[Basler Zeitung, Switzerland]



L'Orient Le Jour, Lebanon

'Astonishing Americans:' The Land of Possibilities


"An unknown even four years ago, a leader has been born who through the magic of his words has enabled all of us, beyond his nation's borders, to imagine that we're all Americans, in solidarity at last after having been divided for so long. … But the words, as exhilarating as they may be, will not suffice. Nor will promises of a better tomorrow if they take too long to materialize."


By Christian Merville


Translated By Sandrine Ageorges


November 6, 2008


Democracy is coming to the USA

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street

The holy places where the races meet


(Leonard Cohen: Democracy - The Future)


Lebanon - L'Orient Le Jour  - Home Page - (French)

That disconcerting America, which had given us the worst: George W. Bush, has just offered us - we want to believe so badly - the best . Astonishing Americans, who know so well how to bounce back and make us forget the past eight years of disastrous wrongdoing. Unadventurous Europe, which looked like an orphan without a leader yesterday, today appears relieved to see the burden assumed again on the other side of the Atlantic.


Was history made this Tuesday, November 4th 2008? Indeed, and one must hope a lot more. Undoubtedly it will take a little longer to realize its importance, with the abolition of racial segregation only forty years ago. The fact that the hero of this historic event comes from Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln, confers a particular radiance upon him. For a few brief moments, it was this radiance that was found once again reflected in the eyes of these men, and these women, who awoke to a sunrise over Chicago, and who went to hear this man speak with Churchillian accents, of the arduous path that awaits them.


An Obama supporter burst into tears as it became clear that

the Democratic candidate was on a path to victory, in Harlem.


The miracle is that this is a country which has reconciled with itself after a very long estrangement has a renewed hope for a better future. This, just when everything seemed grey and the most sacred principles - those of democracy, freedom and free enterprise - had lost all meaning. They were distorted in Guantanamo, Kandahar and the land of Palestine. The new President pounded away: “Yes we can,” and the crowd echoed these three magic words with a kind of exaltation, a catharsis after the great fear of the previous weeks. He also said: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.” And we could see the answer - in Grant Park in Chicago, below a sea of waving flags, in the tears rolling down every cheek. All because a leader was born, an unknown only four years ago, who through the magic of his words has enabled us all, beyond his nation's borders, to imagine that we're all Americans, in solidarity at last after having been divided for so long.


But let us descend to earth, since this is about politics and its most unsavory feature: the electoral process. Without taking anything away from the grandeur of the moment nor the power of Barack Obama’s charisma, let us take note that this victory comes thanks to the geniuses of the Democratic Party who designed, down to the finest detail, a campaign that allowed him to win all the big states except for Texas, which was more due to Bush that anything: California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, far more than the number of votes needed, for a grand total of 349 electoral votes, a landslide unprecedented for a long time.


Objectivity obliges us to recognize that they were assisted by their Republican colleagues, who designed a path that ran through the gutter, marked by mean tactics which reached their worst and were crowned - but we owe this to the GOP candidate himself - by the disastrous choice of Sarah Palin who, despite all of her handicaps, managed to get the fifteen minutes of global fame that was once promised to all by Andy Warhol . The most distressing part was that his supporters no longer recognized John McCain, who was a universally respected political figure, having been a war prisoner of the Vietcong and who certainly deserved better than the undignified role that was conferred upon him.  



And then of course, how can one doubt that this longest campaign in American history - and the most expensive - will shortly be the subject of political science courses, as it was put recently by Theodore H. White, author of a monumental series entitled The Making of the President? [The fours books were written after four consecutive U.S. elections, from 1961-1973 ].


Once the crashing cymbals of victory are forgotten and the studious period of transition is over, the time will come for the global community to address the challenges posed by a moribund economy, terrorism that is more threatening than ever, a planet short of oxygen and a society without true leadership. For the United States, it will be about cutting taxes, getting out of the Iraqi and Afghan quagmires and rendering the health care system more accessible - challenges that were cowardly ignored by the previous administration. So the words, as exhilarating as they may be, will not suffice. Nor will promises of a better tomorrow, if they take too long to materialize. The disappointment could be as cruel as the great hopes that were raised when everything seemed possible.




































[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US November 8, 12:20Am]