Monday, October 27, 2008

Why do we love Obama

The entire media has gone completely ga-ga over Barack Obama; and most Indians either have no opinion or prefer him over John McCain.

Especially, a lot of Indian bloggers have been very outspoken for the love for Obama, and disdain for Sarah Palin.

While a lot of it has to do with Ms Palin's obvious lack of maturity, her extravagance (and 'fashion accessories' bills), her opinions, and her limited capabilities, I suspect it is also to do with people being threatened by, and unable to deal with, her sexuality. A powerful woman leader is accepted only when she dresses down and underplays her sexuality, whether Thatcher, Indira Gandhi or others. A sexually assertive woman threatens men. What does not help Sarah Palin though are her outspoken views (wrong many times) and her trackrecord - she angers feminists with her views, and threatens male chauvinists with her sexuality. It is so odd, feminists and MCPs all on the same side, but for different reasons. But, I digress.

What I fear Indians are doing here is, unfortunately, and as always, take an emotive view of the battle rather than a practical one. We might have completely hated Bill Clinton in his last stint (Monica-gate was ofcourse his crowning glory), but we still look forward to Obama being the best bet for America, and by extension, for the rest of the world.

We Indians, have always been swayed by things irrelevant, or topics fanatic in nature. Previous Post

But why does the educated middle class not take a detached view of what McCain versus Obama has to offer to India? Atleast we can take a detached view of the US election since it is so far away from us, and we - the so-called elite - should be able to do that.

One of the better Indian writers on economy is Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar. He is also, probably, the only well known Indian man, who has taken on his wife's maiden surname after marriage.

And his Article here in the Times of India, is excellent, because it compares Obama with McCain, on economic matters that matter to India. I quote some of his views:

"A nasty global recession has begun. Nouriel Roubini of New York University predicts we will suffer the worst economic downswing since the Great Depression. So, pressures will mount for protectionist measures and beggar-thy-neighbour policies in the US, hurting countries like India. Apart from erecting import barriers and subsidising dumped exports, US politicians will seek to curb the outsourcing of services to India. Visa curbs will slow the movement of skilled workers and their dollar remittances back to India.

McCain is one of the few American politicians in either party with the courage and conviction to stand up to protectionist populism. By contrast, Obama embodies protectionism."

"McCain has voted 88% of the time against bills creating trade barriers, and 90% of the time against export subsidies for US producers. Few other senators have such a splendid record.

Obama has served a much shorter time in the Senate, and avoided voting on many key issues. He has voted against trade barriers only 36% of the time. He supported export subsidies on the two occasions on which he voted, a 100% protectionist record in this regard.

In 2007, he voted to reduce visas issued to foreign workers (such as Indian software engineers), and to ban Mexican trucks on US roads. He sometimes voted for free trade - he supported the Oman Free Trade Act and a bill on miscellaneous tariff reductions and trade preference extensions. More often he voted for protectionist measures including 100% scanning of imported containers (which would make imports slower and costlier), and emergency farm spending. "

"Obama favours extensive subsidies for US farmers, hitting Third World exporters like India. This has been one of the issues on which the Doha Round of WTO is gridlocked. McCain could open the gridlock, Obama will strengthen it.

Obama also favours subsidies for converting maize to ethanol. The massive diversion of maize from food to ethanol has sent global food and fertiliser prices skyrocketing, hitting countries like India. But McCain has always opposed subsidies for both US agriculture and ethanol. While campaigning, he had the courage to oppose such subsidies even in Iowa, an agricultural state he badly needs to win if he is to become president."

And a lot more reasons. It makes so much more economic sense for India to cheer for McCain over Obama. The relations with the US have taken off (for the better) AFTER the Bush regime (whatever the reasons). Again, though, it is so fashionable to make fun of Bush & his Bushisms.

And I wonder why we are so *for* Obama, instead of rooting for the person who is much more likely, as President, to be an India ally.

Is it just because we hate Sarah Palin, whatever our reasons may be.

Or that, we wish to show our love for the black guy - to prove in our own eyes that we are not racist. Ofcourse, it is all great as long as the black guy is elected as President in the US - but we will probably not want a White lady to be our PM.

