Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A response to 'Ordinary Obama'

I wish to offer a different perspective to Ralph Maraj's article headlined "Ordinary Obama"that appeared in the Express of October 30. At the outset, Mr Maraj attempts to take down Mr Obama a few pegs by comparing him to Martin Luther King Jr, Winston Churchill and others. In comparison with these orators, the article asserts that Obama's speeches are "hollow and hackneyed".

These men were great orators, but the politicians among them were not elected to make speeches during their tenure of office. King, who never sought office, was a moral force who paved the way for someone like Obama to become president, but when the Prince of Peace went to urban Chicago the "brothers" ran him out of town. Few leaders were more inspiring than Winston Churchill during the prosecution of World War II when he sustained the British people with his oratorical skills. But the British removed him from office once the war was over and replaced him with the "modest and moderate" Clement Atlee. The Times (London) described Attlee's tenure as the "most significant reforming administration of 20th century Britain" but proceeded to say that "very little that he said was memorable". In other words, there are "horses for courses" and oratorical flights of fancy should not be confused with governing.

Mr Maraj states that Mr Romney is ordinary. I concur. I diverge from the former minister when he writes that "[Romney] could make the US stronger and the world more stable". Romney's record belies this. While he was governor of Massachussetts that state finished 47th out of 50 in job creation, and long-term debt increased by more than US$2.6 billion. Steering his company, Bain Capital, was different from running a state. At Bain he bought failing companies, bled them, sent the workers home, exported jobs abroad, and then parked his profits in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands. Americans eager for jobs are likely to snatch at Romney's promise of 12 million jobs during his first term. That's how the Germans, suffering from hyperinflation and unemployment after World War I, turned to Hitler for relief. He was elected. I am not suggesting that Mr Romney is a Hitler but merely emphasising the vulnerability of incumbents when the economy is in the doldrums.

George W Bush inherited a balanced budget from the Clinton years, a US$230 billion surplus, and an economy which had created 23 million jobs. By the time Bush left office, the economy was spiralling downwards, the country on the brink of a depression, the financial institutions in a meltdown, and the United States fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The economy which Bush bequeathed to Obama was a mile deep in debt and unemployment. Obama has created more jobs in two years than Bush did in eight. Under Obama, the unemployment rate has fallen below eight per cent for the first time since he took office, despite the relentless opposition of the Republican Party. Before Obama could even sit in the White House, GOP members were planning obstructionist tactics to nail him on the political cross.

Romney has announced a five-point plan to create jobs, but in essence, it is a one-point plan to cut taxes for millionaires and raise taxes on the middle class, the identical plan employed by Bush. It did not work for GW and will not work for Romney who is also ethically-challenged and cannot be trusted. He changes more colours than a chameleon, shocking Obama in the first debate. During the Republican primaries Romney veered to the extreme right to out-do his Republican challengers, but shifted to the moderate centre once the presidential debates started. As a presidential contender, Romney has steadfastly refused to reveal 10 years of tax returns as most presidential candidates do. Thanks to a secretly- taped video, we now know that he has no uses for poor people.

On foreign policy, he is out of touch. He talks about Russia as if it's still a Cold War enemy; spoils for a fight, and is ready to bomb other countries. He seems to crave war when the American people are war-weary and has packed his staff with GW's hawkish foreign policy advisers. He blames Obama for the uprisings in the Middle East as though he expects the new leaders, elected by the people, to be readily compliant to America's wishes. Americans do not wish to return to the Bush unilateral foreign policy which made their country appear as arrogant and overbearing. At present, 90 per cent of UK citizens prefer Obama to win the election as do 71 per cent of Europeans. The differences between Obama and Romney are major in both domestic and foreign policy. The American people will soon decide which leader they want. The choice could not be clearer.

óDr Basil A Ince is a former Government minister