Friday, May 09, 2008

Obama Moves To Reconcile Hillary Backers

Written on M.S. Prinsendam, Approaching Safaga, Egypt--

I saw Sen. Barack Obama being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN last night, looking relaxed but gearing up for the fall campaign. He was magnanimous toward Hillary, which, of course, he should be. It was Winston Churchill who once said, "if you have to kill someone, it costs nothing to be polite."

Mrs. Clinton also should have a great interest, in terms of restoring her reputation for integrity and fair dealing, to follow the New York Times' editorial advice today and drop her attacks against Obama and especially what the New York Times called the "disturbing racial undertones" of her campaign in whatever campaigning she chooses to do before withdrawing and endorsing Obama.

Going up against Sen. John McCain, Obama will have the upscale Democrats, the young, African-Americans, independents and a few Obama Republicans like me. He'll have to work to bring aboard the groups who have voted for Hillary in the primaries, blue collar whites, Latinos, Catholics and the elderly. But the issues are with the Democrats this year. I certainly do not share the fears expressed in some quarters that Obama will be a patsy in the fall and a victim, like Michael Dukakis, to Republican attacks.

Obama never has been, is not today, and will never be, a patsy.

In this vein, in the International Herald Tribune this morning, there's a wonderful column by Ellen Goodman about Obama's mother, who had the first name of Stanley, because her father had wanted a boy.

This was the Kansas white woman who had the temerity to marry a black Kenyan at a time when racial intermarriage was anathema to most Americans and illegal in some states. She gave Obama great genes of courage and wisdom, as did his father.

Obama, in accord with the greatest American presidential traditions, had remarkable parents. Their influence and his rise is already one of the great stories in the illustrious history of American politics.

Now, as many have said quietly to themselves, may the Secret Service do a good job of protecting him.

--

The unspeakably obscene military junta which has enslaved the people of Burma for 46 years now has committed a new outrage -- confiscating the first military aid carried in two UN planes into the country in the wake of the catasthropic cyclone that has struck it, killing many thousands. This has forced a suspension of the aid shipments, many of which had been unconscionably delayed by the junta anyway.

In the cases of Idi Amin's Uganda and Pol Pot's genocidal Cambodia, outside powers had to step in, sending military units to wrest control from the dictators and turning government over to the people. Much the same kind of thing should be done in Burma. Fortunately, in its case, the legally elected leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, held under house arrest for 12 years, is on hand to take over.

The world can and must not stand idly by any longer.

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