Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Obama's Historic Win and Rahm Israel Emanuel
Barack Obama's victory is truly a historic moment for all Americans and a great example for the world at large. Mr. Obama's margin of victory was the largest since Lyndon Johnson's election as president in 1964. And if he runs the country as well as he ran his campaign, he does have a chance of becoming a very successful leader of the greatest nation on earth.
Obama's election represents a turning point for the people of color in the US. It is noteworthy that, in spite of their labeling of US as racist, the Europeans have yet to elect a person of color to the highest office in their lands.
A poll today asked both white and black American parents, "Can your child grow up to be president of the US?" Over 70% of blacks responded in the affirmative versus only 46% of whites.
Regarding McCain, I would say that he is a hero and a class act, even in his defeat. He was gracious and said, "This is an historic election. I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans, for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
"I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too," McCain added.
"Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country, and I applaud him for it and offer him his sincere sympathy his beloved grandmother did not see him on this day," he said.
I believe Americans have very high expectations of their new president. They are looking for more than "change". I think they are looking for a "revolution". With two wars, a sputtering economy and ballooning national debt, it'll be tough for Obama to deliver on the promise of peace and prosperity any time soon. Obama will have to manage these expectations to succeed, after the initial euphoria is over. Though he has the goodwill of Americans and the world, his honeymoon period will not last long.
In terms of preparing to govern, I find that Obama's first appointment is not very encouraging.
President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday offered the job of White House chief of staff to Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who reportedly accepted the offer. This is Obama's first and most important appointment.
The White House Chief of Staff is an extremely powerful position, setting the agenda and controlling access to the president.
Rahm Emanuel's appointment as White of House Chief of Staff has drawn widespread criticism from those who want real change. Emanuel, with close connections to AIPAC, was a leading supporter of Bush's Iraq invasion. In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush. He has strongly reacted to the mildest of criticism of Israel. In June 2003, for example, he signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. "We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror," Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush. The letter said that Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders "was clearly justified as an application of Israel's right to self-defense".
According to a report in Jerusalem Post, Emanuel is the Chicago-born son of Israelis. The 48-year-old Emanuel is a member of the Orthodox Jewish community of Chicago and grew up speaking Hebrew with his father, a pediatrician who was a member of Irgun, the Jewish resistance in Palestine that committed acts of terror and atrocities against the Palestinians to drive them out in 1948. During the Gulf War in 1991, Emanuel went to Israel to serve as a civilian volunteer. Emanuel holds dual citizenship of US and Israel.
Rahm Emanuel's father, Benjamin, yesterday refused to comment on the report that his son was appointed White House chief of staff. He told Haaretz that he would only comment after speaking to his son.
"Obama is a pro-Israeli leader and will be a friend to Israel," he said, adding that he was pleased with Obama's election. He also said his son is the namesake of Rahamim, a Lehi combatant who was killed. Lehi was described as a terrorist organization by the British authorities and United Nations mediator Ralph Bunche. The Israeli government banned the organization under an anti-terrorism law passed three days after Lehi assassinated UN mediator Folke Bernadotte. Lehi was also responsible for the assassination of Lord Moyne along with other attacks on the British authorities and Palestinian Arabs.
Obama will need all his skills and a set of close aides to prioritize and focus on a few key things, and not be distracted by the cacophony and chaos of his fellow Democrats in Congress from different wings of his party. He will be tested on both domestic and international fronts. There is a lesson for Obama from the early days of Clinton administration's first term that was marred by missteps leading to the defeat of Clinton's healthcare agenda and the loss of Democratic majority in Congress during his first term. Obama needs to avoid the temptation of trying to do too much too quickly in his first 100 days.
Here's are two video clips about "Who is Rahm Emanuel?"