THE VISITOR WHO CAME IN FROM THE OVAL OFFICE (4)
BY: Kwame Gyasi
“I may not get there with you but I want you to know tonight that we as people will get to the Promised Land.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I’m confident with the future but I’m not content with the present …The road ahead will long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term. But, America, I have never been hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there”
- Barrack Obama
History has proved beyond reasonable doubt that little mind discuss people, small minds discuss events whiles great minds discuss ideas. It is for this reason that the columnists very often quote ideas from great minds to herald their articles or end their articles with quote from great minds. The visitor who came in from the Oval Office to this country a few weeks back was no ordinary visitor. He is the President of the United States of America. He heads the most powerful country in the world and therefore makes him the most powerful person on this earth. Americas are aware of their might. That is why Americans go every length to ensure that their President should be somebody of sound mind with sound judgment and who under no circumstances will lie to them. Thus Americans put in place measures to ensure that nobody elected into that position goes through the mill to prove himself before getting elected. In addition, they continue to put him under microscope continuously to ensure that he does not drop his guide. President Nixon dropped the guide when he lied to the people and paid dearly for it.
The Americans love their flag, their gas(petrol) and their coca- cola. That is why there is an enactment which insist that the American flag should, as much as possible, be flown at a higher level than any flag whenever the American flag finds itself competing for space with other flags. That is why American enemies take delight in burning the American flag during open demonstration against the USA. The American soldier will go to war, hold a gun in one hand, the American flag in another and a tin of coke tucked away in his fatigues. The flag and the Presidency are two symbols of national pride. The American government represented by the presidency on its part ensures that not a single string of the hair of an American citizen is touched anywhere in the world without a reaction from the state machinery. While Americans are proud of their President, their President also ensures that every American citizen is safe anywhere he or she finds himself or herself so long as he or she operates as within the law. Even where an American citizen falls foul of the law outside the shores of the USA, the American Foreign Service steps in using all sort of subterfuge to ensure that the culprit gets a fair deal.
Today, the man who holds the high Office of the Presidency of the USA is Barrack Hussein Obama. This is the man who decided to make a visit to Ghana his first to any black African country on the assumption of Office. Mr. Obama decided to use the trip to achieve one official function and one private function. He used the trip to promote democracy across African continent by delivering a foreign policy statement in the Ghanaian Parliament and to offer his wife and children a taste of the slave trade route with a visit to former slave fort, the Cape Coast Castle, as part of a 24 hour visit.
A lot has been written and said about the phenomenon called Barrack Obama. A Ghanaian musician composed a beautiful music in his honor before he even became a president. Suffice to quote in this article some of the write ups by some seasoned writers as contained in the BBC reports:
“Democrat Barrack Obama has become the first African- American to win the White House. Two years ago, Barrack Obama was barely a blip on America’s political radar. But, with a brilliant, disciplined campaign, a vast amount of money and a favourable political climate, the junior senator from Illinois has risen to be the most powerful job in the world. His campaign will be a template for those seeking to replace him. It was, even Republican strategist admit, a technically perfect ground campaign. The money was key. Mr. Obama realized during the primary contest that he had developed an extremely broad donor base, which he could keep going back to for money. So, he rejected federal – funding for his campaign and the financial limits that came with it.
“With the help of Facebook founder Chris Hughes who devised an innovative internet fundraising system the campaign eventually attracted more than three million donors. They donated about $650(#403m) – more than both presidential contenders in 2004 combined. Mr. Obama was able to connect more deeply with more diverse voting blocks. He struck a chord with younger voters, won over Hispanic and Jewish voters who had been Republicans in the past, and of course got out the black vote like no president before him. Mr. Obama’s single, consistent message of change was appealing when almost nine out of 10 Americans believed their country was “on the wrong track “. He could early position himself as the anti – bush candidate in a way Mr. MacCain struggled to do. President Bush had lower approval rating than the disgraced Rich- Nixon, and Mr. Obama’s relentless campaign message was that John MacCain had voted with him 90% of the time.
“Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama emphasized with his whiteness as much as his blackness Mr. Obama’s selection of the veteran foreign policy expert, Senator Joe Biden, as his running mate helped close he experience gap. He insisted too that judgment was more important than experience and over the cause of the campaign the political consensus seemed to shift to his ideas. In some swing states in the final weeks of the campaign, he was outspending Mr. MacCain (his Republican opponent for the race to the Oval Office) by a ratio of four to one. His team again tapped into the internet, targeting ads at those online. They even bought ad – space embedded in video games. Mr. Obama could afford to campaign in Republican strong holds and force Mr. MacCain to spread his limited resources ever thinner, sucking his resources away from swing states.
“At the same time the campaign was masterful at getting out the vote. It run a huge registration drive for likely Democrats – adding more than 300,000 people to the voter rolls in Florida alone. Realizing that so many new voters could overwhelm polling places on voting day, the campaign made early voting a priority in states where it is allowed. More people cast their votes before Election Day this year than ever before – more than 29 million in 30 states, according to preliminary data. All of theses worked of course because of Barrack Obama’s appeal as a candidate. He is a superb orator who can work a crowd in the Bill Clinton tradition. His image was wholesome; a self made family man with one house, one car – one car and one family. It was a contrast to John MacCain who divorced the wife who waited for him through the Vietnam War, married a heiress and couldn’t remember how many houses he had. Ultimately, even Mr. McCain’s greatest political strength as a war hero with decades of foreign experience was eclipsed.
“History will remember Barrack Obama for the change he personifies. As an American first black president he will write a new chapter in a long story that began in slavery and persecution and has not yet ended in equality. But he is determined that history will remember him as an agent of change, not just a symbol of it, and that will not be easy. Mr. Obama has been a brilliant candidate in many ways- the muscular poetry of his oratory is matched by his flair for the nuts and bolts of campaign organization. But he has been lucky too. Even the banking crises, which called into question the competence of Republican economic stewardship, came helpfully at a moment when he and John MacCain were neck and neck in the polls.
“Mr. Obama has not been lucky though in the circumstances which greet him as he takes office. He inherited a budget deficit on running into hundreds of billions a year and an initial debt which is about to go over the $11 trillion mark”.
“Michelle Obama (Obama’s wife) so far has struck all the right notes as First Lady and America has been charmed by the Obama children and their search for a new first puppy. The family occupies newspaper and magazine front pages in a way not seen the heyday of the Kennedys back at the start of the 1960’s and their position in the public’s affections seems secured. Latest polls suggest Mr. Obama continues to enjoy a high level of popularity.
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, the Oval Office is the official officeof the President of the United States. Created in 1909 as part of an overall expansion of the West Wing of the White House during the administration of William Howard Taft, theoffice was inspired by the elliptical Blue Room. The room features three large south facing windows behind the president’s desk and a fire place at the north end of the room. The Oval Office has four doors: the east door opens to the Rose Garden; the west door leads to a private smaller study and dining room; the northwest door opens unto the main corridor of the West Wing; and the northeast door opens to the office of the president’s secretary. Though architect James Hoban’s original design for the White House included two oval rooms, the idea of an oval office did not come about until 1909. Oval rooms became popular in eighteenth century neoclassical architecture, and it is considered likely that Hoban was influenced by the elliptical chamber at Castle Coole in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland The first Oval Office, designed by Nathan C. Wyeth for President William Howard Taft in1909 was nearly identical in proportion to the current office and was destroyed by fire in 1929.
The desk used by many presidents in the Oval Office is a large partners’ desk called the resolute desk, so named because it was built from the timbers of the British frigate HMS Resolute. The desk was a gift of the Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880 a tradition evolved in the latter part of the twentieth century of each new administration redecorating the office to the presidents liking. A new administration usually selects an oval carpet, new drapery, the paintings on the walls, and some furniture. Most incoming presidents continue using the rug of their predecessor until their new one is installed. The retired carpet very often is then moved to the presidential library of the president for whom it was made. The redecoration of the Oval Office is usually coordinated by the first lady’s office in the East Wing, working with an interior designer and the White House Curator.
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The Spectator - page: 6 SATURDAY, August 22, 2009