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Obama’s gambits and horizon of his tenure

By Emma Okocha
New leaderships in all spheres of life always begin with dizzying euphoria and great expectations.

The first  to evaporate is usually the vertigo which rocks the leadership and its followers into the reality of new definitions.

The winning definitions must now be replaced by ushering definitions because winning definitions were made on the road to assure people that the path to new directions is clear.

The promised vistas are not just going to be paper promises but promises which could and must now go concrete.

As we saw during the elections, the cacophonous quest inside the American family was

forbidden in terms of  gravity and the possibility of danger to the polity for good reasons.

The image of the country pulsed ever so faintly in the doldrums of international esteem and approval.

And the nation held its breath, figuratively beaten up and lacking in national pride, and in that proverbial confidence which associates all American frontiers with the global spirit that assists in the definition or recognition of human destiny on this planet.

Ostensibly, it was a case of diffidence fueling fear, and fear being  fueled in turn by the fraying of an economy whose robust pulsations were supposed to fire or ventilate all else in the vascular system of the nation.

How does one  begin a re-definition or the populist thing which the world was beginning to see as an inevitable re-branding of an erstwhile winning formula lacking now in spiritual and emotional appeal and sullied by sundry missteps all over the terrain of its political and economic market stalls.

A Providential light of sorts has haloed the presidential project of Obama from its inception to this moment.

It was something ridiculed during the elections but let us face it, the world and this man so far appear to be ready for each other. He entered the tracks running.

Everybody knows it, except obdurate demagogues and partisan ideologues who while praying unabashedly for Obama’s failure forget that the entire enterprise is not really about Obama, not about you or me or anybody for that matter.

It is about the precious pithy nucleus called America, the planet’s most magnificent dream, mankind’s conglommeration of that precious and most worthy instrument of governance called democracy.

Obama cried to  us on campaign avenue that the tracks are  cluttered, the theatre full of dupes and the horizon bleak under dark scudding clouds, and we believed him.

And so he came in running with meticulously screened lieutenants and standard bearers chosen with the same diligence we saw during the elections, and we believed him.

So far all the critical appointments made by this President are players whose kicking stamina and heart we cannot really doubt or question.

His style and the dedication of his chosen helms folks inspire confidence, and much of the fear and anxiety which dogged our very steps appear to be dissipating, and all things being equal will dissipate by his first term’s end.

But of all Obama’s appointments and nominations, the most epochal must be the  judicial apex pick of Sotomayor.

In that single stroke, people and nation and history enact a happy confluence. It is a visionary nomination which absolves so much.

It is covenant and destiny in exhilarating union. If the Republicans are distressed and frustrated about that, it is because they have good political instinct too.

Its success denies Republicans Promethean claims and takes away  from them the pathfinders rod of national progress with its ethnic ramifications which the democrats, evidentially, always claim to have or hold.

And finders keepers, aiming at legacies, must always keep what they find for the posterity of future politics. That is the bottom line !

Those who  hate and frown at what Obama is doing with the commercial houses and industry have failed to proffer any alternatives with any hopes of winning.

They have also failed to recognize that we are where we are in many of this issues because of the lacunae which Obama walked into.

For every step or decision made by this President, the armchair critic of American government or presidential politics and action should have the courage to rise from the armchair and show us what the previous regime did.

There is nothing better than comparison and juxtaposition. I wonder now whether Rush Limbaugh will take up this challenge !

You cannot really question the necessity for the closure of Guantanamo. The wicked fist which landed a damaging black eye on the political face of this country initiated from that ugly world.

You cannot really question Obama’s overtures to the Middle East and Islam because the overtures are always measured and balanced in the criticism of both friend and foe.

It will work. Israeli leaders are bound to be alerted by Obama’s neo-Benjamin Franklin refurbished notion of a bad peace being better than a good war. So will  all the world’s interested parties. It will work with all the adversaries of this great country.

No one can ever convince me that the nearly 5000 young American lives and the over 20, 000 maimed with uncountable innocent Iraqi lives add up to the life of a loon of a dictator called Sadaam Hussein.

There is something wrong there with any contrarian mathematics. The President’s caution and circumvention of frontal collision with Ahmadinejad, and even North Korea is classic Shavian politics accenting the Roman festine lente! Make haste slowly!

Iran is dangerous from every perspective but some reckless hawkish politics begs the death wish irritatingly.

The President’s instinct is right there. One wishes that the same instinct was deployed in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Those countries need to resolve their internal crises on their own. The morass is their own and the dynamo of rehabilitation should be parented by the physics of their polity.

Those who really know Islam will not raise any cavils here. The fuel for Islamic fervor and obduracy is always more blood!

African pundits and politicians are aghast at Obama passing a visit to Nigeria, the African giant, for other smaller countries.

Ignominy should serve countries like Nigeria well.

Africans know, at least a couple of African proverbs admit, that you cannot pass by big festivals in favor of rituals of mean consequence. You wash your hands before you eat with kings. Ignominy is what the disarray in the house of the giant should  earn those who dwell within.

It will encourage efforts toward rebuilding and restitution. It will encourage dreams of big festivals in Nigeria and other such hapless polities. Again, the President’s instinct is right.

The President’s instinct is right has become an unintended refrain in this essay. Let sleeping dogs lie is oldest English in subtle pacifics.

There are problems in this world that will not admit  a let’s go get them battle cry. Today’s world needs more than that wild west principle.

Much of the old guard under George W Bush  must come around today to admit that fact. We will definitely find a different sun rising over the horizon of the new guard under President Barack Obama.

But for that to be,  the President must stay firm with his moral instincts about fairness and justice.

That was the mien and resonance of his campaign. He will prevail and win if he does not permit time and circumstance to vitiate what gave him abiding energy on the campaign trail.

The blazon on his banner must always remind us, friend and foe, that America means well for all the world as much as it means well for its most hallowed principles.

•Chimalum Nwankwo is Professor and Chair, Department of English, North Carolina A&T State University Greensboro.


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