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Giles Slade Headshot

A New Obama Sweeps Clean

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Cutting Hillary Clinton dead in the Senate was a brave and necessary move for Barack Obama and the photo worked so well. There she was, gormless and desperate with her hand outstretched to the disappearing back of a man who had just received JFK's legacy. 'I just ain't got it', the photo seems to say.

And then, there he was, Obama, acting like he really had it, and that he had just left her in the dust. (Bill was elsewhere wincing).

In the three-ringed circus of American politics, this signals quite a few things: first, Obama is much bigger news than George Bush and can easily steal a headline out from under the president at one of the Oval Office's few remaining events: (lame duckism was never so lame).

Second, with a victory in South Carolina and the Kennedy family's endorsements firmly under his belt, Obama has begun visibly to force the issue of candidate choice among the members of his own party. To do this he needs to draw a firm line between the old politics of dynasticism and cronyism and whatever this new thing is.

So while Obama is saying, "Clinton² is a past we must reject," at the same time that he is also saying "although in substance and style, Clinton² is no different than Bush², here I am, America and I am different. Ted Kennedy has chosen his presidential candidate, and now so should you. The tide is turning. Only months remain. Don't get left behind. Walk into the future with me, the Kennedys and universal healthcare!'

I think snubbing Hillary was a very conscious choice and I really like the balls it took. I also believe it was a genuine gesture, and as such it promises great things. It has me wondering what America would be like if it once again found a politician willing to risk form for principle, willing to say 'this is the way things are, everybody knows it. Let's be real and lets fix some real problems.'

God knows there are enough of those.

Jack Kennedy, of course, was a relatively insignificant senator who ran against a dweeb and then expanded in stature upon stepping into the Oval Office. It was a big deal in those days that he was Catholic, but this is the 21st century, right? After Colin Powell and Condi Rice does anybody notice that Barack dances better than Bill Clinton?

As president, Jack Kennedy surrounded himself with a 'brains trust' who kept him honest; and with their advice he achieved the uncompromising style of leadership that probably got him killed. My worst fear now is that Obama will become as much of a threat to vested interests (aka Big Oil), and the status quo generally as JFK was. I mean, it needs to happen, but I wish the man a long, productive life so that he can appoint Al Gore head of the EPA, and so that America can lead the world out of the difficult century of climate change that has already begun. The war on terror and the one in Iraq will fade in a few short years. But then a much poorer America will be left to deal with the recurring and costly devastation of climate change. Imagine a Hurricane Katrina happening several times a year...

So, who you gonna call?

Choice(A): The wife of a cynical old pol who would like to represent 51% of Americans (but doesn't), and who seems bent on modelling herself on Eva Peron.

OR

Choice (B): a completely new broom who's beginning to show more and more promise and who might just sweep clean?

It's decision-time, America.