sábado, 31 de janeiro de 2009

O discurso de vitória de Michael Steele

Michael Steele é o novo líder do Partido Republicano


Michael Steele, 50 anos, foi eleito líder do RNC, o Republican National Comitee. É o primeiro negro a liderar o Partido Republicano, um facto sem dúvida histórico e que se explica num contexto de reacção, quase inconsciente, de um GOP ainda aturdido com o que lhe aconteceu a 4 de Novembro.

Duas semanas depois de Barack Obama ter sido empossado como primeiro Presidente negro da história da América, Michael Steele corporiza um avanço significativo no Partido Republicano, vencendo uma disputa renhida, que tinha seis contendores, sendo dois deles negros.

Após a sexta ronda, Steele venceu a corrida, com 91 votos, num universo de 168. Antigo vice-governador do estado do Maryland (no consulado de Robert Erhlirch), este advogado de perfil discreto, até se assemelha a Obama no registo ponderado e calmo, mas está longe, muito longe do brilhantismo oratório e intelectual do Presidente.

Seja como for, é um sinal interessante dado pelos republicanos. Até porque, no discurso de vitória, falou de um «retorno ao partido de Abraham Lincoln»...

É preciso, no entanto, explicar que o posto de presidente do RNC é quase administrativo, não tem muito relevo político. Os principais rostos do GOP nos próximos anos, já com a nomeação para a presidência em 2012 no horizonte, serão Bobby Jindal (governador da Louisiana), Sarah Palin (governadora do Alasca, candidata derrotada a vice-presidente no ticket de John McCain), Mitt Romney (ex-governador do Massachussets) e Jeb Bush (ex-governador da Florida, irmão e filho de dois ex-Presidentes).

Joe Biden vai liderar a «task force» para socorrer a classe média

sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2009

Judd Gregg, senador republicano, é o provável secretário do Comércio


Judd Gregg, 61 anos, senador republicano e antigo governador do New Hampshire, é o provável secretário do Comércio da Administração Obama.

Antigo líder do Comité do Orçamento no Senado, Gregg é senador desde 1993. Formado em Columbia, este advogado ligado ao mundo dos negócios é tido como um republicano moderado.

O cargo de secretário do Comércio ficou vago após o recuo de Bill Richardson. O governador do Novo México já tinha aceite a nomeação, mas renunciou após saber que estava a ser investigado num caso de eventuais financiamentos ilícitos da sua campanha presidencial.

Ainda não está confirmado, mas a aceitação de Gregg é muito provável. Obama já o terá convidado, apostando assim em mais um republicano no seu governo (que já tem Robert Gates na Defesa e Ray LaHood nos Transportes).

O Partido Republicano não vê com bons olhos a saída de Gregg do Senado, dado que aumenta ainda mais a diferença para o número de senadores democratas no Capitólio.

O GOP pretende manter os 41 senadores que conservaram após as eleições de Novembro (são necessários 40 para garantir a minoria de bloqueio, o filibuster). Se Gregg for mesmo para a Administração Obama, os dirigentes republicanos pretendem a garantia por parte do governador do New Hampshire, John Lynch, a quem cabe a decisão de nomear o sucessor de Gregg no Senado, indique um republicano.

'Obama's Reagan Moment is Now'


Um artigo de Ronald Brownstein, na National Journal Magazine

«In 1981, President Reagan took office against a backdrop of economic distress and public apprehension. In that crucible, he forged congressional majorities for a massive reduction in federal income-tax rates. That "supply-side" economic agenda, which only months earlier attracted little support beyond a vanguard of conservative legislators and theorists, reshaped federal priorities for decades.

Now President Obama has taken office against a backdrop of economic distress and public apprehension. In this crucible, he is advancing a massive increase in federal spending on programs from education to infrastructure. That "public investment" economic agenda, which has struggled for years to win support beyond a vanguard of liberal legislators and theorists, could reshape federal priorities for years.

To call the economic legislation now moving through Congress a stimulus bill obscures its full implications. The measure represents the most ambitious effort in decades to swell public spending on domestic priorities such as education, infrastructure, and scientific research that many Democrats consider the foundation stones of sustained prosperity.

The Democratic plan directs billions of dollars toward relief for unemployed workers and local governments, as well as billions more for short-term projects (road construction, energy rehab projects) meant to quickly generate jobs. But it also provides the biggest surge in long-term public investment since President Johnson's Great Society in the 1960s.

"No president in my lifetime has had this opportunity to fund public investments," says Robert Reich, a University of California (Berkeley) public policy professor who advised Obama's campaign. Reich should know. As President Clinton's Labor secretary, he was the administration's chief proponent of public investments. That proved a dubious honor. Like Obama, Clinton took office pledging to close what he called "twin deficits" in public investment and the federal budget. But Clinton's first budgets sublimated investment to reducing the federal deficit. And after 1994, he faced a Republican-controlled Congress resistant to new spending.

Clinton won increases for some Democratic investment priorities. But, overall, his gains were modest. During President George H.W. Bush's four years, federal domestic public investment (on infrastructure, research, training, and education) averaged $121 billion a year, according to Office of Management and Budget figures. Under Clinton, that average increased to $143 billion (in inflation-adjusted dollars). That meant Clinton increased public investment over the elder Bush's baseline by a total of about $176 billion over two terms.

Even separating out the immediate relief for local governments and the unemployed, the recovery bill that the House approved funds about $280 billion in new public investments. That total represents "a greater commitment to public investment than Clinton was able to accomplish in all eight years," says Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.

From a Democratic perspective, much of that investment -- for new roads, transit systems, or school construction -- serves the dual function of creating short-term jobs and encouraging long-term growth. But the bill also emphatically expands programs targeted more at the far term than the near term -- from aid to schools in low-income areas ($13 billion) to expanded college loans ($16 billion) and scientific research ($10 billion).

In normal times, Congress might never enlarge so many programs at once. But, as with Reagan's tax cut, the crisis-induced demand for action may suspend the normal laws of political gravity -- and allow Democrats to redirect federal priorities as boldly as Reagan did. "This is a once-in-a-25-year opportunity to [implement] a lot of our agenda," a top House Democratic aide says. Largely for that reason, most congressional Republicans are likely to resist the plan, no matter how many more tax cuts Obama offers them.

Success will create its own challenges for Obama. After this spasm of spending, congressional Democrats will surely divide over how much of the new funding should be made permanent -- and whether Washington can afford other Obama priorities, such as universal health care. Democrats will also face the burden of producing results. Almost all Democrats think that Reagan's tax-cutting revolution, especially as revived by President George W. Bush in 2001, failed to generate widely shared growth. Now they'll learn whether large-scale public investment can do better. "Finally, we can implement the vision," Reich says, "and ultimately test whether it was correct." With the economy flat-lining, the economic and political stakes in this experiment could not be higher.»

Rod Blagojevich destituído do cargo de governador do Illinois

quinta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2009

Sugestão do dia*

RELAÇÕES INTERNACIONAIS
Blogue de Ana Cristina Ferreira, sobre temas internacionais. Simples, conciso, bem escrito e apelativo. E com uma citação de arranque simplesmente genial, de Carlo Goldini: «O Mundo é um belo livro, mas é pouco útil a quem não o sabe ler»

Aqui fica o link: http://relinternacionais.blogspot.com

* uma nova rubrica do CASA BRANCA que apontará blogues e sites, portugueses ou estrangeiros, relacionados com política internacional

'The Power of Obama's Hand'


Um artigo de Andie Coller, no Politico.com

«Joe Lieberman has felt it. So has Joe the Plumber.

