused the credit crunch so we are all being duped by this headlong rush back to Keynesian economics and even bigger government. The only thing is, now we are starting yet another round of with the government already 50% of GDP rather than 25% of GDP so its going to be an absolute disaster for our children that will make the 80’s look like a picnic.

    Finally you can keep perpetuating the lie that we are in some neocon era if you like but you are just making it worse for our children. After 9 years of disastrous National led government and 9 years of Labour, the worst government in our history, has never been bigger at 50% of GDP. And you can only create so many cat homoeopathist and basket weaving jobs and stay in the first world, although labour tried very hard to drop us of the bottom of the OECD ladder.

    I welcome Obama, because I don’t think history is going to smile on Bush as it has for many other republicans like Nixon. But he’s certainly not going to deliver the kind of BS you seem to want.

  10. Pascal's bookie 10

    Tough crowd.

    Ob has got the biggest liberal mandate in living memory, refused to take lobbyist money, beat the clinton machine (who the corporates would have preferred), whipped the pants off the GOP, got 2 million people to show up to his party, (more than any other inauguration, the biggest anti vietnam protest and the million man march combined; giving him not only political capital to spare, but visible grassroots pressure), has signaled all sorts of changes on everything from the wars to progressive taxes, environmental action, regulation, healthcare, civil liberties, and lord knows what all else;

    and ya’ll are kvetching that he aint Pete Seeger or some shit.

    Talk about making the perfect the enemy of the good.

    I’m all in favour of cynicism, expect to disagree with much of what he does, but he ain’t a republican, and in case youse forgot, there was an actual clinton in the race, and he beat her from the left.

  11. Carol 11

    The whole US patriotism thing is highly ideological. The Democrats tend to be more right wing than NZ’s Labour Party, hence little of a strong left-right polarity in the US. The US patriotism ideology, which Obama expressed in his speech today, equates individual rights and equality of opportunity with capitalism, individualism over social welfare policies, the superiority and dominance of their country internationally, and imperialist policies.

    Obama was more to the left when he was younger, but has moved more to the right the closer he got to the centre of US politcal power. That’s what anyone who aspires to be at the centre of US politics has to do.

    PB, there was a report out in the last few days that showed Obama got a high proportion of financial support from finance capitalists/sector people and their families. He would never have got to the position he’s in without support from those in the US with economic and political power.

    Also I don’t really think Obama is to the left of Hillary – depends on the issue, but on domestic stuff I think Hillary is slightly more to the left.

  12. President Obama means a lot to me, I have American relatives, so it changes their life’s and it changes mine.

  13. Quoth the Raven 13

    Kevin – Get your facts right. Government spending as a % of GDP was 32.4% under the last labour government and 31.8% under the last National government and it’s only going to rise under this one. One of the best things I’ve read on the financial crisis is this:The lesson to learn here is not, ultimately, that the federal government ought to be bailing out homeowners facing foreclosure instead of (or in addition to) Bear Stearns. It shouldn’t be doing anything of the sort. Government economic intervention is precisely what has caused this crisis, by using its money monopoly to systematically favoring large-scale, consolidated, irresponsible financial firms, and to forcibly smooth out the normal churning and higgling of capital markets for those firms’ benefit, at the expense of working people’s income and cash savings. They do it through the extortion racket that keeps a steady flow of cash to holders of government securities; they also do it through the counterfeiting racket that passes for money in these days, the supply of which a handful of politicians and banking bureaucrats can manipulate at will, so as to suck every last drop of purchasing power out of working people’s wages and cash savings, in order to disgorge it into the dollar-denominated accounts of the kind of people who get big loans of finance capital. Government economic intervention and the money monopoly in particular have been deliberately calibrated to redirect resources and control upwards into the “responsible’ hands of politically-connected investment banks and speculators, and then to send you the bill (either visibly in your taxes or invisibly through inflation) for the massive screwjob that they’ve perpetrated on you.

