World's Eyes on Obama

This post was originally written by Amira Al Hussaini for Global Voices Online on January 14, 2008:

As his ratings continue to slip in the primaries, US presidential hopeful Barack Obama‘s popularity is on the rise among bloggers around the world. Global Voices Online editors and contributors joined hands to bring us the reactions of bloggers from Japan, Haiti, Republic of Macedonia, Pakistan, India, Ukraine, Singapore and Chile in this article.


Our first stop is in Japan, where Paintbox77 (Jp) says Obama scores brownie points thanks to his patriotism. He explains:


Candidate Obama's soft mood [soft-spoken character] is good, and although I wonder about what his leadership will be like as president
of the United States, the country which tows the world, still anything is good compared to Bush, who forcibly started the war in Iraq. His policy is more liberal than Hillary Clinton's, I have the feeling something like that of Jimmy Carter. However, although he is liberal, he emphasizes “patriotism” and is also popular among the conservative class, and in this sense, I can also sympathize. It has been written in many blogs that it would be a good thing if the
left wing in Japan, like Obama, made an appeal in terms of “patriotism”, and I also think this.


For Natifnatal (Fr), a Haitian blogger in Abu Dhabi, UAE, both Obama and his competition Hilary Clinton want to shake the status quo. She writes:

Il est indéniable que et Hilary Clinton et Barack Obama veuillent secouer le status quo. Une femme et un noir portés par le même rêve de présidence de la nation la plus puissante du monde. Devant la défaite essuyée à New Hampshire un charismatique Obama scande trois petits mots qui galvanisent— « yes we can »— alors qu'une Hilary Clinton triomphante proclame que l'homme moyen ne sera pas invisible pour elle. Une Amérique encore à rebâtir veut encore croire que le changement est possible.

It is undeniable that Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama want to shake the status quo. A woman and a black carried by the same dream of presiding over the world's most powerful nation. In the face of defeat in New Hampshire, a charismatic Obama chants three little worlds that galvanize— « yes we can »— while a triumphant Hilary Clinton proclaims that the average man will never be invisible to her. An America that's to rebuild again needs to believe again that change is possible.


And it is precisely this strong push for ‘change’ that doesn't quite cut it for Ukraine blogger Taras, who writes:

‘Change’ — not ‘stability’ — is the buzzword. I learned this after studying CNN and CBS reports on the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. No matter how desperately I searched for ‘stability,’ my search efforts suffered a massive failure. I couldn’t find a single S-word in the campaign rhetoric of either Democrats or Republicans. All they talk about is change.


Chile's Luis Ramirez (Es) likes what he sees in regards to Obama, but hopes that he is able to keep it up. He notes:

Obama es la política como nos gusta: incluyente, esperanzadora, audaz!…Yo sinceramente espero que no se cumpla esa maldición a la que
alude con su cinismo habital The Economist: “El Establishment Siempre Gana”. Por ahora es 1 para Obama y o para el el establishment.

“We like politicians like Obama: inclusive, inspiring hope, bold!.. I sincerely hope that the curse, “The Establishment Always Wins,” which The Economist alludes to, does not come true. For now, it is 1 for Obama, and 0 for the establishment.


Chapati Mystery, from Pakistan, says Obama's ‘inexperience’ is working in his favour. He further explains:

Obama, so far as I can tell, matches Hillary in every aspect of resume “experience” save years. Where she outstrips him leaves the gap many of us, with reservations, have filled with the support that so bewilders America's chattering classes; he is unstoppable precisely because he is inexperienced, because he does not yet carry the taint of the Imperial Corporate Machine that fleeces citizen, subject and enemy alike; he is too young to have investments in their entrenched isms, ists, and grievances; he is too new a convert to consider his ascendancy ordained by Jesus; he is just naive enough to believe that, by building a mandate across parties, races and classes, that he might at last rouse the great and drowsy American spirit that once a century rises to correct the hundred years’ of errata preceding it.


On the other side of the fence, Indian Manesh, compares between Obama and Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's Governor. He writes:

Obama is also a second-gen immigrant, much like Bobby Jindal. But in one key way, they're poles apart. Afraid of being niched as an ethnic politician, rather than just an American politician, Jindal has by and large refused to speak out on desi issues after collecting checks from cardiologist uncles. When two Indian LSU students were murdered in their homes, Jindal remained conspicuously silent until even white Louisiana politicians nudged him to speak. … In contrast, Obama has not divorced himself from one of his ancestral homelands. Last week he issued a statement on the post-election violence in Kenya.

Meanwhile, Amardeep Singh discusses how Obama's ‘foreignness’ and ‘difference’ may be working in his favour.


Though a die-hard Clinton fan, Singapore's Abhijit says Obama's candidacy shows an America “free from racial prejudice.” He further explains:

I admire Obama and admire those who support him. It shows America at its finest, eager for new directions and free from racial prejudice…Democrats are spoilt for choice this time with a plethora of good candidates.
I can understand the impulse to praise Obama. It makes one feel good. He has youth, intelligence, charisma, all the great qualities. But Hillary and Edwards and the other candidates are pretty impressive too. Give them a fair hearing.
Even Obama fans are entitled to enjoy the excitement of a close — and not a one-horse — race.

Republic of Macedonia:

But one blogger from the Republic of Macedonia remains skeptical about Obama's foreign policy. Marko Attila Hoare raises serious concerns about whether an Obama presidency would pursue a responsible policy in the Balkans. He writes:

Let us hope that Obama’s sponsorship of this resolution is simply a cynical ploy to win the Greek-American vote, and will not translate into a genuinely anti-Macedonian policy in the event that he becomes president. For if it does, the consequences for the peace and stability of South East Europe could be catastrophic.

*Chris Salzberg, Jennifer Brea, Veronica Khokhlova, Neha Vishwanathan, Eduardo Avila and Preetam Rai selected links and translated blogs for this article.

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