It’s the Obama Touch — the squeeze on the biceps, the pat on the shoulder or the tap on the back that signals the displeasure of the commander in chief. Let others turn on the deep freeze or lose their cool when they’re annoyed. Obama prefers to deal with problems by taking them in hand — literally.

Just ask Vice President Joe Biden, who made a joke about Chief Justice John Roberts flubbing the oath of office last week and immediately felt his boss’s disapproval, in the form of Obama’s fingers on his back.

“[Obama] was castigating him. There’s no other way to put it,” says Joe Navarro, a former FBI special agent specializing in nonverbal communication. “Biden got it immediately,” he adds. “It looked like a little, subtle touch, but you could immediately see that Vice President Biden was contrite after that.”

In Biden’s case, Obama’s touch was itself a message, but in other cases, the Touch serves to underscore a spoken point — as reporters both on and off the campaign trail have learned.

During his visit to the White House press room last week, Obama responded to a Politico reporter’s unwanted question with a verbal rebuke — and a series of shoulder pats so emphatic as to be audible.

See also
Palin, Obama to share stage
White House plans hardball
Obama stimulus clears House
“We use touch to create effective communications, so if you’re not getting the message through my words, this is how we can establish better communication, with that touch,” explains Navarro.

Although Obama was clearly annoyed, Navarro adds, the gesture was conciliatory, rather than aggressive. “You didn’t see a closed fist or a pointed finger,” he says. “It was what we call full palmartouch.”

A scribe who personally received a hand-on-shoulder talking-to from the then-senator on the campaign trail says that the message was mixed. He says he knew Obama was irritated but that the Touch felt “confidential” and that he also had the sense that Obama was trying to connect with him.

The contact, he said, “seemed to have a twofold purpose — to express his annoyance and also to convince you that you were wrong.”

Another member of the press, who witnessed a similar moment with a colleague during the campaign, recalls thinking the gesture seemed intended to regain control over the conversation — friendly on the surface but also a little intimidating.

This dual experience is no accident; in sensitive situations, Obama typically uses touch to control and console simultaneously. An extreme example of this arose in June of last year, when Obama was approached in Philadelphia by an aggressive fan who wanted a photo with the candidate.

The man came close enough to pose a physical threat, and yet instead of backing away or pushing past him, Obama paused to grasp the man’s arm as he explained that he couldn’t stop for a picture.

“That was a way of placating, making him feel that ‘I’m here, I’m listening to you,’” says Maxine Lucille Fiel, a behavioral analyst and body language expert.

Navarro agrees, adding that the Touch is part of a larger skill set. “We establish empathetic channels of communication through touch. Very good social people will often touch on the shoulder, touch on the arm. It releases the chemical oxytocin. If you touch people, they perceive you as friendlier. Studies have shown that if a waiter or waitress touches you, they get a bigger tip.”

Obama, of course, is a fairly hands-on president in general, a frequent employer of the handshake-plus-upper-arm-grab and the friendly hand-on-back. He is less physical than the notorious LBJ, perhaps, but more so than his predecessor, who himself wound up under Obama’s guiding hand when the soon-to-be first couple came to visit the White House in November.

The move rankled some who saw it as usurping President Bush’s authority, yet the impulse was not atypical: Indeed, Obama himself recalls in “The Audacity of Hope” that he realized only after the fact that he had probably unnerved the Secret Service, and some of his colleagues, by unconsciously putting his arm around Bush during a White House gathering for new senators in 2005.

Obama’s admonishing touch can be almost as nuanced as his oratory. Take for example his infamous meeting with Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher in Toledo, Ohio, last year. Joe got a friendly, encouraging slap on the side of the shoulder from Obama as he began to ask whether his company would have to pay higher taxes under Obama’s plan. But when Joe tried to interrupt Obama’s lengthy response, Obama subdued him with a gentle pat on the top of the shoulder, explaining, “I just want to answer your question.” The gesture read, “Please don’t interrupt me,” but it also said, “Hear me out, friend.”

Sometimes, however, the meaning of the Touch is not subtle at all. After Lieberman implied that Obama was soft on Iran last June, the two men met on the Senate floor later that day, and Obama greeted Lieberman with a pat on the shoulder and a handshake. But instead of letting go, Obama held on to Lieberman’s hand — and pulled him off to a corner to continue the discussion.

Their subsequent conversation was reportedly lengthy and animated — but if they failed to resolve their differences, Obama will surely be in touch.»

Obama assinou a Lei de Equidade Salarial*



* tornando em lei uma proposta feita por Lilly Ledbetter (o 'Fair Pay Act'), na sequência de uma decisão do Supremo Tribunal dos EUA, de 2007, no caso Ledbetter vs Goodyear Tire E Rubber Co, e que já tinha passado no Senado, a 22 de Janeiro, por 61-36.

A mudança está aí: os EUA estão dispostos a falar com o Irão


«Penso que é importante que estejamos prontos a falar com o Irão, para dizer claramente quais são as nossas divergências e encontrar possibilidades de progresso. Se o Irão estiver disponível para abrir o punho cerrado, encontrará a mão estendida dos Estados Unidos da América».
BARACK OBAMA, Presidente dos EUA

Obama reuniu com empresários americanos e voltou a insistir na ideia de relançar a economia

75 por cento dos americanos têm confiança...


... de que Barack Obama vai mesmo conseguir mudar Washington.

SONDAGEM

«Agora que Obama já é Presidente, acredita mesmo que ele vai mudar Washington?»

-- 36% estão muito confiantes

-- 39% estão confiantes


-- 12% não estão assim muito confiantes

-- 10% não têm nenhuma confiança nisso

-- 3% estão indecisos

(fonte: DIAGEO/HOTLINE POLL)

terça-feira, 27 de janeiro de 2009

'John Lewis: The President's Hero'

Um artigo de David Remnick, na New Yorker, sobre o activista dos direitos cívicos, herói da luta pelos direitos dos negros e congressista pela Geórgia, John Lewis, que no início das primárias apoiou Hillary Clinton e, a meio, mudou a posição para Obama, ao perceber que Barack tinha mesmo condições para ser o primeiro Presidente negro (na tomada de posse, ao chegar ao local da cerimónia, perante a multidão de dois milhões de pessoas, o primeiro abraço de Obama foi a Lewis):


«A couple of decades ago, when Barack Obama was on a break from Harvard Law School and visiting friends in Chicago, he carried around a copy of “Parting the Waters,” the first volume of Taylor Branch’s magnificent trilogy about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the rise of the civil-rights movement. Obama was staying with Jerry Kellman, his mentor during his three years as a community organizer on the South Side. Kellman said that he greatly admired Branch’s book. Obama brightened and said, “Yes, it’s my story.”

Mind reading is a decidedly low form of journalism. Yet it is not hard to imagine that as Obama emerged into the noonday light last Tuesday to receive the oath of office, as he left the Capitol’s warm interior and saw before him the carpet of humanity stretching down Capitol Hill to the monuments miles distant, that he made a mental leap to Marian Anderson’s defiant concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, to the March on Washington that King led twenty-four years later, to the entire story of a struggle that he was too young to join but came to claim as his own.

