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August 8, 2008

Why Obama, by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

Why Obama is a series of guest essays by musicians and authors, where they share their support for Democratic United States presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama and offer arguments why he needs to be elected president of the United States.

Jane Fletcher Geniesse is an author, her latest book is American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem.

In her own words, here is Jane Geniesse's Why Obama essay :

When I learned that Obama, on his recent triumphant tour, had prayed at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall and, as worshippers long have done, inserted a tiny piece of paper into a crack in the ancient stone, it didn't surprise me that a reporter had snatched it out and broadcast the Democratic contender's prayer to the world. Aside from feeling that there is no such thing as privacy anymore, I was impressed to hear that Obama had asked to be spared the sin of pride. Apparently the Republican press and bloggers had a field day, crowing delightedly that Obama had finally proved he was as arrogant as they were saying, that he was now confirmed as a "snob" and "out of touch." To me it signaled just the opposite: that he is acutely aware that the dizzying trajectory of this campaign, where he has been adulated by millions, could spell his worst danger. He asked, in effect, to stay humble. Is there a better quality in a leader than humility when he might soon be granted enormous power to do good for his country and the world--or harm?

One wonders if such a thought ever occurred to Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld--I heartily doubt it. Had any of these men ever recognized the importance of seeking advice from others better informed than themselves or be willing to hear them out when they disagreed, our country might not be in the mess that it is. Their lack of curiosity and their self-righteous conviction that they alone knew what was best for the country, that somehow they were entitled to flout its laws, has been a tragedy for millions and earned the world's opprobrium. One of the most attractive traits that Obama has consistently shown is his interest in understanding "the larger picture." His remarkable intellectual gifts are desperately needed at a complex time demanding nuanced answers. He has the confidence and curiosity to "think outside the box."

Obama constantly re-assesses positions he has taken, and is willing to be criticized for "flipflops." He enraged those who want campaign finance reform because he concluded that the greater good is to ensure a Democrat victory. He is taking heat from the African-American community by considering that poverty rather than race alone should be the standard for affirmative action. He has offended environmentalists by inviting a modified reconsideration of off-shore oil-drilling. At the same time, as a Harvard Law School star, he has shown a far better grasp of economic and legal issues than John McCain and he has offered exciting new domestic programs including a national health care plan. He sees the prospect of a new Cuba policy and especially he has long advocated engaging hostile states in a much-needed dialogue. Consistently, he has advocated withdrawing troops form Iraq on a time table with which the Iraqis themselves agree, forcing President Bush to begin referring to "a time horizon" even as McCain threatens to stay indefinitely. Obama has run a beautifully organized campaign, his staff and advisers work together harmoniously in contrast to those of his opponents, and he has drawn from both conservative and liberal camps. It has been a long, cold winter since we have had the kind of creative thinking that is coming from their exchanges.

Personally, I have high hopes for this remarkable, talented and elegant man. Like many of his supporters, I hope he will not be pressed into the old mold of politics-as-usual while recognizing that the pressures on him are tremendous. I know a bit about the Middle East so I worry a lot that anti-Iran hysteria will influence him or that he could be persuaded that sending troops into remotest Afghanistan to "take out" the Taliban who are hosting Al-Qaeda could succeed--which it cannot, however desirable a goal. Instead I will hope that if and when Obama becomes president he will recognize that the Afghan people, who have never been defeated, want all "occupiers" out of their country. That is their goal, not to make an attack on U.S. territory. They are Afghan nationalists, not Arab zealots. Perhaps Obama can find a way to treat with the more reasonable Taliban leaders--and who knows, with a mix of carrot and stick, money and aid, he might ultimately persuade them to give over their Wahabbi guests who have brought such injury to their country and ours.

To me, Obama's candidacy promises a new morning for America, for our allies who welcomed him so enthusiastically in Europe, and for peoples elsewhere around the world. So lets give our time and dollars in support!!!

Jane Geniesse links:

the author's page at her publisher

Barack Obama link:

Barack Obama presidential campaign website

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Why Obama essays
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews


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