  14. Carol 14

    Sorry, the report was about donations to Obama’s inaugural festivities, not to his election campaign, though I think he also got a lot of corporate donations to that too:

    Battered Wall St tops Obama inaugural donors: study

    http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSTRE50G1PQ20090117
    By Kevin Drawbaugh

    ……….. “While Americans are hoping for real change in Washington, many
    deep-pocketed donors are hoping money still buys them access and
    influence,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the
    nonpartisan money-in-politics watchdog group.

    “If history is any guide, these wealthy individuals, as well as the
    corporations and industries they represent, may more than recoup their
    investment in Obama through presidential appointments, favorable
    legislation and government contracts,” Krumholz said.

    People with Wall Street ties — 118 of them — gave $3.6 million;
    lawyers gave $2.5 million; and donors from the TV, movie and music
    businesses gave $1.7 million, the center said.

  15. Scribe 15

    President Obama means you can feel slightly better in the knowledge that fewer children of the world are being maimed or killed.

    Well, depends what your definition of “children” is.

    Obama is reported to be about to reverse some of the Bush policies — and Reagan policies before that — that lowered the number of abortions. If you consider pre-born children to be children, he’s going to lead to more maimings and killings that you could imagine. (Source — CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/19/obama.abortion/)

    Here’s an interesting video: http://www.catholicvote.com/

    So, in answer to the question, “What does President Obama mean for you?”, I would respond MORE maimed and killed children, not LESS — I mean FEWER.

  16. I hope he brings an end to anti Americanism, I hope he brings peace and prosperity, I hope he has the world in better shape in four years, I hope he picks the economy up, I hope he brings back science and hard data into his decisions, I hope the world stops hating, I hope people want to do good because of him.

    I hope my young American relatives wont get dirty looks when they are here just because they are American, I hope I can go to a concert of an American artist in New Zealand without a protest group turning up.

    I hope the cards win the Superbowl, but that’s up to them, not Obama.

    Here’s wishing Obama all the best.

  17. Quoth the Raven 17

    Got my numbers round the wrong way 31.8% under Labour 32.4% under National.

    Scribe – That’s one improvement.

  18. r0b 18

    Obama to me means some vague hope that America may slow or even reverse its economic, environmental and moral decline.

    He talks a mean game, if I could believe all the words in his brilliant inauguration speech then I would believe that salvation had arrived. But he’s also an American politician, with all that that entails, so let’s just wait and see if his actions match his words.

    And in passing, although I usually think of Bono as a bit of a tosser, be did manage to slip in to the pre inauguration ceremonies probably the only unscripted and contentious (in the context of American politics) comment of the whole event, with his call for freedom for the people of Palestine. So props for that.

    Greetings from far away!

  19. Pascal's bookie 19

    Carol, the events today, excluding security, cost about 45 mill. Small donations were still a big part of that. All I am saying is that Obama has got more grass roots pressure than any dem in recent memory. He built an unprecedented machine that he has not switched off.

    There is an old story about Pres Johnson meeting with some civil rights reformers. He told them that he agreed with them, and wanted to help, but they had to make him do it. There is no argument that there are powerful forces resistant to change. Obama has to deal with them, and the best way of doing that is to have that machine that he has built attack him from the left, holding his feet to the fire. (Just like your cited article does).

    Tactics are going to be important. But at tyhe moment he has got polling numbers similar to what you see around a president after an attack. He’s got 60 plus percent of GOP voters saying that the GOP should not obstruct him. That’s some serious leverage.

    All I am saying is that I’m going to wait to see what he does, that I’ll pay more attention to action than rhetoric, that I expect him to be attacked from the left and that he will (privately) welcome that. If I’m right look for him to offer olive branches to the GOP, who being the GOP they will reject. More in sorrow than in anger Obama will then have to turn for support to the left of the Dem caucus. We saw this dynamic already with talks about the bailout structure and the role of tax cuts within it.

