Sunday, 4 October 2009

Audacity Of Hope

Obamas book 'Audacity Of Hope' takes a long time to get down to specifics. The first 50 pages say very little, mostly generalizations. I found it frustrating and dissapointing; but I suspect I'm not the target audience.

I can see it playing well to audiences in the USA, but outside it less so. He discusses the political origins of the USA and the constitution in some detail, but not the land grab from the Amerindians.

He speaks as though the only influence on the young USA was the democracy of ancient Greece, no mention of the French who backed them, it was the age of enlightenment. The French turned from monarchy to revolution and then dictatorship, it would have been an interesting contrast. No mention either that many of those founding fathers came from a British tradition of fairness and tolerance.

He asserts that Africa is so hide bound that people are not free to make choices. He writes of his relatives in Kenya whose lives seem controlled by either state or family.

It isn't written in a scholarly way and contains inaccuracies. It is done in a chatty friendly style, full of interesting stories about politics and campaigning. He is very tolerant of even George Bush, seeing the situation from his opponents shoes. I've often thought empathy was underrated, he turns it into an art form.

Even more interesting is his views on fundraising for campaigns. He seems to have discovered getting small donations from lots of people almost by accident. He doesnt suggest reducing the limits of donations, but relies on politicians being able to take money and remain balanced. Then he discussed how the influences are subtle.

On page 150 he talks up the luxuries of even the poorest USA citizens, which seems to ignore some sections of society. His own words on the failure of the USA health system puts other countries ahead of the USA in that respect. He also gives the impression that the Internet is owned by the USA, ignoring the role of Tim Berners-Lee.

You have to keep going till page 168 to find anything on renewable energy, there's very little on something on climate change. I would hope that he recognizes the role the USA has played on watering down Kyoto and reducing any action on this.

He has been president for 8 months now the change he promised is slow to materialise. Still he is a vast improvement on Bush, some similarities to Blair though. Clearly health is his priority, and its great that the 'star wars' system is gone. He seems to have made millions from his books, people are buying them in large numbers.

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