After absorbing the thudding roar from the Mall, Obama glanced to his right. He spotted there on the steps, a few feet away, John Lewis––squat, bald, hatless––the eleven-term representative of Georgia’s fifth congressional district and the only one of the speakers at the March on Washington still among the living. Obama bent to embrace him.

“Congratulations, Mr. President,” Lewis whispered in his ear.

Obama smiled at the sound of that and said, “Thank you, John. I’ll need your prayers.”

“You’ll have them, Mr. President. That, and all my support.”

At the March on Washington, King’s speech was the most eloquent, Lewis’s the most radical. Lewis was just twenty-three at the time, the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coördinating Committee. In the original draft of his speech, the demand for racial justice and “serious revolution” was so fearless that, in the last minutes before the program began, Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins, and other movement organizers negotiated with him to remove any phrases that might offend the Kennedy Administration. Lewis planned to say, “We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground––nonviolently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy.” He had to lose the bit about Sherman’s army, but the rest of the text, capped by its final warning—“We will not be patient!”––left no doubt about Lewis or about the audacious generation he represented.

Two years later, in Selma, Lewis led a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge straight into a blockade set up by Alabama state troopers. The first nightstick came down on Lewis’s skull. The troopers used whips, horses, a hose wrapped in barbed wire. Along with Lewis, ninety demonstrators were injured. At the White House, Lyndon Johnson watched it all on television and deepened his resolve to push the Voting Rights Act. The day before Obama’s Inauguration, which marked what would have been King’s eightieth birthday, Lewis told a visitor at his office in the Cannon House Office Building, “Barack Obama is what comes at the end of that bridge in Selma.”

from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisInaugural weekend was “bewildering” to John Lewis. “It is almost too much, too emotional,” he said. Preaching at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Ninth Street N.W., Lewis had told parishioners that he would have thought that only a “crazy” person would predict the election of an African-American President in his lifetime, but now he was sure that the masses on the Mall would be joined by the “saints and angels”: by Harriet Tubman and Carter G. Woodson, Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois, Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Sojourner Truth.

For hours, Lewis greeted constituents at his office and handed out inaugural tickets. Then he set off to visit the Mall, moving, it seemed, in a daze of unreality. He could not quite believe the size of the crowds gathering so early—especially the great numbers of African-Americans, young and old, many of them from distant places.

Lewis grew up in Pike County, Alabama—the Jim Crow South. His parents picked cotton, peanuts, and corn; the children left school at harvest time to join them. Their small house had no electricity or running water. Their lives, according to the dictates of Alabama law after the collapse of Reconstruction, were stripped of democratic rights and human possibility.

Lewis read his Bible and on Sundays tuned in to WRMA, the gospel station out of Montgomery, to hear the Soul Stirrers and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Lewis was a soulful, intelligent, and eccentric child. When religious feeling washed over him, he began visiting the henhouse out back to preach to the Dominiques and the Rhode Island Reds. The chickens composed his ministry: Lewis baptized new chicks; he raised and fed them; he buried the dead under a mound of wildflowers. As Lewis wrote many years later in his autobiography, “Walking with the Wind,” he was a lonely searcher learning compassion for God’s creatures.

One Sunday morning in 1955, when he was fifteen, Lewis listened to a sermon on WRMA called “Paul’s Letter to the American Christians.” The story was of Paul’s call to brotherhood. The preacher was a young Baptist in Atlanta named Martin Luther King. Two years later, Lewis made contact with King and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and, in no time, King became his mentor and his friend. As a teen-age seminarian in Nashville, Lewis attended nonviolence workshops, organized lunch-counter sit-ins, and took part in the first Freedom Rides, constantly risking arrests, harassment, and beatings.

As Lewis walked around the Mall last week, shaking hands, posing for hundreds of photographs, a young African-American introduced himself as the police chief of Rock Hill, South Carolina. “Imagine that,” Lewis said. “I was beaten near to death at the Rock Hill Greyhound bus terminal during the Freedom Rides in 1961. Now the police chief is black.”

At the beginning of the 2008 campaign, Lewis, a Clinton-family loyalist, sided with Hillary––as did the majority of African-Americans. By February, however, when it became clear to him and to so many others that Obama was not running a symbolic race, that he represented “a movement” and could win, Lewis had switched.

“Barack has lifted people,” Lewis said, as he posed for pictures with some women from D.C. “Old people, young people, children, black and white. Look out on the Mall here. You can see it in their walk, can’t you?”

One teen-age boy sweetly asked, “Mr. Lewis, my mama says you marched with Dr. King. Is that true?” Like an old fighter who is not displeased to recount ancient combat, Lewis nodded and said, well, yes he had, and perhaps for the five thousandth time he sketched the journey from Selma to Montgomery.

“Barack was born long before he could experience or understand the movement,” Lewis said, heading back to the Capitol. “He had to move toward it in his own time, but it is so clear that he digested it, the spirit and the language of the movement. The way he made it his own reminds me of a trip I made to South Africa in March, 1994, before the post-apartheid elections. We met with a few leaders of the African National Congress—young people—and despite their age they knew everything about the late fifties and sixties in the American South, the birth of the civil-rights movement. They were using the same rhetoric, they had the same emotional force. One young South African actor got up and recited a poem by a black slave woman from Georgia! And that is the way it is with Barack. He has absorbed the lessons and spirit of the civil-rights movement. But, at the same time, he doesn’t have the scars of the movement, because of how he grew up. He has not been knocked around as much by the past.”

Obama’s promise to shut down Guantánamo, to outlaw torture and begin reversing immediately some of the most egregious policies of the Bush era, gave Lewis hope that “the movement” had finally come to the White House.

“People have been afraid to hope again, to believe again,” he said. “We have lost great leaders: John F. Kennedy, Martin, Robert Kennedy. And so people might have questioned whether or not to place their full faith in a symbol and a leader. The danger of disappointment is immense, the problems are so big. None of them can be solved in a day or a year. And that’s the way it was with the civil-rights movement. This is the struggle of a lifetime. We play our part and fulfill our role.”

At the luncheon following the swearing-in ceremony, Lewis approached Obama with a commemorative photograph and asked him to sign it. The President wrote, “Because of you, John. Barack Obama.”»

A primeira entrevista de fundo a uma televisão dada por Obama após a tomada de posse...

... foi à Al-Arabiya, num claro gesto de reconciliação com o mundo árabe.

Como é que a Direita cristã vê Barack Obama?

A defesa do indefensável*



* ou as contradições da política americana: o mesmo estado, o Illinois, foi capaz de catapultar um jovem senador negro para a Presidência e, na mesma fase, elegeu um governador corrupto e com tendências mitómanas -- este senhor, Rod Blagojevich

Timothy Geithner foi confirmado no Senado, por 60-34



Está longe de ser um secretário do Tesouro consensual, mas são os mercados a mostrar, pelas primeiras reacções, que Geithner está bem colocado para, com a ajuda de Larry Summers, Peter Orszag e Christina Rohmer, agarrar o touro pelos cornos. Vai mesmo ser preciso.