    I do not expect him to be anything other than a US centre left Liberal Democrat. But that’ll be better than the ‘triangulation’ and welfare reform we got from the last Dem president. No?

  20. Carol 20

    Well, PB, we now see President Clinton as being quite regressive. But I watched his first campaign and he promised pretty similar changes to those Obama is offering. He was the great white hope of the left, from outside the usual Washington power dynasties. And oh how disappointed many of us were. Clinton slid to the right pretty quickly after being elected.

    Obama has probaly led a much slicker PR machinery and maybe a better organised campaign than Bill Clinton (and I think that is as much due to his team as to Obama). But this may at least partly be accounted for by the way the world has become much more saturated with media and communications. Both Clinton and Obama started off being pretty to the left when young, and both have slipped more to the right as they got closer to the presidency. The US political power centre and system is bigger than any one man.

    Yes, I think public pressure from the left on Obama will probably have some effect, but I don’t know how much. Also there are always unexpected events and circumstances.

    I hope you’re right and Obama does do some good things, but I’m old enough to feel that we’ve been here before, and things don’t really change that much.

    Pablo’s post on this indicates that he (tentatively) judges Obama may not be able to resist the pressures from the GOP as much as you think. Pablo said:

    http://www.kiwipolitico.com/2009/01/the-moment/#comment-883

    Super-structurally, Obama will have to move hard center in order to deflect Republican opposition in Congress. The GOP attack machine has already sprung into action because that is what it does best: disloyally work to undermine and discredit its opposition rather than push a constructive policy agenda when in office (the Bush 43 administration is clear proof of that). Since Obama needs GOP congressional support to pass legislation and has only two years before the next round of congressional elections (with all of the House and 1/3 of the Senate seats in play), that requires him to “moderate’ his policy discourse to the right. Given the magnitude of the problems confronting him, that means he will have to engage in policy tradingi.e. granting concessions on some policy issues in exchange for pushing through others.

    My belief is that he will allow his foreign policy team to return to the Wilsonian pragmatism of previous Democratic administrations (as per my earlier post), which essentially means overall continuity of US foreign policy with a more multilateral and soft power orientation. Domestically it means giving up plans to drastically overhaul things like the health system and gun laws in exchange for GOP moderation on otherwise “hot button’ issues like gay marriage and abortion rights (of course, the reverse might occurit is still too early to tell how the causal flow will go).

  21. Whero 21

    Some egg said:

    “The standard may be left, but it normally has a fair amount of intelligence behind it. This was just a dumb post.”

    Bollocks! That cartoon alone is worth a thousand words. Maybe you didn’t get it?

  22. You guys can do better than this piece. I few posts ago you were criticizing John Armstrong’s gushing piece on John Key, and now you’re doing the same over Obama.

    [lprent: Different authors. People post on what they feel like. In fact I think I’ll write one just to prove it…]

  23. Pascal's bookie 23

    Yeah I read that. I agree that the GOP will be the GOP. They think that McCain lost because he was not Conservative enough. I think that is flat out crazy. The GOP ran their attacks on an African American named Barack Hussein Obama, called him a closet Muslim, communist who lied on his birth certificate and wants to eat babies and surrender to AQ at some sort of ceremony in Tehran. America laughed at them. He won N Carolina.

    I think that particular boat has sailed for the GOP. It’s 20 years since that stuff worked on Bill Clinton. People are sick of it. The dynamics have changed in that people have had years and years of what the GOP has to offer, going back to Reagan, and they don’t like the results.

    My biggest concern is that AQ now actually have strategic reasons to hit America at home again. The last thing they want is an America that refocuses on diplomacy and away from hard power. How he deals with that, if AQ can pull something off, will be his biggest domestic test.

    But in any case, we’ll find out, and I’m enjoying watching master class in politics play out. Whatever you think of him, he’s a skilled operator.

  24. Carol 24

    Well, yes it’s interesting. I don’t know how much is due to Obama, and how much it is the team behind him. US politics for the public focuses on personalities, but it is always about more than one person. Obama’s campaign team included a load of people who’d worked for Bill Clinton. Maybe they learned a few valuable lessons during Bill’s term.

