Saturday, September 27, 2008

McCAIN AND OBAMA: COWBOY AND COWHERD


Today was the first of the debates between John McCain and Barak Obama. Today was McCain’s big chance to prove that he, with all his experience and exposure, was the right President to lead America for the next four years. Today was the day when Obama was supposed to get ruffled and exposed for his naiveté in so far as his world view was concerned.

McCain did try to rub in what he thought was his advantage. And he thought the best way to do it was to keep saying almost condescendingly that Obama did not understand the dynamics of the situation, be it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, Iran or Korea. But what he wound up achieving was to tell the whole world that there were fundamental differences between the views and attitudes of both of them and that his views were in no way any better than Obama’s or, crucially, any different from those of Bush.

It appears that McCain is perhaps seven terms or more too late for the White House. His world view is not much different from that of a cowboy of the Wild West. John McCain looks a lot like John Wayne. But this is the 21st century and the world is wired and interconnected like the US never was during the days when the good guys just shot the bad guys, no questions asked. Yet, McCain still believes that all the talking with Iran, for example, is best done from the business end of a revolver.

Obama, on the other hand, sounds quite like the cowherd that the dark skinned Krishna was in Vrindavan. He has the ability to mesmerise everyone with his views and eloquence, just like Krishna did with his flute. He too believes that even your worst enemies need to be first spoken to and given a full and fair chance to see reason before your power and might is unleashed on them.

The US has seen what the ‘cowboy doctrine’ of Bush has led to in the last eight years. McCain promises more of the same. He is clearly frozen in time. Obama, on the other hand, wants to usher in a new era which carries real positive energy and an inclusiveness that the whole world is badly in need of. He ideas promise a fresh future in which most people will gently sway to his tunes of harmony rather than involuntarily shake to the disturbing cacophony that has been jarring them for a number of years.

Unfortunately for Obama, an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll conducted with Stanford University recently has found that Barak Obama will lose six percentage points on election day for being a black. That is not a small penalty for prejudice. If the race is close, racism might just tilt the scales. Clearly, there are many white Americans out there who haven’t moved out of the cowboy mould and who still think of blacks as inferior at some levels. Obama is not going to be able to win them over, no matter what he says or does. John McCain is not going to lose them either, no matter he says or does.

As per a CBS/NYT poll conducted before the first debate, Obama was leading McCain by five points, 48 to 43 percent. After the debate, a CNN post debate snap poll showed that Obama led McCain by 13 points, 51 to 38 percent. A CBS poll also showed that Obama had won this debate.

The results suggest a surge for Obama after the face-off. If the momentum continues, Obama will have a sweeping victory on November 04. The six percentage points of prejudice will not be able to stall his march. Change, it seems, will prevail over race.

Here in India, the land of the original cowherd, there are a couple of authentic cowherds hoping to get to the chair of the Prime Minister. But to get there, they are not doing what Obama is in the US. Far from it. Here, they are playing their flutes only to attract and ‘steal’ the cows of others for their personal gain. And it is not just the cows: they want the fodder too! Change? Which animal is that?
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Readers may also like to read the following posts:

1. From Obama to Laloo: a rude reality check
2. Obama and Jindal: Hanuman and the Monkey
3. Looking for India's Obama in Harvard!