Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obamanation: Yes we can.

I surprised myself Wednesday morning (Vietnam is twelve hours ahead of Chicago) watching the returns and finally Obama's acceptance speech in Chicago. There was nothing particularly stirring in his speech, save for the opening line that stated roughly, "If anyone still thought that the American Dream was dead, today should put that notion to rest". But the vision of a black man delivering the line, and the gathering of black and white people on the stage at the close of the speech really went straight to my heart. "Now, that looks like my country", I said to myself. It was nearly tear-in-the-eye stuff and has been sorely absent from our nation's government for far too long. It felt really very good.

For the last eight years, I have felt, as an American living abroad, that our core values, beliefs and philosophies have been rampantly deconstructed to the point that the US today has felt more like the Soviet Union of the 50s - and our influence and perception overseas has been so miserably trodded upon, by our own regime, that most nobody wants us around. Being an American overseas has been a war in itself since Bush. Claiming any moral high ground over any other country has been ludicrous.

"I remember particularly, his "Axis of Evil" comment in relation to North Korea as I had been running a business in Seoul, South, Korea. Whithin a week of that, clients began to call and put all their advertising plans on hold. Six months they said. I had already lost a Philippine airline, launching a new route to Seoul, after 9/11 because they could not get a guarantee from Boeing on delivery of their new plane. In the Axis of Evil case, I knew that most people, certainly Americans, didn't know the difference between North and South Korea and that nobody would be launching any new products anytime soon. From the Korean side, they put their American advertising plans on hold becuse nobody in the US would want to buy a car or TV made in the Axis of Evil. We were fucked.

Whithin six weeks, Bush and Condi Rice were up at the DMZ reviewing the troops and trying to mend business fences in Seoul with one of our most important trading partners. The American Chamber of Commerce was pissed, and all of us were trying to drown the issue in all the Korean beer we could get our hands on. I closed my business on March 1st, 2002, after 6 months of no income and returned to the US to figure out next steps. We were broke. I was broke."

Watching Obama on Wednesday, I felt that, at least, he could sell an unpopular idea without riling up half the damn planet. In general, I have not been a detractor of the "Change" campaign theme. From a very pragmatic side, you need to do that before anything specific can happen at all. Change first, pick the leader, and then figure out exactly what and how to change later. What the hell was "America First"? Wasn't that the exact problem with our foreign policy under Bush?

In closing I must, really tearfully, bid fairwell to Governor Sara Palin. She has been an almost endless source of comedic material, and I, along with the entire Saturday Night Live writing crew will really be in dire straights now that she has gone. Avis of Evil, Barack Obama, Korea, North Korea, Sarah PalinI had read a few months ago that the late-night comedians and many in the political humour business were having a rough go at their work because of the common perception that you can't make fun of a black man running for president And there has been quite a bit of truth to that. I took a few shots and didn't really get a big response, nothing even remotely close to what I've gotten from the Mensa and other assorted Palin jabs. I will miss her for sure but many have commented that she may have a future similar to an American Idol runner-up and do better than the winner in some ways, just because she's so damn funny.

I wish President-elect Obama the best and I, for one American, need the positivity back in our nation's direction and felt Wednesday morning that he has the ability and fortitude to do that.

For more on Obama, click below:

Obama to Send 30,000 Troops to Tiger Woods House

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