Reverse racism, anyone?

The more I think about it, the more it seems our 'democratic' structure is a weak one, a farce at times manipulated by cunning & conniving politicians, and we as a society, are doomed.

A people that cannot identify its own best interests .
Whether far away from home, or nearer to.


Just call me 'A' said...

hmmm an interesting post and lots of interesting points
---Palin's sexuality? really? now i've never thought that to be a threat. Hillary Clinton..yes..but in my opinion not Palin. Palin does not command presence which is so important for a position of this order.
---"Indians, have always been swayed by things irrelevant" maybe partly because we're a more emotional nation and are quick to react to feelings rather than logic.
---"But why does the educated middle class not take a detached view of what McCain versus Obama has to offer to India?" the educated middle class has become rather complacent, methink :)
---Reverse racism: for and against the minority huh? who takes the cake then?

Does it matter said...

@ A
- Oh but she is so popular. Prob gets more media coverage than McCain (poor guy), and do you think she would hv got it if SHE was old, avg/ bad looking, boring?
- Yes, true
- Complacent, maybe. I think it is more serious than that - I think its a lack of ability to critically examine, and partly driven by the emotional part
- RR - is more about hypocrisy of the middle class. We will approve of it as long as well dont have to do it ourselves. (example) How many "intellectual" middle class parents will agree to an inter-caste, leave alone inter-religion marriage of their children? Lip service - is all our middle class is capable of.

wordjunkie said...

Interesting points, both A and D... and news reports suggest that there is more to Palin than we assumed, as she begins to break away from the McCain machine and speak her own mind. Interesting times ahead.

And yes, we are an emotional lot, and taken in by glamour, and Obama seems so much more dignified than McCain..there is the whole Mr Clean image that reminds you of Rajiv Gandhi's early years...

Wonder if anyone scrutinized the Obama wardrobe budget, though...

Sagarone said...

Good post there, trying to take a detached view of the presidential race. One might sound like the devil's advocate, but it is necessary to keep things in perspective.

Does it matter said...

@ Sagarone
Yes, do agree

Anrosh said...

for me it is vote for the worst devil! and of course Obama's policies are not good for small business, raising taxes. i guess people just need a different face. they will cross the bridge later - criticize,protest,attack,etc etc.

Does it matter said...

@ wordjunkie
Though it does not help Sarah Palin (or McCain) that she even gets hoodwinked by crank callers..

And yes, her wardrobe decision is a diff one. She would be trashed if she looked dowdy, and trashed if she didn't.

Like men can go to a wedding even in their office clothes, straight from work. Ever seen a woman being able to do that - in India atleast?

No one will ever scrutinise Obama's wardrobe - if at all, people will go after his wife's!!

Does it matter said...

@ Anrosh
True. Honeymoon periods are ever so short.
Lets wait for the fun to begin.

Pinku said...

I admit am not great at understanding politics or even economics. However as accused I do support Obama and here are my reasons for doing so:

He is talking about the American people and what they need to get back on track (economic I mean)- not trying to put the world on track. As you have quoted Mccain maybe good for Indians but we are not his vote base. He needs to first look after the needs of his own people. US Presidents have made a habit of looking for 'world good'while ignoring issues back home.

Secondly he is the first black person to stand a chance to win the US elections - I like the wider implication of such a development. again it has nothing to do with india I am talking about the implication within American society.

thirdly i havent heard irrelevant, silly accusations coming from his camp against competitors. That makes him a man i can like.

Lastly Sarah Palin's sexuality is not so irritating or threatening as her dumbness is. and no her presence doesnt make one bit of a difference to my choice.

Does it matter said...

@ Pinku
Yes, and I have also been a supporter of Obama all this time. Even when he was fighting against Hillary, I was keen for him to win, because he has a honest aura around him. (So I am sexist but not racist!!)

But as Indians, I am sad that not many Indians are thinking about what is good for India, and who will be the better bet from our perspective. Our views, as a society, are not driven by our own self interests, but emotion - and that is wrong.

the mad momma said...

I agree with Pinku... I think I'm happy for America. For all the reasons she stated.

The idea would be for them to get the best president for them and for us to get the best person who does what is best for us...

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