World awaits Obama... again
Indications are that President Barack Obama will get his second term as President of the United States of America in tomorrow's presidential elections. First, there was news that the highly respected Republican and former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell had again endorsed Mr Obama.
Excerpts of the endorsement given in a CBS interview, are now being used as an advertisement by the Obama campaign: General Powell commends the president on his fiscal policy that pulled America out of a depression. "I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war. The actions he's taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid," he said.
Then came Superstorm Sandy, and we heard a former harsh critic of the president, Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, expressing his appreciation for the president's hands-on support. The president's tour and the obvious warmth between the two men radiated throughout the media, with images of the handsome Obama wearing his bomber jacket inscribed "President of the United States", looking every bit the hero.
To top it off, an unexpected endorsement was announced by the formerly neutral New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The wealthy and popular mayor gave the Obama campaign a shot in the arm when he cited the president's concern for global warming as his reason to support the incumbent.
The Associated Press reported: "Both candidates had eagerly sought the nod from Bloomberg, who didn't endorse a presidential candidate in 2008 and has publicly grumbled about both Obama and Romney. But Bloomberg said the possibility that Sandy resulted from climate change had made the stakes of the election that much clearer. 'We need leadership from the White House, and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption,' Bloomberg wrote in an online opinion piece."
Tree-huggers like me are heartened that finally we hear wealthy world leaders acknowledging that climate change is a fact and not a hoax. It is indeed a fact that the temperature of the ocean was one degree higher than just a few years ago, sustaining the strength of Hurricane Sandy, which would have normally diminished by the time it had moved up into cooler waters.
However, as the saying goes, a day is a very long time in politics, and this column must go to press three full days before the elections. I believe there are three factors that could affect Mr Obama's re-election: the readiness of voting facilities after the storm, the growing discontent among hurricane victims and the publication of the latest unemployment figures.
Mitt Romney had blazed into the firmament of presidential possibility with a stunning victory in that first presidential debate, but he appears to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. One of his latest advertisements announcing that GM and Chrysler would be outsourcing jobs to China has been debunked by both companies, an unusual occurrence as the private sector usually stays out of mainstream political campaigning. "No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the US and repatriating profits back to this country," said an obviously annoyed Greg Martin, spokesman for GM. Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne described the content of the ad as "a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats to make".
An amusing sideshow is being provided by New York real estate mogul Donald Trump, who offered President Obama millions to send him his birth papers, and even extended the deadline for the delivery in view of Hurricane Sandy. Late night comedic commentator Stephen Colbert returned the favour by offering a million dollars to Trump for a most unsavoury service (check YouTube).
Then the Detroit Free Press reported, "The Donald tweeted, remarking that President Barack Obama 'is a terrible negotiator. He bails out Chrysler and now Chrysler wants to send all Jeep manufacturing to China - and will!' A Chrysler vice president for product design, Ralph Gilles (movie-star handsome African American), tweeted back a (strong) response ... Suffice to say, he let it be known that, when it comes to cars, Trump should stick to real estate." In politics, it is so important to have the right people stumping for you: compare and contrast Obama campaigner, one of the most successful presidents of the US, Bill Clinton, and "the Donald".
Nevertheless, the world will be on tenterhooks tomorrow as we watch the vote count on that clever CNN interactive electoral map presided over by the poker-faced John King. The popular polls have the two candidates in a statistical dead heat; however, the US electoral system requires a second step - voting by the nation's Electoral College. Click on: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/electoralworks.htm for an explanation of the US Electoral College.
Obama supporters may be comforted to know that based on various charts and analyses, the Huffington Post projects 259 Electoral College votes for President Obama vs 191 for Governor Romney. Neither party should feel this is a cake walk - tomorrow will be a tense, nerve-wracking day. Love them or not, you have to hand it to our politicians. Campaigning is tough and thankless, even as it provides tons of print and airtime for the media, and barrels of laughs for comedians.
How are the Jamaicans doing?
Hurricane Sandy has cut a swath of deadly destruction through the Caribbean and into the US East Coast. My friend Dave Rodney who lives in New Jersey commented: "Many Jamaicans in the Tri-State Area took a pounding from Sandy like everybody else there. The disaster has brought out some of the best qualities in our people. Neighbours are aiding and assisting each other to survive despite the overwhelming stress of this tragedy."
Here in Jamaica we have to give kudos to Food for the Poor for their prompt assistance to the eastern parishes, first partnering with Yohan Blake's YB Afraid Foundation and later with Daryl Vaz who launched a Portland restoration drive. The Salvation Army has also been doing tremendous work.