  25. Pascal's bookie 25

    Carol, Agree on all points.

    I don’t know if you read the blog Obsidian Wings, but if you don’t, it’s excellent. ‘Hilzoy’ is a prof of ethics at John Hopkins University, and the other bloggers there are also all worth reading.

    This post from today is the sort of thing that I’m glad to see happen.

    http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2009/01/hopeful-signs.html

  26. After all of the hoohah I missed the actual broadcast speech.. asleep at the instrument(no, not wheel) you might say, and found myself taking in the pretty useful coverage RNZ had put up on its summer report slot. At first hearing I was struck with the President’s declaration that ideals as well as homeland security were essentially what his administration would pursue. BTW(ref Kevin et al) in that regard – allowing for the obvious constraints of inaugural address, he delivered. The essential first iteration that is.

    Tonight.. rested some.. I heard how the BBC’s World Briefing on RNZ had caught on to the very same thing. Congratulations to them! Else thematic throughout the IA was the call to responsibility—that americans and all others take charge of their doings, dealings. Seriously.

    I think Eddie’s fourth point has gotten closest to this.

    Kevin: your antipathy to Keynesian problem-solving is strongly expressed. Takes fair claim to freedom of expression. But where is the weight to it? Without that you’ll be regarded as nought but a blusterer..

  27. Pascal's bookie 27

    And this is made of awesome:

    As his first official action after being sworn in, President Barack Obama signed three documents Tuesday, including a proclamation declaring a day of national renewal and reconciliation.

    “I’m a lefty. Get used to it,” Obama quipped as he signed his name. “I was told not to swipe the pen.

    hehe.

  28. killingingthenameof 28

    To me Obama has the intelligence to conduct his job with the dignity that the President of the United States of America deserves.

  29. mike 29

    “President Obama tells us as New Zealanders that we don’t have to settle for the mediocrity and moral ambiguity ”

    No mate – that was John Key. Same age, sex and up bringing but different accents.

  30. vto 30

    pour moi, obama is quite a way down the import standard. there are a many more things of grater gravity in our existence.

    but as others say, for others it is obviously a major event. especially within the confines of the american history and culture. and good on them i say. three cheers.

    but imagine if it had been a native american indian taking the stage … now that would have been something …

  31. Carol 31

    PB, from today’s speech, and others Obama seems to be continuing with a pretty strong US imperialist and neoliberal agenda. I don’t think I can stand to read yet more people (especially on the left), cheering Obama on while he does this. He seems to see the US as leading the world in democracy etc. And the role of the UN?

    It will be a softer face for individualistic capitalism and imperialism…. all the easier to sell it. In NZ terms, Obama and many in his team are further right than Labour usually is.

    Can we have more critique form the NZ left, rather than so many people purring at all Obama’s positive PR and slick rhetoric?

  32. Whero 32

    Mike said:

    . . . Obama + “John Key. Same age, sex and up bringing but different accents.”

    Different country. Different race, Different primary care giver. Different set of siblings. Different access to state assistance. And, anyway, if John Key had done drugs he wouldn’t be such a complete Goober.

  33. Pascal's bookie 33

    An American is he? 😉

    No offense, Carol, but I don’t think it’s useful to judge American Presidents on where they stand in relation to the NZ political spectrum.

    Perhaps you think rhetoric is unimportant. If so we disagree. As I see it, rhetoric is what builds mandates and wins elections. It is what, over time, shifts the political centre and changes minds. Obama has just today used the results of his slick PR and rhetoric to put the military commissions in gitmo on notice, ‘requesting’ a 120 day suspension while he reviews procedures and the status of ‘prisoners etc. Tomorrow he has indicated that he will tell the Joint chiefs that their new mission in Iraq is withdrawal (yes this will take time, but that was always the case). His appointments in Justice and the in Legal Counsel are all on the record vigorously opposing torture and the unitary executive theory that has enabled so much horrible crap these last 8 years. These are concrete things that make me smile.

