Bush welcomes Obama to the heart of America's home field

advantage: the White House Oval Office



Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland

'Why I Envy Americans Their Obama'


"What I envy Americans the most is that their politicians base their careers and activities on a painstakingly prepared intellectual foundation. … I envy Americans their political engagement, which doesn't exhaust itself with the act of voting or posting election fliers."


By Magdalena Środa



Translated By Halszka Czarnocka


November 6, 2008


Gazeta Wyborcza - Poland - Original Article (Polish)

The old man meets the new man: Barack Obama arrives at the White House for his first tour as incoming tenant, Nov. 10.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Raw video footage of Obama's arrival at the White House, Nov. 11, 00:01:19RealVideo

I envy them their electoral emotions, hopes for reforming the administration of their government, the political culture and personalities of their candidates.


One could say that the campaign was shallow, the promises made were empty and that the candidates avoided substance, but it can also be argued that like the ancient Greeks, for whom politics was a great Agon [struggle ], elections for Americans are a battlefield of words where personalities clash free of party agendas and boring economic details. Neither of the candidates hired a Jacek Kurski to his staff [see below], so instead of a Wehrmacht grandfather, we were treated to a real grandma from Hawaii.


[Editor's Note: Jacek Kurski, a Rove-like figure from PiS Party [the right-wing Law and Justice Party] who, in the heat of the Polish presidential election, accused President Kaczyński’s opponent, now-Prime Minister Donald Tusk, of being an ancestor of a man who had served in the German Army during World War II. Tusk hails from Kashubia, a minority region that was classified German during the Nazi occupation and was routinely drafted into the German military during the war. German occupation was so horrific that it still evokes a visceral reaction in most Poles. The charge was especially insidious, since in reality Tusk’s grandfather seems to have escaped the German army after a few months and probably joined the Polish Army exiled in the West, although the documents are murky. Whatever relevance one thinks a person's grandfather has on a candidate's political fitness, the charge may have cost Tusk the presidency].


There were also no personal files abused, no insinuations from the secret service, no private mutual resentments, no mutual hatreds. If there were any, they were deeply and skillfully hidden. The campaign was essentially free of below-the-belt tricks and didn't undercut the level of political debate.


[The Australian, Australia]


I envy Americans such politicians - those who not only have something to say that arrests and electrifies a crowd, but who can also construct sentences properly - even elegantly - while mastering their body language, so that it exudes positive energy instead of showing their complexes and mistrust toward the world [a jab at president Kaczynski]. In spite of not sympathizing with McCain, I've always listened to him with great interest, since he knew what he was talking about and his style of political fighting was classy and inspired respect.


What I envy Americans the most is that their politicians base their careers and activities on a painstakingly prepared intellectual foundation and surround themselves with excellent aides: well-educated people who think as much about the success of “their man” as they do about the continuity of the country and the common good. They are more than just good PR specialists. There are fewer brash youngsters among them caring only for their own careers, and fewer lunatics that use the secret service to crush their opponents.



Gazeta Wyborcza front page, November 6, 2008 [Click for Larger Version]


BBC NEWS VIDEO: The planet reacts to Obama's victory, Nov. 5, 00:04:09RealVideo

A change of president doesn't imply a radical "moral” revolution (in terms of human resources) at every level of the government in the United States, and this is due as much to the Constitution and institutional constraints as to political culture. In American politics - and from the Polish perspective this might seem quaint - what counts is competence, education, skill and the experience of people who work for the President, rather than their personal ambition and ability to deliver blows below the belt.


And finally, I envy Americans their political engagement, which doesn't exhaust itself with the act of voting or posting election fliers. Americans debate, go door to door and travel to different states in order to convert others to their point of view. This is how a political culture is born and a capital of social trust is established, which, irrespective of who wins the election, remains an important national asset - a thing Poland still painfully lacks.


And, obviously, I envy them their Obama.














































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 10, 6:19pm]