Obama lança George Mitchell, com Hillary ao lado



Vai ser uma das missões mais importantes do primeiro ano de Administração: o ex-senador George Mitchell, um dos negociadores da paz na Irlanda do Norte, partirá para o Médio Oriente. Israel continua a ter supremacia nas visões americanas (basta olhar para alguns dos principais conselheiros de Obama), mas é o Presidente a garantir: «Há que assegurar os que os palestinianos têm condições dignas de sobrevivência.»

A apresentação teve a secretária de Estado, Hillary Clinton, ao lado. A escolha de Mitchell é aposta conjunta dos ex-rivais das primárias -- e muito do bom relacionamento entre Presidente e secretária de Estado passará por um sucesso desta missão (quase) impossível.

Obama insiste na urgência de avançar com um plano de estímulo à economia e concede aos estados autonomia para fixares limites nas emissões de gases

segunda-feira, 26 de janeiro de 2009

68 por cento de aprovação


O CASA BRANCA inicia hoje um barómetro semanal da Administração Obama. Todas as segundas-feiras, teremos a actualização da taxa de aprovação do novo Presidente.

O primeiro valor é próprio de inícios de ciclo. Veremos se estes números se mantêm daqui para a frente....

BARACK OBAMA
Aprovação: 68%

Reprovação: 12%
Indecisos: 21%

(fonte: Gallup)

O primeiro Presidente «pós-babyboomer»


«Quando ele terça-feira falou sobre a necessidade de cortar com o passado, de deixar as infantilidades, isso foi quase universalmente interpretado como uma bofetada a Bush. O que sem dúvida foi. Mas parece-me que ele não estava a falar só de Bush, mas também de Clinton. De toda a era 'pós-sixties', a chamada era dos babyboomers. Essa geração não conseguiu praticamente nada, tirando destruir-se a si mesma. Esse é o tema dos livros de Obama, dos seus primeiros discursos. Ele di-lo subtilmente, para não irritar os aliados, mas apresenta-se sempre como algo diferente».

MATT BAI, jornalista do New York Times e autor do livro 'The Argument: Inside the Battle to Remake Democratic Politics', em entrevista concedida ao Expresso

Joe Biden é, de facto, bem mais divertido do que Dick Cheney...

E é engraçado ver como são diferentes os estilos do Presidente e do vice-presidente: Barack é cerebral e hipercontrolado; Joe é desbocado e propenso a gaffes...

domingo, 25 de janeiro de 2009

Joe Biden respondeu esta manhã ao «Face The Nation»*


Watch CBS Videos Online

* com uma indicação esclarecedora: «Não libertaremos os presos de Guantánamo em território norte-americano»

'A MULTIPOLAR WORLD - America's next step'


Um artigo de Mikhail Gorbachev, o último líder da URSS, publicado no International Herald Tribune:

«Support for President Barack Obama among Americans, including many who did not vote for him, is unprecedented. Globally, too, there has been deep interest in the election and widespread hope for change in U.S. policy. Practically everyone the world over now wishes Obama success.

The main reasons for this are the pressures of global economic and political tensions that have been piling up for decades. In his inauguration speech, Obama somberly cited these problems. The crisis, he said, is "a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age."

Understandably, the president will focus first on the economic crisis. But solving America's economic problems without cardinal changes in the world will be impossible. The "Washington consensus" that assumed that the global economy could be designed from a single center has been discredited. It was based entirely on the profit motive, over-consumption and failed, outdated institutions.

A new model must recognize the need for multilateral cooperation. In his speech, Obama acknowledged that today's threats demand "even greater cooperation and understanding between nations." I am sure that however strong the criticism and even anger over some U.S. actions has been throughout the world - in Europe, China, India, Russia, Latin America - leaders and the general public understand the importance of America's role and are ready to cooperate with it.

But is America ready? In his speech, Obama said, "The world has changed, and we must change with it." The commitment to those words must be proven by specific deeds and decisions. This will require a realistic analysis of the global situation - the kind of analysis that has been lacking in the United States for nearly two decades. America has been widely seen as almost omnipotent. But arrogance and triumphalism blinded it as a policy-maker; slogans replaced serious thinking.

The outcome of the presidential election is an acknowledgement that America's strength does not come from empire-building or military adventures but from its ability to correct its mistakes. A course for foreign policy is not plotted overnight, particularly when what's needed is not a mere adjustment but a full revision. What the president and members of his team have said thus far is not enough to discern the direction they will take.

Obama is getting all kinds of advice. Zbigniew Brzezinski is proposing a focus on relations with China. His recent remarks in Beijing seem to suggest a kind of condominium, a U.S.-China G-2. Of course, China's global economic and political importance will keep growing, but I think those who would like to start a new geopolitical game will be in for a disappointment. China is unlikely to accept; more generally, such games belong to the past. Similarly, Henry Kissinger's proposals for "a new world order" seem to assume a new geopolitical division of the world. What we really need are new, more modern approaches.

A number of European public figures have urged Obama to reconsider past policies that have long been taken for granted. The United States, which in 1990 signed the Paris Charter for a New Europe, could be a natural partner in creating a new European security structure - a project now under discussion.

I also hope the president sees the great potential inherent in relations with Russia, which have been mishandled in recent years. A change for the better could be achieved relatively soon, helping to move toward healthier relations with Russia's neighbors and within Europe as a whole.

In shaping Mideast policy, a real battle is inevitable. If anything should have become crystal clear in recent years, it's that "business as usual" only makes the Middle East more dangerous. Current U.S. policies have not been good for the region as a whole or, in particular, for Israel, a nation with which the United States has special relations.

Two long-term problems have taken on a special urgency and will require Obama's close attention: nuclear proliferation and the environmental crisis. It will not be easy to disentangle the intricate web of contradictions surrounding these issues.

Reducing nonproliferation to the demand that Iran and North Korea cease their nuclear programs will lead to a dead end. The nuclear powers will not be able to hold on to their monopoly indefinitely, and the nonproliferation treaty does not allow it.

The solution is to move toward a world without nuclear weapons. But this goal cannot be achieved if one country retains an overwhelming superiority in conventional weapons. Without specific steps to reduce these weapons - more generally, without demilitarizing international politics - we will have only empty talk. What's needed is a real breakthrough, like the one achieved in the late 1980s.

Judging by Obama's inaugural speech, he understands that even while he faces the immediate challenges of the economic crisis, he should not push to the sidelines problems like poverty and environmental issues, particularly climate change. Fostering economic development and preserving the planet for future generations can be contradictory; the only way to resolve this clash of priorities is to develop policies multilaterally. This is true of practically every problem, in all areas.

I suspect that many people are pondering Obama's call for a new era of responsibility. Perhaps neither he nor we can yet see what shape it will take.

One thing is already clear, though: We are indeed on the cusp of a new age, on the road to a new world, one we must travel together.»

sábado, 24 de janeiro de 2009

BASTIDORES DA TOMADA DE POSSE (IV)


Concentração máxima antes de contemplar a multidão de dois milhões de pessoas, no National Mall

BASTIDORES DA TOMADA DE POSSE (III)


A sorrir para a digital do vice-presidente Joe Biden

BASTIDORES DA TOMADA DE POSSE (II)


Malia tira uma foto ao pai, que já está aprumado para um dos bailes

BASTIDORES DA TOMADA DE POSSE (I)


Barack e Michelle preparam-se para entrar num dos dez Bailes Presidenciais

Obama dá mais pormenores sobre o Plano de Reinvestimento e Recuperação

'E agora, Obama?'