    In short, I make no apologies for being pleased that Bush has fucked off back to Texas, and that his replacement is a damn sight better.

    I’m not a fan of making the perfect the enemy of the good.

  34. Janet 34

    Obama is an enabler. He won’t be the saviour that everyone is looking for. But he already has set the climate for hope and new possibilities- so people can at least be nice to each other now. The rest is up to them.

  35. We’ll have to wait until 2011 for our hope. Most New Zealanders have no clue about how disasterous the next couple of years are going to be under National.

  36. Lew 36

    vto: Do you mean `native American’?

    I mostly accord with PB on this account. Whereas the previous administration (and to an extent the clinton administration, too) was inclined to push people in the direction they want to go, Obama has signalled he intends to lead, and his task is now to convince the world to follow. He has made strong symbolic and rhetorical gestures that he intends the US to rejoin the civilised world; now he needs policy to make it so. We’ll see how that plays.

    L

  37. Carol 37

    Lew said:

    Obama has signalled he intends to lead, and his task is now to convince the world to follow.

    Surely this is a problem. Obama is continuing with traditional US imperialist arrogance. I don’t want a world led by the US version of indivualistic (propbably still neoliberal) capitalism. I do expect him to be a lot better than Bush and counter many of the bad things Bush’s government did (thank goodness). I don’t expect him to be that different from past US Democrat presidents, who have always leant towards the centre of the left. That will not do very much towards the kind of world I would like to see.

    Glad to hear of the quick moves on Guantanomo and Palestine-Israel.

    I hope the left in the US and elsewhere WILL be crtical when necessary and put pressure on the Obama government when it falls short of working towards a more equal, more peaceful, more sustainable, more cooperative, more UN-negotiated, less-consumerist, less US imperialist-dominated, less corporate dominated and less individualistic world.

  38. Tigger 38

    But didn’t Michelle look nice?

    If you want to see shite in action read extracts from Key’s letter to Obama.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10553006
    I actually sicked up in my mouth while reading it.

  39. Lew 39

    Carol: Obama is continuing with traditional US imperialist arrogance.

    No. Traditional (postwar) US `imperialist arrogance’ as you characterise it has been a bully state driving truculent other states along with the threat of a big (economic or military) stick. Obama has signalled that he intends to go ahead, and encourage the world follow if they will. That’s quite different.

    That will not do very much towards the kind of world I would like to see.

    Political change (especially in the US) must be gradual. It’s an immensely complicated system, and nothing gets done without getting a vast number of power blocs, both formal and informal, and frequently with highly contradictory agendas, on board. But once it starts to move, it takes a lot of stopping. Be patient; the first term is about nothing more than laying the groundwork of political culture for a second term. If Obama can achieve half of what he’s promised he’ll be the greatest progressive president since FDR. (Whether he can or not is another question).

    L

  40. Carol 40

    Well, I think we’re never going to agree on this, Lew. US imperialism has been advanced in the past by both persuasion and bullying in varying degrees. A lot of Obama’s rhetoric is about restoring US patriotic pride in the superiority of their version of “democratic” liberal capitalism.

    Actually, on further reflection I have modified my position a little. Obama seems to be breaking with some US traditional straties, though I think the aims and values remain pretty traditional. He seems to be recrafting and adapting US imperialism to the characteristics of networked, informational capitalism – ie recasting to be more effective in the contemporary context.

    There will be some improvements and benefits in this (especially in contrast to the evils of the Bush term), but, ultimately it is limited by its ambition for a strong US world power that aims perpetuate it’s values international.

    For instance, I’m pleased to see Obama talk to a Palestinian leader, but he seems to be continuing with the Israeli project of marginalising Hamas.

