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Stabroek News

Chickens coming home to roost
published: Tuesday | May 13, 2008

Lance Neita, Contributor

It's a long road from growing up in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he played hide and seek on the streets as a boy, to the White House in the USA where possibilities have opened up for Barack Obama to become that country's first black President.

The odds have always been against Senator Obama and his astounding challenge for the presidency, but as the dust settles from North Carolina and Indiana primaries held last week, he has emerged as the front runner for the Democratic nomination with a clear mandate from popular vote as well as states won.

Even his formidable rival Senator Hilary Clinton, public statements to the contrary, must be thinking seriously of the prospects of conceding, as the Democrats face potential implosion if their Super Delegates were to vote against the man who has done everything to show that he is the winner in the race for the candidacy.

Remaining hope

Perhaps, Mrs Clinton's only remaining hope is that her rival will somehow trip himself in the last stages of the campaign with some utterance or wild misjudgement that may affect his ratings with the party chiefs.

There is even the possibility that the Clinton team or the media can unearth some information on Mr. Obama's background that can be sold to the public as harmful to the party's chances in the presidential election.

Mr Obama however has already shown his mettle in staring down the Jeremiah Wright spectacle that threatened his campaign, even while many of his supporters here and abroad were on the verge of surrendering to the onslaught generated against him by powerful forces.

Open for interpretation

Last Tuesday we saw him storm back into the ring, trouncing the Senator from New York in the North Carolina battle while sharing honours in the Indiana test.

There is no certainty as yet that Mr Obama will get the final nod for nomination as the rules are open for interpretation regarding the status of the so-called renegade states Florida and Michigan.

The nominees are also subject to the whims and fancies of the Super Delegates who appear likely to vote for the Senator from Illinois, but will be making 'electability' against the Republican party's John McCain their final arbiter.

However, as the prospects for an American first in terms of a female Commander-in-Chief recedes, the implications of having the first black man in the White House are as awesome as they are a growing reality.

Endless possibilities

Mr Obama has always said he represents hope, and change. For America, the Obama choice would open up a new vista of world perceptions about the United States that would indeed change thinking, earn respect for their democracy, and help to bridge the divide among traditional enemies.

The possibilities are endless.

His multi-cultural upbringing has armed him with a background and a confidence to mix with all sorts of people and to feel at home under any conditions and to engage others with opposite points of view, all critical factors for leadership at a time of declining American influence.

There is an Obama-mania sweeping the world that has already gripped Jamaica, and poses the question of what is at stake for this country if the young man should win the presidency.

Finer understanding

There may be no distinct advantage from an economic point of view, but Obama has repeatedly claimed that his personal life experiences turned him into someone who identifies with those less fortunate and has given him a finer understanding of the imbalances of this world and the prospects for developing countries.

But even as his supporters begin presumptuously to talk about an Obama administration, Senator Clinton is not giving up, and has vowed to continue fighting until the last vote is cast. Nevertheless the writing does look like it's on the wall.

There was a standing joke in the 1960s that Martin Luther King could get almost any favour out of John F. Kennedy. The story goes that the telephone rings one night in the White House (at 3:00 a.m.) and JFK groggily answers.

"Oh hi, Martin ... yes Martin you know you can call at any time ... yes Martin ... yes Martin ... but Martin ... but Martin, you know it's always been called the White House."

Perhaps Martins, or Baracks, or even Hilary's chickens are about to come home to roost.

Lance Neita is a freelance contributor; feedback to

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