É um novo livro, com lançamento previsto para 4 de Fevereiro da autoria de Carlos Santos, professor de Economia e autor do blogue «O Valor das Ideias» (http://ovalordasideias.blogspot.com). Leitura duplamente recomendada: a do livro e a do blogue.

A edição é da Esfera do Caos.

Figuras-chave na sombra (I): Jim Steinberg


James B. Steinberg, 55 anos, é o número dois de Hillary Clinton no Departamento de Estado. E é, também, uma das provas da jewish connection da Administração Obama.

Formado em Harvard e em Yale (faz o pleno das principais referências da Ivy League...), este judeu de origem apoiou Hillary nas primárias, mas foi um dos principais conselheiros de Obama em questões do Médio Oriente, durante o período de transição.

Esteve na shorlist para o cargo de Conselheiro de Segurança Nacional (que acabou por ser atribuído ao general Jim Jones), mas a sua escolha para secretário de Estado adjunto mostra bem como, apesar da vontade mostrada por Obama em abrir uma nova página na questão israelo-palestiniana, o lado americano continua muito claro.

Académico e intelectual respeitado, dirigiu, nos últimos anos, a Lyndon Johnson School of Public Affairs da Universidade de Austin.

O quarto dia da nova Administração

As primeiras 100 horas da era Obama

sexta-feira, 23 de janeiro de 2009

Kirsten Gillibrand vai suceder a Hillary


Um dia depois do anúncio surpresa da saída de Caroline Kennedy da corrida ao senado norte-americana, em representação de Nova Iorque, o governador de NY, David Paterson, decidiu terminar com as especulações e anunciou a sua escolha para suceder a Hillary Clinton:

Kirsten Gillibrand, 42 anos, é membro da Câmara dos Representantes desde Janeiro de 2007, tendo sido eleita pelo 20.º distrito congressional de Nova Iorque.


Figura próxima dos Clinton, serviu durante a Administração de Bill Clinton como conselheira do secretário do Planeamento Urbanístico, Andrew Cuomo. Curiosamente, vai ocupar um posto que chegou a ser desejado pelo filho do antigo governador de Nova Iorque, Mario Cuomo.

Advogada de formação, estudou na Dartmouth College e na UCLA School of Law e é filha de um lobbyista ligado ao antigo governador de Nova Iorque, George Pataki (republicano).

As expectativas de Colin Powell sobre a 'era Obama'

'A Most Promising Start for Obama'


Um artigo de Stuart Taylor, na National Journal Magazine

«Like a great many other Americans at this singular moment in history, I have rarely been so alarmed about the state of the world -- and have never been so hopeful about the promise of a new president.

Standing amid hundreds of thousands of celebrants between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument at the "We Are One" concert on Sunday, and watching Barack Obama's inaugural address two days later, my family and I felt the thrill that raised so many spirits. Despite the dark economic times, the wars, the terrorist threat, the health care mess, the impossibility of quickly surmounting any of these crises -- despite even the overarching fear that America's best days may be behind us -- hope was ascendant.

No human being could possibly meet the soaring expectations that electrified those inaugural crowds. But our new president may have what it takes to uplift the country as much as any president could.

I worried in a pre-election column that Obama's down-the-line liberal voting record and associations with some extremists did not give a centrist like me much confidence that he would "resist pressure from Democratic interest groups, ideologues, and congressional leaders to steer hard to the left."

But since then he has done much to fulfill the hope expressed in that same column that he might prove to be "the pragmatic, consensus-building, inspirational Obama who has been on display during the general election campaign."

He has chosen a talented, experienced, pragmatic team of national security and economic advisers who seem more focused on fixing what's broken than on grinding ideological axes.

His retention of Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates is one of several signs that he "does not want to be the guy who lost Iraq when it is close to being won," as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told The New York Times.

I have no idea what Obama should do to revive the free-falling economy. But I have as much confidence in his team's ability to figure that out as in any other group of experts I can imagine.

More broadly, Obama has shown the intellectual self-confidence and curiosity to approach ideological adversaries with respect and learn from them. Perhaps he also has the political skills to build a coalition broad and potent enough to overcome the bitter polarization that has dominated official Washington and infected the nation for so long.

I hope to see Obama marginalize the likes of both talk radio's Rush Limbaugh, who recently said, "I hope he fails," and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who recently implied that Obama will have failed unless he hounds ex-President Bush and his national security team with criminal prosecutions for their brutal interrogation methods.

While many on the left spew hatred at the deeply flawed but honorably motivated Bush, Obama has paid tribute to "the sincerity and worthiness of President Bush's concerns about democracy and human rights." The new president has also put aside the bitterness of last year's campaign by making extraordinary efforts to build a collaborative relationship with his defeated rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

The world knows that Obama spoke the truth when he said, "In no other country on earth is my story even possible."

Obama's Inaugural Address combined eloquence with hard truths. He spoke of "our collective failure to make hard decisions" and said that "on this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for too long have strangled our politics."

"Because he is young, handsome, and intelligent," as The Economist puts it, "and also because as the child of a Kansan and a Kenyan he reconciles in his own person one of the world's most hateful divisions, Mr. Obama carries with him the hopes of the planet." Adds my former National Journal colleague Carl M. Cannon, now of Reader's Digest: "Let's not lose sight of how profound a development we are privileged to witness." Let's not.

Obama carries the hopes of African-Americans in particular. It was beautiful to watch the joy of the millions for whom his election fulfilled an impossible dream. Victimized for centuries by a system of brutal oppression, many have been misled amid the astonishing racial progress of recent decades by demagogues who claim that racial oppression remains pervasive. It is a false claim, and one that will not educate a single black child, create a single good job, or take a single step toward ending the desolation of poor black people.

"There is an entire generation that will grow up taking for granted that the highest office in the land is filled by an African-American," Obama said in an interview with The Washington Post. "I mean, that's a radical thing. It changes how black children look at themselves. It also changes how white children look at black children."

To be sure, the Obama administration will bring some policies, and some judicial nominees, that a centrist such as me won't like -- as would also be the case if Republicans were in charge. Democratic congressional majorities and interest groups, including trial lawyers, labor unions, and the racial-preference lobby, will push hard for their pet programs, many of which Obama himself has already endorsed. Congress has started moving, for example, on Obama-backed civil-rights amendments that could bring a new flood of job discrimination suits -- more of them unwarranted, I would guess, than well-founded.

But the new president's exceptional intelligence and faithfulness (so far) to his campaign stance as a consensus-builder give me hope that he will stop short of ramming through extreme partisan measures just because he can get the votes, and that he will strike careful balances.

Consider, for example, the balance struck by Obama and his Attorney General-designate Eric Holder on the need to remain vigilant against terrorism while undoing Bush-Cheney claims of virtually unlimited presidential power to override civil liberties.

On this front, it was impolitic of me to suggest in my December 6 column that to avoid dismantling essential defenses against terrorism, Obama should "kick the hard Left gently in the teeth." That upset some bloggers.

I should have said "gently in the shins." And I am glad to report that Obama and Holder have been kicking away:

• While vowing to close Guantanamo, both have strongly implied that they will spurn the demands of liberal groups that they release the dozens of apparently dangerous Guantanamo detainees who cannot be criminally prosecuted.

• Holder made it clear in his confirmation testimony that the real problem with Bush's warrantless wiretapping program was not any unjustifiable invasion of privacy, as extreme civil libertarians have long maintained. Rather, the real problem was that for years Bush secretly defied the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act based on the dubious theory that Congress could not limit his powers, when he should and could instead have persuaded Congress to amend FISA. Bush and Congress finally did that last year, with Obama's support.

• Although Obama opposed a provision conferring immunity from lawsuits on companies that had helped the government implement these wiretaps, Holder wisely dismissed the clamor from the Left for Congress to repeal it.

• Holder made it clear that the president does have some war powers that Congress cannot infringe -- a view that extreme civil libertarians have long trashed as indefensible. He also said: "I don't think there's any question but that we're at war," implicitly rejecting the left-liberal/European elite view that Al Qaeda presents only a law-enforcement problem.

• Holder testified that he would support extension, with appropriate amendments, of three valuable USA PATRIOT Act provisions that have been furiously denounced by the ACLU, other extreme civil libertarians, misinformed librarians, and others. These include Section 215, which authorizes the FBI to obtain an order from the special FISA court to require any business or other organization to surrender any materials relevant to a foreign terrorism investigation.

• He also endorsed new FBI investigative guidelines denounced by libertarians as encouraging racial profiling.

• While declaring waterboarding to be torture and renouncing use of such brutal interrogation methods, Obama and Holder have strongly implied that they have no use for the Left's lust to prosecute as "war criminals" Bush, Dick Cheney, or the many other high-level officials who approved waterboarding and other brutal methods in reliance on Justice Department advice that they were legal.

There's no doubt that these harsh methods, symbolized by Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and Bush's bravado have badly stained America's image in much of the world. So it's nice to see the Washington Post Foreign Service reporting that Obama's election has made it "cool to be an American again."

Of course, we may be back in the international doghouse once it becomes clear that Obama will continue some of the Bush policies that have been so reviled abroad. But the world knows that Obama spoke the truth when he said four years ago that "in no other country on earth is my story even possible."

And we Americans know the truth that he spoke in front of Abraham Lincoln's marble statue on Sunday: "Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that the dream of our Founders will live on in our time."»

George Mitchell é o enviado-especial para o Médio Oriente


George Mitchell, 75 anos, antigo senador pelo Maine, foi indigitado pelo Presidente Obama para ser enviado-especial da Administração americana para o Médio Oriente.

Mitchell, antigo líder da maioria democrata no Senado (1989-1995), foi uma escolha conjunta de Obama e de Hillary Clinton, horas depois de a nova secretária de Estado ter iniciado funções.

Esteve muito perto de ser o vice-presidente de Al Gore, em 2000, mas volta agora à primeira linha da política, com uma missão fundamental para se perceber a capacidade de influências dos novos ventos que correm em Washington.

Richard Holbrooke, embaixador na ONU durante a Administração Clinton, será enviado ao Afeganistão e Paquistão. Holbrooke teria sido um provável secretário de Estado se Hillary tivesse ganho a corrida à Casa Branca.

John McCain, de bem com a vida, mas já crítico em relação a Obama

... por pensar que o novo Presidente se precipitou na forma como já assinou o encerramento de Guantánamo:

quinta-feira, 22 de janeiro de 2009

Já está assinado: Guantánamo vai fechar

Hillary Clinton, a 67.ª secretária de Estado norte-americana, terceira mulher a ocupar este alto cargo

«At the heart of smart power are smart people»
HILLARY CLINTON, no seu discurso de apresentação aos funcionários do Departamento de Estado


Instantâneos da multidão, na tomada de posse

Obama em acção na Casa Branca (ainda não parece muito real, pois não?)

Caroline Kennedy desiste



Caroline Kennedy, 51 anos, a única filha viva de John Kennedy, desistiu da corrida ao lugar deixado vago por Hillary Clinton no Senado dos EUA, em representação do estado de Nova Iorque.

Caroline escreveu ao governador de NY, David Paterson, que decidirá quem vai suceder a Hillary, alegando «razões de ordem pessoal».

O caminho parece, assim, aberto para Andrew Cuomo, filho do antigo governador de Nova Iorque, Mario Cuomo e ex-marido de Kerry Kennedy, filha de Bobby Kennedy.

Obama repetiu o juramento -- agora sem fífias..

O primeiro dia na Casa Branca


No dia seguinte às festas de Inauguração, Obama começou o trabalho a sério e, entre muitas outras acções, reuniu com os conselheiros da equipa económica

Obama quis dar um claro sinal de mudança logo no primeiro dia de Administração. Com três medidas concretas, cada uma delas com um forte significado simbólico em relação ao que devem ser os anos que aí vêm:

-- congelou os salários mais altos da sua própria Administração

-- suspendeu por quatro meses os processos judiciais em Guantánamo

-- limitou a acção dos 'lobbyistas', por forma a aumentar a transparência das decisões políticas

'Lincoln's Lessons for a New President'


Um artigo de Jay Winik, historiador de Presidentes americanos e autor do livro «The Great Upheaval: America and the birth of the modern world»

«Now that the grandeur of the inauguration is over, this morning is President Barack Obama's first in the Oval Office, and the hard work of governing finally begins. More than any president in memory, Mr. Obama has evoked Abraham Lincoln. He made his presidential announcement in Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln once served as a legislator. He copiously read Lincoln histories. He placed his hand yesterday on the Lincoln Bible. But what are the real lessons of Abraham Lincoln for his presidency?

Early on, Lincoln learned that tumult is inherent in governing. Mr. Obama has already declared that he doesn't want "drama" within his cabinet and staff, but Lincoln's experience suggests that he should expect precisely that. From the outset of his administration, Lincoln's secretary of state, William Seward, a former senator from New York, was assiduously scheming against his president. Where Lincoln saw civil war as inevitable, Seward was freelancing, calling for negotiations with the South and privately telling Confederates that their differences could be peacefully resolved.

Then there were Lincoln's problems with his generals. In 1862, despite Lincoln's pleading, Gen. George McClellan refused to attack the Confederates. When senators clamored for McClellan to be removed, Lincoln feebly replied, "Whom shall I put in command?" "Well anybody!" Sen. Benjamin Wade told Lincoln. "Well anybody will do for you," Lincoln said, "but not for me. I must have somebody!"

Only after much wasted time was McClellan finally dismissed. But from there, Lincoln had to contend with a procession of woefully unsatisfactory generals until he eventually found Ulysses S. Grant: He had to fire Ambrose Burnside, get rid of Joseph Hooker, and marginalize George Meade. Even at war's end, Lincoln was still struggling to forge consensus inside his administration. He outlined his vision for reincorporating the South into the Union, only to meet with fierce resistance from his own cabinet. In one revealing moment, the president sheepishly said, "You are all against me."

Another lesson from Lincoln is to blend clarity of purpose with steely pragmatism. It was Lincoln and Lincoln alone who had a mystical attachment to the Union, and he was willing to do almost anything to preserve it, even as the body count mounted and it became clear that the sacred struggle would be neither brief nor necessarily victorious. Checking out books from the Library of Congress, the president gave himself a crash course in military strategy, and day after day, year after year, dragged his tired body to the War Department to monitor the progress of Union armies in the field. He hectored his generals constantly to be on the offensive: "hold on with a bulldog grip and chew & choke," "stand firm," "hold . . . as with a chain of steel."