    Time will tell, of course. My big worry is the apparent seductivness of the Obama personality cult (something that somehow misses me), IMO this seduction seems to undermine and sideline serious examination and critique of the Obama campaign and government’s approach and agenda. I am very suspicious of such strategies because they are deeply related to consumer-capitalist, branding techniques of persuasion & seduction, not to mention corporate and elite dominated politics, in spite of all the activities that invite participation by ordinary people.

    If Lew and PB turn out to be right, then we’ll have a much better world: I’ll celebrate it and admit I was wrong. But if I am at least close to being right, there could be a dangerous lack of necessary critical appraisal of US policies and practices, and continuation of many of the major ills that are besetting this world.

  41. Chris G 41

    Tigger,

    It sounds like an appaling letter from those snippets in the article.

    Maybe he should have sent Obama that tourism NZ video he did on youtube in the salmon shirt…. Oh wait, that got deleted because one of his staffers would have shaken their heads and got rid of it.

  42. higherstandard 42

    Are you chaps reading the same article as me ?

    “Mr Key has told Mr Obama in a letter of congratulations that he could count on New Zealand “to be a good friend and a partner” on challenges ahead.

    He said New Zealand looked forward to continuing talks on trade following the decision of the United States to join the Pacific four agreement last year, as well as Australia, Peru and Vietnam.

    Among other issues Mr Key singled out for New Zealand interest was the global economic crisis, the threat of international terrorism, climate change and what he termed “non-proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction”.

    “Your leadership will be crucial in moving key issues forward,” Mr Key said.

    On the face of it those seem to be fairly reasonable comments to put in a congratulatory letter to Obama.

  43. Lew 43

    Carol: Yeah, this is something upon which reasonable people can (and should) disagree; fundamentally I think it comes down to how much compromise you’re prepared to stomach in the name of gradual proress. For me: quite a lot.

    A couple of other things, though:

    My big worry is the apparent seductivness of the Obama personality cult (something that somehow misses me), IMO this seduction seems to undermine and sideline serious examination and critique of the Obama campaign and government’s approach and agenda.

    Up until the inauguration, most Obama supporters have still been in campaign mode. Once he starts enacting policy, you’ll see criticism, because you can’t run a country like the US without pissing someone off. Some of it will for a time be muted on the grounds that it’s the lesser of two evils (and you’re right that there’s a danger in this), but not all.

    I am very suspicious of such strategies because they are deeply related to consumer-capitalist, branding techniques of persuasion & seduction, not to mention corporate and elite dominated politics

    If such strategies work to put moderate or progressive leaders in power to enact moderate or progressive policy agendas when the alternative is neoliberal or conservative statist leaders like those we’ve just seen leave, then progressives are fools if they don’t embrace them. Because if they work, and all indications are that they do, when one side uses it and the other eschews it on the grounds that it’s impure, they relegate their cause to the political doldrums. Not to say they shouldn’t embrace other strategies as well – but then, the Obama campaign did.

    L

  44. Carol 44

    Hmmm… I thought my last post disappeared off my screen without being posted. But there it is.

    My biggest concern is with the US imperialist project, which came across quite strong to me in the inauguration speech. Obama is very centrist, and with that imperialism, probably there will be a continuation of a version of individualistic neoliberalism internationally.

    Kind of like Obama will become the good cop to Bush’s bad cop, with so many of us grateful Obama’s so much better than Bush. It will depend a lot on how much of Bush’s legislation will be pulled back eg the ant-terrorism laws, which went beyond the US so that we got a verson in NZ. And the paranoid increase in surveillance.

  45. NickC 45

    “President Obama means you’ve got a better chance of keeping your job in the tourist or agriculture industry.”

    Obama will be the most protectionist President since the 30’s. Whether his recovery package will help the American economy is debateable, but there is no doubt that the increased tarriff part of his package will harm the New Zealand economy.

  46. HS 46

    And if a plane load of jihadists fly into the empire state building and Obama begins to put his diplomatic skills ahead of national security he’ll be out on his sorry ass!

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