The Obama stampede

Frank Rich has written a brilliant, analytical editorial describing the stampede to join the Obama camp in “How Obama Became Acting President” (NYT 27 July 2008). McCain has lost a lot of ground this month as Obama turns, more and more, into the man of the moment.

Here’s an extract with translations (mouseover the highlighted words).

It almost seems like a gag worthy of “Borat”: A smooth-talking rookie senator with an exotic name passes himself off as the incumbent American president to credulous foreigners. But to dismiss Barack Obama’s magical mystery tour through old Europe and two war zones as a media-made fairy tale would be to underestimate the ingenious politics of the moment. History was on the march well before Mr. Obama boarded his plane, and his trip was perfectly timed to reap the whirlwind.

He never would have been treated as a president-in-waiting by heads of state or network talking heads if all he offered were charisma, slick rhetoric and stunning visuals. What drew them instead was the raw power Mr. Obama has amassed: the power to start shaping events and the power to move markets, including TV ratings. (Even “Access Hollywood” mustered a 20 percent audience jump by hosting the Obama family.) Power begets more power, absolutely.

(…) This election remains about the present and the future, where Iraq’s $10 billion a month drain on American pocketbooks and military readiness is just one moving part in a matrix of national crises stretching from the gas pump to Pakistan.

(…)  Looking back now, we can see that the fortnight preceding the candidate’s flight to Kuwait was like a sequence in an old movie where wind blows away calendar pages to announce an epochal plot turn. First, on July 7, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, dissed Bush dogma by raising the prospect of a withdrawal timetable for our troops. Then, on July 15, Mr. McCain suddenly noticed that more Americans are dying in Afghanistan than Iraq and called for more American forces to be sent there. It was a long-overdue recognition of the obvious that he could no longer avoid: both Robert Gates, the defense secretary, and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had already called for more American troops to battle the resurgent Taliban, echoing the policy proposed by Mr. Obama a year ago.

(…) The election remains Mr. Obama’s to lose, and he could lose it, whether through unexpected events, his own vanity or a vice-presidential misfire. But what we’ve learned this month is that America, our allies and most likely the next Congress are moving toward Mr. Obama’s post-Iraq vision of the future, whether he reaches the White House or not.

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

4 thoughts on “The Obama stampede”

  1. hier noch mal direkt an dich, weil ich das mit dem hin und her und ping und trackback noch nicht richtig kapiert habe… :-)
    und dann gleich die fragen: englisches blog, perfekt deutscher comment bei mir… wie kommts?

    hey anne… das ist super, das klingeln meine ich! :-) und du hast absolut und völlig recht, das sagt ja der süddeutsche-artikel im unteren teil auch… ich würde sagen, wir machen ein stöckchen daraus, unsere ganz persönliche liste, der zehn einflussreichsten leute (aus unserem kulturraum, also sagen wir deutschsprachig), die nie gelebt haben… schick sie mir und schick sie weiter und wenn alle sie auch an mich weiter geben, sammele ich sie und … schreib vielleicht ein buch drüber… los gehts! :-)

  2. Hi Frank und willkommen :-)
    Ich bin zweisprachig aufgewachsen und habe zwei Seelen – hach! – in meiner Brust. Ich geb’ den Auftrag hier weiter:

    A question for you German readers:
    Who are the ten most influential people who never lived?
    I thought they might include Pippi Langstrumpf, Faust and Mephisto… but then, you see, I grew up in the US and learned about Germany from children’s books, so my list looks quite different. Please post your ideas over at Landeplatz der Engel.

  3. … du hast zwei und andere haben nicht einmal eine… aber das ist ein anderes thema… und ich war natürlich wieder ein bisschen schnell und hätte es mir mit genauer lesen auch denken können… :-) ich setz dich mal auf meine blogroll und dann guck ich auch noch genauer, falls ich neben dieser ganzen blog-aktion jemals dazu komme, ob ich mein englisch nicht doch mal aufmöbeln sollte…

  4. Viel Erfolg mit deinem Blog, Frank! I’ll add you to my list, too.
    Tourette and other phenomena of the mind interest me. I admire the work of Oliver Sacks, whose books have helped me understand them a little better. Aber das geht offenbar auch mit einem Roman 😉

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