He was unfailingly pragmatic in his command of military strategy as well. Early in the war he made it a central tenet that the goal of Union generals should be the destruction of Confederate armies. But by 1864, when public support was waning, and it looked as though he might lose his bid for re-election, he allowed Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to unleash total war on the South -- a form of war that Robert E. Lee had adamantly rejected when his armies moved north through Maryland and Pennsylvania. Sherman ravaged Atlanta beyond recognition, sending innocent civilians fleeing the city. He then laid waste to a vast corridor stretching some 400 miles, culminating in the burning of Columbia, S.C. Said one Southerner who witnessed this cloud of destruction and plunder, "We are going to be wiped off the face of the earth." Sherman was unrepentant, and so was Lincoln.

But Lincoln was never vengeful. Once the tide of the war finally changed, he made sure that the looting and burning ended, particularly when Union armies made their way into North Carolina and Virginia. As Lincoln fatefully told one general, "I would let 'em up easy."

Perhaps more than anything else, President Obama should learn from Lincoln the importance of perseverance. The fact is that as late as 1864 -- well after the battle of Gettysburg, which in hindsight is often seen as the great turning point of the war -- the Union was still suffering frightful losses. In six weeks alone during the Wilderness Campaign, Lee inflicted some 52,000 casualties upon Grant's men, nearly as many soldiers as America would lose in the entire Vietnam War. The single battle of Cold Harbor was an unmitigated bloodbath; 7,000 men slaughtered in under an hour, most of them in the first eight minutes, more than the Confederates lost during Gen. George Pickett's infamous Gettysburg charge.

A stunned Lincoln declared that the "heavens are hung in black," and most of the North agreed. By then, some 200,000 troops had deserted the federal Army, and everywhere Lincoln turned there were fervent antiwar rallies. The influential journalist Horace Greeley wrote that "our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country longs for peace." The Democratic Party, headed by former Gen. McClellan, ran on a peace plank.

How easy it would have been at this juncture for Lincoln to give in or compromise, and history might well have celebrated his refusal to subject the North to the continuing blood and wreckage. But a gloomy Lincoln resisted the calls for Grant's head. Instead, when Grant marched his army across the James River in pursuit of Lee, refusing to retreat as so many other Union generals had done, Lincoln, with tears in his eyes, telegraphed Grant: "I begin to see it: You will succeed. God bless you. A. Lincoln."

Related to perseverance is the importance of rhetoric -- the words that inspire and articulate national ideals and deeds -- but Mr. Obama shouldn't expect instant results. Lincoln's first inaugural was a masterpiece of conciliation, but it did little to soothe antagonistic passions in the South or keep the Confederacy from seceding. The importance of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, another masterpiece, was almost wholly overlooked by much of the country. A mere 272 words, it was so short that only one fuzzy photograph of the occasion exists. And Lincoln's second inaugural, arguably the finest speech given in American history, was treated with contempt by most Southerners. In each case, only with the flow of time do we see how important these speeches are to the overall narrative of the American story. And only in retrospect did they more fully illuminate our path and stitch up our wounds.

Mr. Obama can also learn from Lincoln about the personal side of being president. If Lincoln was marked by one trait, it was humility -- and the fact that he was always himself. Resisting temptations to fit in with established Washington, Lincoln liked to say, "I presume you all know who I am, I am humble Abraham Lincoln." His self-derogation was real, and so was his simplicity: He referred to himself as "A," greeted visitors with "Howdy," and stuffed notes in his pockets and stuck bills in his drawers. Lincoln also knew the importance of diversions to help him weather the strains of war, frequently going to plays and comedies -- he often liked to say that he needed a "little laugh."

And finally, Lincoln knew that as president of the United States, he was the steward of the precious fabric of American democracy, and equally importantly that he was just one link, and a temporary one at that, in the chain of presidents elected to watch over it. As Carl Sandburg once remarked, there were 31 rooms in the White House, and Lincoln was not at home in any of them. He knew it was never really his house.

Mr. Obama, as improbable and eloquent a president as Lincoln, will almost surely come to feel the same.»

Accountability

Na América é assim: Timothy Geithner, o novo secretário do Tesouro, foi uma escolha forte para um dos cargos mais relevantes desta Administração. Os mercados aplaudiram e a bolsa, nesse dia, até subiu 6.5 por cento.

Mas, na América, o cumprimento estrito das obrigações de um cidadão é algo levado a sério. E Tim, para obter a confirmação do Senado, teve que explicar direitinho por que é que cometeu irregularidades na sua declaração fiscal quando estava no FMI. Vale a pena ver as desculpas humildes que ele apresentou -- era saudável que por cá também fosse assim...

quarta-feira, 21 de janeiro de 2009

Barack Obama, 'commander in chief'

Será um dos principais desafios do novo Presidente: recuperar o prestígio das missões militares americanas no Mundo.

Bill Clinton, o último Presidente democrata antes de Barack, teve uma relação muito difícil com os militares (tinha-se oposto à guerra do Vietname enquanto jovem e foi o primeiro Presidente em várias décadas que não tinha cumprido o serviço militar).

Obama está disposto a mudar a percepção de que um Presidente democrata não tem o Exército na mão e ontem fez já uma operação de charme num dos Bailes Presidenciais, em que estavam militares. Michelle passou os últimos meses a cultivar as relações com as mulheres americanas que têm militares em zonas de guerra. Veremos como evoluirá esta relação.

'Kennedy's Words, Obama's Challenge'


Um artigo de Richard Reeves, no New York Times

«It was an anxious time, the beginning of 1961. In the eight years before Jan. 20, 1961, the Soviet Union had tested a hydrogen bomb and had put in orbit the first satellite, Sputnik, which passed over the United States for months. Central Intelligence Agency analysts estimated the the Soviet economy was growing at a rate of between 6 percent and 10 percent a year, compared with the United States’ growth rate of between 2 percent and 3 percent. Unemployment in America was at 7 percent and the country had gone into recession early in 1960.

Now, this day, the youngest man and the first Catholic ever elected, 43-year-old John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, was to be inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States.

Kennedy had defeated Vice President Richard Nixon in one of the closest of national elections, but the country was united — by fear. For the first time since early in the 19th century, the United States mainland seemed vulnerable to foreign invasion. Nearly 20 new countries, most of the former colonies in Asia and Africa, joined the United Nations in 1960 and most of them were looking for guidance not to the Americans but to the Soviets.

“We’ve got to get this country moving again!” was the line Kennedy had used most often during his campaign.

So, it was not surprising that the new President would give an inaugural speech that was essentially a cold war battle cry. Only two words in Kennedy’s speech even touched on domestic affairs. Those words were “at home,” and they were added by Kennedy and his gifted speechwriter, Theodore Sorensen, at the very last minute.

The new president’s civil rights adviser, a young man named Harris Wofford, complained to Kennedy, pointing out that 24 hours before the inauguration, 23 Negro students had begun a sit-in at segregated lunch counters in Richmond, Va., the old capital of thre Confederacy, 100 miles south of the Capitol of the United States.

“Okay,” said Kennedy, who added the words so that one sentence declared that Americans were: “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed and to which we are committed to at home and around the world.”

