Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New President

It's unbelievable. It's really unbelievable. Whether or not you're sure about your vote, sure about the world, sure about the economy or the war, or the future of the world in general, it was a thilling election. Even if your guy didn't win, there was something infectious going on - a feeling that everyone was excited to vote, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Ira and I watched the early return reports until some time after 12AM, with Gabe snoring next to us and then we woke up again at 3AM to check in (this with FOX News as our cable network doesn't currently have CNN) and as narcolepsy took over, waited until the alarm went off at 6AM to watch again.

I've never experienced an election from afar but then again, I've never campaigned or done anything to connect into the candidate during the course of the campaign. My first election was 1980 - Reagan, Carter, Anderson and I was so disheartened, I ended up not voting. That wasn't the answer though and I promised myself that I would never miss an election again. That I would cast my vote regardless of whether or not I loved the candidate or not - I would choose and exercise my right to vote, something that not everybody in the world enjoys. This time, despite the fear that absentee ballots wouldn't be counted or that the votes wouldn't get to the right place, I voted. Ira actually dropped off our ballots (Natan's first election!) at the OU the other night. They were having an election event where you could bring your ballots in and know they'd be shipped back to the US together - that seemed a good idea from a place where the mails aren't always perfect.

For me, 2000 and 2004 were not happy elections. That feeling that we, the voters, had been 'had,' wasn't an easy one. That sense that the president had no real feeling for many of the 'rank and file,' wasn't an easy one to shake. He (he should live and be well) seemed to live in some kind of bubble of financial security, emotional distance, family protection and governing doctrine that I never could connect to or understand and appreciate. Maybe there was no way to win in the age of 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and the current climate of economic uncertainty. I'm not even sure that our new president will be able to govern as well as he'd like and move forward with new ideas that he set forth during his campaign when he is inheriting so many issues that will not go away easily. Indeed, we need to see his resolve with these basics - Iraq, Afghanistan, the deficit - before we can watch him move forward and set his goals on the Middle East, the US's relationship with the world at large, Universal health care and other important domestic issues.

But here's the thing. It's a great thing to have the US's first African American president. It's a great thing to feel that he's won with good numbers, a large turnout and a wave of emotion and good feelings that will surely help in this early period of adjusting to what's happened (for those who feel disenfranchised and disappointed by his win). Barack HUSSEIN Obama - I love saying that as here, in Israel, that makes people squirm...our new president. Mazal tov to us all. People are downright strange and scary about his election here. There is such fear that he represents an end of the good relationship and the good will of the US to Israel. Here's a good example of some of the rhetoric on this side of the pond and note, I will not quote from resident crazy, Caroline Glick of the J'lem Post who surely must not sleep at night for fear of Iran nukes. One local friend essentially agreed with her recent article that Iran will look to test Obama right away via some action against Israel. I don't know if it's useful to think this way - maybe I'm stupid, maybe I'm naive, I just can't live my life this way, certainly not here, in Israel.

Another piece that got my attention printed via a Facebook Friend who voted for the other guy. It's actually an interesting piece in terms of the writer's history but the conclusions he draws are, at least I think so, unfortunate.

Barack H. Obama and Fidel Castro. What is the difference between the two?
Want Change? (From Richmond Times-Dispatch, Monday, July 7, 2008)

Dear Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Each year I get to celebrate Independence Day twice. On June 30, I celebrate MY independence day and on July 4th, I celebrate America's.

This year is special, because it marks the 40th anniversary of my independence. On June 30, 1968, I escaped Communist Cuba and a few months later, I was in the U.S. to stay. That I happened to arrive in Richmond on Thanksgiving Day is just part of the story, but I digress.

I've thought a lot about the anniversary this year. The election year rhetoric has made me think a lot about Cuba and what transpired there.

In the late 1950s most Cubans thought Cuba needed a change, and they were right. So when a young leader came along, every Cuban was at least receptive.

When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the old system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in..

When he said he would help the farmers and the poor and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed.

When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said, 'Praise the Lord!' And when the young leader said, "I will be for change and I'll bring you change," everyone yelled, "Viva Fidel!"

But nobody asked about the change, so by the time the executioner's guns went silent the people's guns had been taken away. By the time everyone was equal, they were equally poor, hungry, and oppressed.

By the time the press noticed, it was too late, because they were now working for him. By the time the change was finally implemented, Cuba had been knocked down a couple of notches to Third-World status.

By the time the change was over, more than a million people had taken to boats, rafts and inner tubes. You can call those who made it ashore anywhere else in the world the most fortunate Cubans. And now I'm back to the beginning of my story.

Luckily, we would never in America fall for a young leader who promised change without asking, WHAT change? How will you carry it out? What will it cost America? Would we?

Manuel Alvarez, Jr.


All I wish to express, as a former Cuban exile, is that Barack Obama and Fidel Castro share many personality traits, ie:

Both were abandoned by their fathers at an early age.

Both are charming, eloquent lawyers that say exactly what people want to hear at the right time and place.

One never led the nation to suspect he was a communist at heart, the other doesn't mention the word socialism when in reality this is exactly what his agenda stands for.

Both were virtually unknown until they began to use the word 'change' as their main political motto.

Both have egos as tall as the twin towers, yet they manage to present themselves humbly, one in soiled military fatigues and the other sweating and with an undone tie.

Both have the unique ability to distort truth and lies as if they were the same.

Both have the ability to hypnotize the ignorant and fool the wishful thinker and to divide a nation in classes, (divide and you shall win) In Fidel's case he divided the rich against the poor, the illiterate against the educated and the black against the white. In Obama's case even if by omission, he's de-facto dividing the races already.

And lastly I'll use the words of Jorge Santayana to finish my case in point: 'Those who can't remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'

And in the words of Sir Winston Churchill: 'The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal distribution of blessings, the inherent vice of Socialism is the equal distribution of misery.'


Signed: Andrew J. Rodriguez, Author of 'Adios, Havana,' a memoir

By comparison, read this good piece by Donniel Hartman, son of Rabbi David Hartman and co-Director of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Perhaps this, with less fear and loathing, explains the hopes and fears for the next president.

Enough for now.
I'm happy. Hopefully some of you out there are too.
Here's to a new and different tomorrow.

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