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Whether Barack Obama's bid for the presidency ends in the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat in November, one element cannot be denied; Obama has changed, already, the pulse of politics both nationally and globally. His whirlwind week on the world stage has stirred yet another firestorm of opinion and debate both at home and abroad. The broadcast media, the press, and his opponent have been gifted with a wealth of new fodder to spin, analyze, denounce, or venerate. If Senator Obama has accomplished nothing else over the course of his campaign, he has gotten people's attention. That is one change we can, definitely, believe in!

One detail that I've found most fascinating throughout the rise of this 'Obamamania', as it is often tagged, is its element of paradox. Regardless the issue, the policy, the campaign strategy, the choice of public appearances, the verbal gaffes, the exploited rumors, the adulation, or the polls, it's as if Mr. Obama can't win for losing or can't lose for winning. He has, arguably, been scrutinized, dissected, lauded and vetted more than any candidate in my lifetime.

The most recent example of this paradoxical phenomenon is Obama's overseas foray to seven foreign countries in as many days. He conducted more high-level meetings with heads of State in a week than some presidents manage in a term. He was welcomed with open arms by world leaders and crowds of world citizens alike. At home, however, the trip was the source of yet another debate. Was it even appropriate? Was it necessary? Was it pure arrogance? Presumptive? What did it accomplish? Did help or hurt Obama's chances of election?

While Obama was speaking to a throng of 200,000 at the Brandenburg Gate encouraging the need for Global unity and the responsibility of all nations in the solution of world problems, his most ardent denigration yet was put forth by his opponent, Senator John McCain. Visibly upset over the attention being afforded Obama, he stated Obama would rather "lose a war than lose an election". He implied the entire venture was simply a political ploy and Obama just doesn't understand foreign policy. He evidently forgot that it was he who'd challenged Mr. Obama to go abroad and see first-hand the status of Republican Foreign Policy before speaking on it and that Obama had agreed and complied. The tone of the McCain remarks throughout the week even led prominent columnists to label them "scurrilous".

Even more paradoxical, now the McCain campaign is proposing the same policies on Iraq troop withdrawal and the need for escalation in Afganistan as Obama has been proposing for years and claiming them as McCain's own. Policies that have been losers for the Obama camp all along are suddenly winners. Even the Bush Administration is now conducting 'deals' and talks with North Korea, Pakistan, and the Iranians. And, taking a firmer tone with Israel regarding pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear enhancement sites and the necessity for a resolution to the Palestinian debacle; this coming, after a recent address to the Israeli Parliament stating that negotiating with one's enemies amounts to 'appeasement'. Obviously, the president's stance has changed as well. One news commentator said this morning that it almost appears as if President Bush has joined the Obama camp.

To mention just a few of the ironies seen throughout this campaign, we have witnessed Obama being criticized for being too black, too white, too down-home, too elitist, too inexperienced, and refreshingly free of Washington influence. We've seen him disparaged for being loyal to his pastor and again for being disloyal. He's been labeled Muslim by the Christians and anti-Muslim by the Arab Americans. He's been too Jewish and not Jewish enough. He's been called articulate on a podium and bumbling on a debate platform, anti-gun by the Fourth Amendment enthusiasts and weak on gun control by the Left. He's coddled the African-American community and talked down to them for white votes. He's ignored the country folk of the Rust Belt and assuaged them. He's flipped when he shouldn't have, and flopped when he should have remained rigid. I've found it truly a lesson in the anomalies of the human psyche.

It seems Senator Obama has now succeeded in checking the box on his savvy for Foreign Affairs and being embraced by Global leaders. Even this morning the Iranian leader has granted Brian Williams of NBC News an interview showing a whole new attitude in 'working with America'. Now, Mr. Obama must focus on the economy. The American people want to hear absolutes on policies that will affect our daily lives. Obama has said this will be his focus for the next weeks. It will be interesting to see the paradoxes that arise out of this debate. We can count on one thing in this campaign. It will be a roller-coast ride for sure.

I smile, though. I have to believe that the polls and the pundits, with all their analysis and rhetoric, do underestimate the minds of the populace. I think they under-estimate the rapt attention that Senator Obama, for or against him, has generated. I do firmly believe that we have moved from political apathy to citizen involvement and awareness. I believe that, for the first time in decades, the youth are taking a real interest. They have hope in their Democracy again. I think they understand that they must participate in the creation of their future. Previous taboo subjects are now discussed openly. Older mindsets are showing a willingness to reconsider the times. If Senator Obama has accomplished no more than that, he has done a great service to this nation. What we as voters do with it will lay out the destiny facing those that follow us.

May you always have rainbows!

Susan Haley, Author


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Jul 30, 2008
    • I have great hope in Obama’s foreign diplomacy. Thanks for the great article. There were a couple of things I had heard  that were negative about Obama, and it left me wondering if I couldn’t vote for him, who in the heck would I vote for? You have restored my conviction.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lois Stern & Patty Kovacs wrote Aug 1, 2008
    • Terrific article, Susan! You have a gifted way with words, but more importantly, deep insight into the essence of things that we should ponder and digest.

      Keep it coming,

      Lois W. Stern
      Eye on Beauty Co-columnist

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