Monday, November 17, 2008

How Barack can show some courage

"Have any of you ever seen a picture of Mr Obama, a heavy smoker, with a cigarette in his mouth? No, nor have I. Why is that?"

asks my friend Peter Hitchens in his weekly column.

Well, Peter, just for you, there's a picture of Obama smoking above, but it's true that he hasn't been pictured smoking for a long while. Is he intimidated by the anti-smoking fanatics who will denounce him as a man not fit to be President if he is seen to light up in public? (thank goodness they weren't around in the days of FDR and Winston Churchill, otherwise the Allies would never have won the Second World War).

There's been a lot of talk recently about whether Obama has courage, and he can show that he does by following the example of Maggie Gyllenhaal, this blog's choice for President in 2012 and light up live on prime-time tv.

But there's a second even more important thing he can do to show us all that he's courageous. And that's to resist the growing pressure- being asserted by certain powerful interest groups- to appoint the neocon's favourite Democrat Hillary the Hawk as Secretary of State. People voted for Obama because they wanted a clean break with the aggressive, pro-war policies of the past. Appointing a woman who played such a key role in the illegal NATO aggression against Yugoslavia in 1999, who supported the equally unlawful Iraq war, and who has threatened to "obliterate" Iran, would be a betrayal of all those ordinary Americans who wanted something different.

Don't do it, Barack.


Anonymous said...

Neil, you should change your picture above to one where you smoke...

David Lindsay said...

People who had wanted the Clinton-Bush foreign policy agenda to continue seamlessly as the Clinton-Bush-Clinton foreign policy agenda could have given her the Democratic nomination, which she failed to secure.

The attempt to set up a non-contest between Clinton-Bush-Clinton and Clinton-Bush-McCain was mercifully unsuccessful. And Clinton-Bush-McCain was then defeated by Obama.

However, not wishing to see Hillary The Hawk as Secretary of State is not the same as not wishing to see her as anything at all.

The creation of a Senate vacancy in New York could well be very good news indeed for a Democrat whose economic populism and whose foreign policy realism had secured the nomination of the Working Families Party.

A Democrat whose moral and social conservatism and (one trusts, now that Bush is as good as gone) whose foreign policy realism had secured the nomination of the Conservative Party.

A Democrat whose economic populism, moral and social conservatism, and foreign policy realism had united the warring factions of the Independence Party in unanimous nomination.

The election of such a Democrat, especially in place of Hillary Clinton of all people, would send exactly the right signal.

Speaking of signals, my blog will, where possible, keep people posted.

olching said...

Maggie Gyllenhaal is fantastic. I must say, whenever a politicians smokes, I tend to give him/her the benefit of the doubt (please, people, no Stalin comments). There's something immensely human about them. The same with drink. If politicians aren't afraid to say they enjoy a drink once in a while, they are immediately in my good books. Tony Blair, of course, did neither.

This is why I like Charlie Kennedy. He likes a smoke and drink. By the way, Helmut Schimdt, the former chancellor of Germany will only do interviews if he is allowed to smoke on the set. It is illegal to do so now in Germany, but they make an exception for their former chancellor. If Winston Churchill were still alive, I suspect he'd be insist on smoking on Newsnight (yet knowing the superpuritan environment here in Britain at the moment, they'd probably refuse him).

Shall we start a petition to get Schmidt on Question Time or Newsnight?

On a more serious note: Hillary the Hawk is extremely worrying and yet, Neil, for old cynic olching it is not surprising. As I've been warning, Obama is looking like the man to really turn up the speed on the freedom and democracy crusade and force through 'globalisation with a human face'.

I have watched the 'change' mantra with some disgust and horror; a media-spun brand akin to Tony Blair's tenure. Obama may have more 'left-wing' home policies (none of which I particularly care about as a European), but his foreign policy and philosophy is liberal and hawkish. he is surrounded by Brzezinski, Robert Gates, Colin Powell, Adelman, and now possibly Hillary.

Anyway, one of the better sceptical articles on this is John Pilger's in the New Statesman, Don't believe the hype:

Neil Clark said...

mr smoketoomuch:
nice idea
david: thanks.
olching: agreed. that's why ken clarke would have been so much preferable as Tory leader instead of Dave, not to mention the fact that he opposed the Iraq war.
My only gripe with Charlie K is that he bowed to pressure from within his own party to vote for the smoking ban.
The campaign to get Helmut Schmidt on QT starts here. Let's get a petition organised!
thanks for the JP link.

Anonymous said...

President-elect Obama is already being told he will have to give up his Blackberry upon inauguration.

Having to give up two addictions at once is asking a lot of anyone...

I'm not so sure it's a good idea for a President to stop smoking while in office. I don't want anyone with access to nuclear weapons to be going through nicotine withdrawal.

Anonymous said...

I had thought that Bill Richardson was supposed to be the favorite as secretary of state, and then I heard Richard Holbrooke and finally Hillary were in the lead. Of the last two, I don't know who is worse. The are both blatant war mongers.

I do think, however, that Richardson would make a great secretary of state. He is low key and seems dovish. But ultimately the appointment itself does not matter. Bush appointed Powell as his first secretary of state, and whenever he advocated diplomacy, the President just ignored him. I also hope that President Obama does not involve Biden too much in policy and just leaves him for ceremonial duties. Biden, Hillary, and Holbrooke are just like Christopher Hitchens in that none of them ever saw a war they didn't like.

Neil Clark said...

good point, douglas. can we count you in in the Maggie Gyllenhaal for President campaign, btw?

vladimir: agreed, Richardson would be the best choice. Holbrooke as sec. of state doesn't bear thinking about!