Recently in News and politics Category

Goodbye Bush, Hello Obama

January 20, 2009 9:52 PM | Comments (0)

In class yesterday, our professor was using the example of the presence of mafias in certain countries to indicate a weak rule of law. So we covered the usual suspects - Italy, Russia, China and some Eastern European countries.

Then the professor asked, “Does the US have a mafia?”

Some people said yes, in the 1920s.

“What about now?”

An American classmate responded with aplomb, “They’re stepping down from office soon.”


Young McCain and Obama

November 4, 2008 8:03 PM | Comments (0)

I knew McCain was a dashing Navy officer, heavily decorated for his service including his time as a Prisoner of War (POW). I learnt from this Arizona news website that:

He was married to his first wife Carol for 14 years, but they grew apart. He admitted to extramarital affairs. Finally he met his future second wife Cindy. To quote,

“… my marriage’s collapse was attributable to my own selfishness and immaturity more than it was to Vietnam, and I cannot escape blame by pointing a finger at the war. The blame was entirely mine.”

Obama hasn’t had marital issues, nor did he serve as an officer, but there are interesting similarities between the two men, which I’ll bring up up at some point below.

The young McCain moved to Arizona where his new wife and her rich father was based. At the time, McCain was quoted as being very ‘engaging’ and likeable. Now, Obama sounds like that…

The young McCain was very politically sensitive with being seen as an opportunistic new kid on the block. After being called a ‘carpetbagger’ numerous times, he flared up and answered,

“Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the first district of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi.”

So both McCain and Obama were more well-travelled earlier in their lives than the usual US presidential candidates (and dare I say, the Alaskan vice-presidential candidate?). Specifically, they spent important parts of their lives in Southeast Asia.

In his first campaign in Arizona, McCain’s success was partly due to TV advertising. Obama’s now done that, but on a much larger scale. Stretching it a bit, back in 1982 there wasn’t the Internet, so McCain effectively used the most popular medium of the day to woo voters. Like what Obama’s doing now.

Also, McCain had money. The report says,

“…it was more greenbacks than soles that swept McCain into the House of Representatives… McCain’s first campaign benefited from his wife’s personal wealth, some of which had been tied up in a trust set up in 1971 by her parents…”

Similarly, Obama’s got a lot of money for the current campaign… not from his wife though. Nor from his aunt ;-)

Soon after winning his seat, McCain got attention from his party for standing up to President Reagan about the war in Lebanon. To quote,

“I do not foresee obtainable objectives in Lebanon,” McCain said. “I believe the longer we stay, the more difficult it will be to leave, and I am prepared to accept the consequences of our withdrawal.”

So, McCain is to Lebanon what Obama is to Iraq?

Thereafter, the young McCain was listed as a ‘Republican on the rise’. Similarly, after Obama’s National Democratic Convention 2004 speech, he was seen as a rising star. And as we expect tomorrow, the rest is history.

Who would’ve known these two men would meet, head to head, on the world’s biggest stage?

Good stuff! Even though McCain’s probably going to lose the election, he is able to carry off a lot of funny lines. Obama won’t get me roaring with laughter, but when McCain’s more his maverick self he can be likeable. This is a side of him that the electorate didn’t see enough of during this campaign. It is difficult being yourself when you risked alienating the Republican base. However you can’t appeal to the right and to the middle at the same time. The other side has the momentum.

The question is, will people who simply like him, vote for him? In difficult times such as these, the answer is possibly not as many as he’d like.

Obama/Biden 2008!

US Electoral Vote map

November 2, 2008 2:23 AM | Comments (0)

I love cool gadgets like these. Hang on to your seats, world. An exciting new President is coming in!

More action is happening on my INSEAD blog, and even more action is happening in the library (boo!) but I thought I should pen down some quick thoughts about current situations:

On the current economic crisis

Tempting as it is to watch with an odd combination of amusement and dismay as our stock prices fall lower and lower, there is really no point in checking them every minute. Being MBA students there is a very strong temptation to sit in front of the Bloomberg terminal watching stock prices from your country of origin trickle further down every few seconds. I have been using my Bloomberg iPhone app more often than usual, taking a masochistic delight in seeing prices fall and telling myself I was smart to sell a lot of my shares before the real shit hit the fan.

But, as with really bad diarrhoea, you never know when it ends. If you live only for money, then you may feel your life is coming to an end. If your foundation is in deeper, more meaningful things, then you will not be as badly shaken. However, it is tragic while lots of people in America have lost their homes and an old lady has even shot herself after defaulting on mortgage payments.

On the US elections

I am getting all excited again for Obama as he’s become more specific with issues, and sounds more decisive. The second debate helped him stand out. All these years I was actually fine with McCain and thought he’d have made a better president than Bush, but the GOP had other ideas, and now it may be difficult for the Republicans on all fronts.

A couple days ago, our Organisational Behaviour professor let us watch Martin Luther King’s speech, I Have A Dream. I’ve read excerpts, but watching the original video really moved me. If Obama gets elected, King’s speech will have extra significance - even though Obama isn’t the son of slaves.

Embedded for your viewing pleasure:

I’m adding my INSEAD blog on my sidebar so it won’t be so quiet over here… take care, dear readers, and have a great weekend while I slog away!

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