The ceremony was in a city sparkling like a diamond. Eight inches of snow had fallen during the night and and the sky was perfect cold wintry blue. The temperature was 10 degrees below freezing. The young President made his first statement by not wearing an overcoat as he sat next to his 70-year old predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenower, who was bundled in a great coat, scarf and top hat.

“Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans … Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,support any friend,oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

The words rang, still do in television excerpts and classrooms. Kennedy was a man who knew that in his new job, words were often more important than deeds. Few people would remember whether he balanced the budget. Almost all Americans would remember his lines, particularly, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

The speech was bellicose and conciliatory at the same time:

“Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not a call to battle,though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out …”

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate …”

Paradoxically, one of Kennedy’s worries that day was that he would be overshadowed by another speaker, the poet Robert Frost. When Frost, who was 86, asked to speak, Kennedy’s first reaction was: “He’s a master of words I have to be sure he doesn’t upstage me …” The President-elect suggested he recite an old poem, but Frost insisted on writing a new one. The day’s sun and the wind made it impossible for the old man to handle his papers and, in the end, he did recite from memory an older poem titled “The Gift Outright.”

So, it was Kennedy’s day and Kennedy’s words that are remembered. Like the 44th president, Barack Obama, the 35th read and re-read the inaugural adresses of the 16th, Abraham Lincoln, who had said exactly 100 years before: “In your hands, my dissatisfied countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.”

Kennedy concluded: 'Let us begin. In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.'»

A Obamamania vista da Guiana*



* com os agradecimentos à nossa fiel leitora Maloud

Frase de Obama nos dez bailes presidenciais: 'LET'S CHANGE AMERICA!'

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: o sonho tornou-se realidade


Foi um Inaugural Day cheio de emoções, com um discurso notável de Barack Obama (que merecerá por aqui análise mais aprofundada nos próximos dias), momentos tocantes, a infelicidade dos senadores Ted Kennedy e Robert Byrd e, até, atrapalhações inesperadas no juramento do novo Presidente.

A América voltou a dar uma prova de incrível dinamismo e grandeza nos momentos verdadeiramente importantes.

O CASA BRANCA, que desde domingo à noite iniciou uma cobertura especial desta tomada de posse histórica, agradece aos seus leitores o facto de ter tido esta terça-feira, 20 de Janeiro de 2009, o seu melhor dia de sempre. O recorde de visitas diárias foi batido largamente (com um valor quatro vezes acima do anterior máximo).

Prometo continuar a acompanhar esta improvável viagem de Barack Hussein Obama -- esperemos que este estado de graça do novo Presidente (que exibe taxas de popularidade acima dos 80 por cento) se mantenha por muito tempo.

Será um bom sinal para todos nós.

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: os nomes da nova Administração americana

PRESIDENTE
Barack Hussein Obama, 47 anos

VICE-PRESIDENTE
Joseph Biden Jr., 66 anos

SECRETÁRIA DE ESTADO
Hillary Rodham Clinton, 62 anos

SECRETÁRIO DA DEFESA
Robert Gates, 66 anos

SECRETÁRIO DO TESOURO
Timothy Geithner, 47 anos

PROCURADOR-GERAL
Eric Holder, 57 anos

Outros cargos governamentais:
DIRECTOR DA CIA - Leon Panetta
COORDENADOR DAS AGÊNCIAS DE INTELIGÊNCIA - Dennis Blair
CONSELHEIRO PARA O TERRORISMO - John Brennan
EMBAIXADORA NA ONU - Susan Rice
DIRECTORA DO GABINETE DE DESEMPENHO - Nancy Killefer
SEGURANÇA INTERNA - Janet Napolitano
AGRICULTURA - Tom Vilsack
SAÚDE - Tom Daschle
TRABALHO - Hilda Sollis
INTERIOR - Ken Salazar
PLANEAMENTO URBANÍSTICO - Shaun Donovan
EDUCAÇÃO - Arne Duncan
AGÊNCIA DE SEGURANÇA INDUSTRIAL - Mary Schapiro
TRANSPORTES - Ray LaHood
ENERGIA - Steven Chu
CONSELHEIRO DE SEGURANÇA NACIONAL - Jim Jones
CONSELHEIRO NACIONAL DE ECONOMIA - Larry Summers
CHEFE DAS FORÇAS ARMADAS - David Petraeus
VETERANOS DE GUERRA - Eric Shinseki
CHEFE DE GABINETE - Rahm Emanuel
CONSELHEIRO POLÍTICO DO PRESIDENTE - David Axelrod
CHEFE DA IMPRENSA - Robert Gibbs
CONSELHEIRO PARA A RECUPERAÇÃO ECONÓMICA - Paul Volcker
DIRECTOR DO DEPARTAMENTO ORÇAMENTAL -- Peter Orszag
CHEFE DA EQUIPA DE CONSELHEIROS ECONÓMICOS - Christina Rohmer
REPRESENTANTE PARA OS NEGÓCIOS AMERICANOS - Ron Kirk
ADMINISTRADORA DOS INTERESSES LOCAIS - Karen Mills
CONSELHEIRA PARA A QUALIDADE AMBIENTAL - Nancy Sutly
COORDENADORA DA POLÍTICA ENERGÉTICA - Carol Browner
DIRECTORA DA AGÊNCIA DE PROTECÇÃO AMBIENTAL - Lisa Jackson

(como é óbvio, falta o secretário do Comércio: seria Bill Richardson, mas o governador do Novo México voltou atrás na aceitação, devido a uma investigação judicial que o atinge

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: a explicação para as fífias no juramento

Primeiro, foi Barack a antecipar-se no nome, depois foi o juiz John Roberts a daltar a palavra faithfully...

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: todos os passos de Barack no Dia 1, em 90 segundos

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: Joe, Jill, Barack, Michelle, Malia e Sasha chegam à Casa Branca

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: W. já voltou ao Texas -- podes ficar por lá, ok George?

terça-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2009

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: Foi aqui

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: 'Thank God for let me see this day'

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: momentos de um dia que entrou para a História

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: Ted Kennedy teve princípio de enfarte

Foi um dos apoios de peso para Obama nas primárias. E fez questão de discursar na Convenção, mesmo muito doente. No almoço de inauguração de Barack Obama, desmaiou e teve que ir ao hospital, com um princípio de enfarte. Ou a prova de que não há dias perfeitos.

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: o vídeo de um discurso magnífico

Pode ler o texto num post mais abaixo, mas é bem mais entusiasmante ouvi-lo. Será recordado como o discurso em que o novo Presidente desafiou os americanos a trocarem o medo pela esperança:

Parte 1


Parte 2

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: um momento histórico... apesar das palavras trocadas

Um juramento que será recordado durante décadas. O momento que selou a mundança. O juiz John Roberts não tinha a lição bem estudada, mas foi só um fait-divers num dia abençoado e soalheiro, em que tudo correu bem...

OBAMA PRESIDENTE: o discurso da tomada de posse

«Nesta nova era de responsabilidade, estamos preparados para liderar, uma vez mais»
BARACK OBAMA, durante o discurso de inauguração, perante 1.5 milhões de pessoas, a maior multidão alguma vez reunida num evento político em todo o Mundo


«My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.


Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the fainthearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path toward prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again, these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them -- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: Know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence -- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world ... that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back, nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.