Obama’s time

Tomasz Musial

On 20 January the host of the White House, build by slaves, became the first Afro-American Barack Obama, 47 year old. The inauguration was an exceptional event. In Washington over two million people watched it and hundreds of millions saw it on television all over the world. One of the Italian press agencies claims that even Pope Benedict XVI watched the ceremony. History was happening before people’s eyes. Something that nobody would have dreamt of four years ago. A son of a Kenyan immigrant became the 44th President of the United States of America. Earlier, in the pre-elections he won over the dead cert favourite, the wife of the former president Hilary Clinton. Then he decisively won over the experienced candidate of the Republicans John McCain. Naturally, the dislike of the society towards President George W. Bush helped Obama. Bush left the White House with a record-breaking low popularity.

Hope of the world

Almost the whole world supported Obama. A columnist of ‘New York Times’ wrote that if the US President had been elected in the entire world he would have knocked down any opponent. He was strongly supported by anti-Bush European elites and poor inhabitants of Africa for whom the black candidate personified their still unfulfilled hopes for justice. The Muslims, counting for more friendly politics towards the world of Islam, and the leaders fighting for freedom of manners hoping to make him support killing of the unborn or homosexual marriages, were in favour of his election. People representing various economic, social and cultural barricades supported him as well. Looking at some reactions we dealt with almost ‘divine glorification’, which as if a nimbus surrounded the 44th US President all over the world.

Man with charisma

The weakness of the Republican candidate and the support of the international public opinion are not, however, the reasons and perhaps not even the main reasons of the victory of Barack Obama. The decisive element was Obama’s charisma, which drew several thousand people to meetings and numerous volunteers to his offices. The latter worked day and night for the victory of their candidate. This exceptional ability was confirmed on 20 January on the National Mall in Washington where millions of people were gathered and there were masses of TV viewers listening to his words, ‘I swear to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States faithfully, so help me God’, spoken with his hand laid on the Bible of Abraham Lincoln.

Inaugural speech

In his inaugural speech Obama as if cooled the wide expectation in all latitudes but at the same time he mobilised people, ‘Yes, we can.’ On the one hand, he said ‘That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood’ to captivate their hearts, ‘On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. Our economy is badly weakened… He asserted sadly – ‘Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.’ ‘The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history’. Finally, he added, ‘Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.’ The oratorical skills of Obama are thought to equal the talents of John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

First thing – economy

The voters trusted Obama since he convincingly promised to bring about changes. This motto was repeated most frequently. What should the new president change in the first place? His administration must care for the American economy at once. The citizens demand that and they showed this issue in the November elections in which economic problems were decisive. Will Obama’s team manage to heal the foundations of economy quickly? Not only are the Americans interested in the answer. The condition of the American economy influences the economies in other parts of the world. The world also counts on the new quality of America’s leadership in the world. The European elites look at Obama with hope but commentators damp people’s ardour and warn that the America of the new president will be more demanding towards its European partners than the America of Bush. The conflict in the Middle East is still to be solved and it cannot be solved without a wise politics of the USA. Then there are Iraq, Afghanistan as well as Iran and South Korea with its nuclear, dangerous to the world, ambitions. By the way, wherever you look you at you can see a need for a new world leader, and especially for an advocate of the suffering.

Poland in the radar?

Poland? You can hardly expect that our country will be one of the main places of ‘Obama’s radar’. We are interested whether the agreement concerning the shield, signed at the end of the former presidency, will be respected by the present team. We do not know it. During the campaign and even earlier the Democrats did not hide their scepticism towards the idea, which the Republicans strongly supported. The recurrent topic is the Polish visa waiver. We also expect Barack Obama’s stand towards Russia with vital interest. The American themselves cool Poles’ love for their country. When President Bush was leaving office he did not acknowledge that the Polish leaders deserved to receive thanks for Poland’s participation in the anti-terrorist coalition and a few hours before the inauguration of the new president George Bush again flicked Polish politicians’ noses. Among several leaders whom he phoned to say god-bye and thank there was no leaders of the Polish state. For America we are less important than – taking nothing away from these countries – Denmark or Greece.

"Niedziela" 5/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl