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Was the Newtown Speech the Most Difficult to Deliver For President Barack Obama?


One day, when Barack Obama will no more be the President of the U.S., someone will venture to make a movie on his life. It will be almost impossible to find an actor willing to enact the President's role because the performance of the future actor will be measured against that of the President himself, who in real life was forced to live through the toughest of theatrical moments, like when he addressed the Newton School gathering after the massacre.

No actor, however capable, can bring out the agony of the president, who has to suppress his internal turmoil and present a different face to the nation for the sake of the position he is holding. No director can pull off visualisation of a complex surge of emotions of a whole nation behind a tragic event like that happened in Newtown, which the President was subjected to over and above his own turmoil.
There are moments when a president has to deliver inspiring speeches to convey his vision or unify the country against adversity. Then there are occasions no one wishes to face in life, when the President is expected to address the nation, to say something, to console, assure and somehow alleviate the collective burden on the nation's psyche. The Newtown School speech in the aftermath of the massacre of twenty innocent children and six of their teachers was one such testing moment for President Obama.
Though several tragedies have occurred during his presidency where he had to deliver consoling and supporting messages to the nation, the Newtown tragedy, coming right after a very divisive election in which he won against all odds, must have been very different and difficult for the president.
It is hard to understand, why Barrack Obama is seen as the first "black" President by many Americans and even by leading media though he was born to a white Caucasian lady. Though for the rest of the world this is a non issue, it is the perception. However, this must have been the most difficult aspect for President Obama, who had to face and address a town whose population and the bereaved they came to mourn are almost entirely white.
No one can deny that such was the ferocity and divisiveness of the politics which only just ended in his re-election, which many in the nation still do not accept, at least have great difficulty to reconcile. No one can deny that the second amendment, which the President could do little about and something which his audience hold sacred had to do with the tragedy.
That, President Obama, as a very loving parent of two children couldn't hold his tears while announcing the tragedy that occurred at Newtown as a national tragedy, didn't somehow alleviate his dilemma. Where trust was at best fragile, it must have been very difficult to find the right words to express and communicate something meaningful both to the community and to the nation at large.
The Newtown tragedy has occurred in the Christmas season, when everyone has to rejoice and not bereave, has rendered the event poignant beyond imagination. Mundane call of Presidential duties in the face of the Fiscal Cliff which he has very little time to sort out before the nation fall off it and the nomination of his future secretary of state must have been adding immense pressure to his working life. Yet the President was duty bound to come to the bereaved, and address and console as the supreme commander.
President Obama did come to Newtown, and delivered the most difficult speech of his presidency with amazing grace. With measured words delivered in a way only Barack Obama, the great communicator can do he somehow spoke, conveying the consolation and support of the Nation he took to Newtown and asking for the Nation's support and resolve to enable him for meaningful and effective action.
Without referring to the Second Amendment or NRA he brought home the need for controlling the ownership and accessibility of dangerous weapons. Without admonishing, he brought home the need for better parenting and teaching and loving children. In as few words as possible he reminded Americans about family values they all need to return to.

You handled this horrific situation with such honest sympathy & grace. You have done our nation (and yourself) proud during one of our darkest moments. I am proud to call you My President.

For astute students of communication, President Osama's skills in oratory will be always be a benchmark. His speeches will be heard, watched analysed and imitated for decades and centuries to come. But for true meaning and sense of his speeches, future learners will have to delve deep in to the contextual history and events as well.

Six Hallowed Indians Who Could be Lynched by a Billion of India's Poor if They Knew Simple Economics.


"They that have done this deed are honourable: What private griefs they have, alas, I know not, That made them do it: they are wise and honourable, And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you."

Though William Shakespeare, the greatest of English writers, used those words to define a bunch of Roman conspirators, he might have used them even today to expose an elite bunch of egoistic Indians, blind with self glorification.
Who are they? They are all honourable leaders of modern India who collectively brought down the Indian GDP growth from 9% to 5% in a couple of years, sabotaging any chance a billion of its poor had to come out of poverty and a miserable life. There are even Harvard educated among them, but the plight of the poor and down trodden was not their concern and the need for GDP growth was not their business.
The damage and the back stabbing they have collectively done to India is nothing short of the treachery and guile in the Shakespearian drama, because as highly educated they are, they can't pretend not to know the damage they have caused to the plight of a billion poor Indians who earn barely a dollar a day, in their own quest for glory.
These pretentious leaders, each one of them with a hidden agenda, pretend to uphold morality in life and politics and fight for it, in various forms, as if it is the only thing India needs. Disregarding the damage they will cause to the country's image and growth, they have latched on to every opportunity, every accusation of impropriety to obstruct the functioning of the government inside and outside the parliament, bringing total paralysis.
In a short span of two years they have managed to sabotage every attempt of the minority government of Dr Man Mohan Singh and all reform measures he has tried to bring to maintain the high growth trajectory his reforms and governance has brought for India.
On the top of this list of these self serving Indians who have appropriated morality for themselves is India's CAG, Vinod Rai, himself a Harvard educated government servant, who has dealt the first and heaviest of blows, with accusations of ludicrous amounts of loss to the government. Though the hollowness of his accusations have since been exposed by an auction and revelation by a subordinate, it too late as enormous damage has been done to investor confidence.
Arvind Kejriwal, the "Indian Romney" who claim that the direct disbursement of income benefit to the poorest people of India amounts to bribing, can claim a prominent position. Kejriwal, who shot himself to fame by training his guns on the popular Gandhian Anna Hazare to appropriate some popularity for himself has since been exposed by declaring his own political party, of all things to fight corruption, of course.
Mamta Banerjee, the main coalition partner of Dr Man Mohan Singh who has vetoed every one of his reform measures should be honoured as the Nero of modern India as she spends her time in art and writing poetry as India's GDP had been tumbling down the drain and her own state of West Bengal had been sinking more and more in to the Bay of Bengal with debt burden of over populist governance.
If the Indian parliament had been totally dysfunctional since the last election, the credit almost entirely is that of Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition, in title and action. Sushma Swaraj, who would like to be a future Prime Minister of India, has almost single headedly destroyed the biggest democracy in the world by instigating and leading sheer unruly and disgusting behaviour of elected representatives in parliament.
Dr Subramanian Swamy, an ex professor at Harverd must be credited with finding a life time occupation in filing cases against the Indian Government he can never win. But this doesn't preventSwamy in filing a new case every time he finds an old sheet of news paper with some ludicrous mention of corruption.
Dr Mulrali Manohar Joshi, a leader of the BJP has long since proven his penchant to erase and rewrite history when, as the Human resources Minister, he meddled with school text books, to remove and absolve the cold blooded assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, by Hindu fundamentalists. He has now been exposed as the main instigator of fictitious losses to the government by corrupt practices, which is no surprise at all.
There are of course a bigger list of supporters and collaborators, who the mob may search out on a second wave, for reprimand.
Fortunately, the Indian masses probably have never read Shakespeare, especially Julius Creaser. The chances are they will never ever grasp the importance of GDP or the rating agencies.
Article first published as Six Hallowed Indians Who Could be Lynched by a Billion of India's Poor if They Knew Simple Economics. on Technorati.

Six Reasons Why Barack Obama Could Be Another Three Term POTUS In the Making.


For those who believe in celestial interventions in affairs on the earth, there were indications of the re election of President Barack Obama and even a third term in office. But for mundane observers, a look at the events to the run up of the presidential election, its conduct and the post election realities raise the question whether Barack Obama will be the next three term president of the U.S. In fact most of the issuesObama is likely to address might need well over a decade to solve and for a determined President too difficult to give up before he achieve.


A taller President.
By achieving the impossible and winning the re election, Barack Obama has grown taller in stature virtually dwarfing almost everyone else, not just in the U.S. but on the world scene.
First, let's remember what Obama did in the first term: he passed the most substantial new element in the American safety net in generations, Obamacare. He helped pass a massive re-regulation of the financial sector, the Dodd-Frank bill. He passed the biggest stimulus package in our history, which I believe--Ezra Klein convinced me of this--prevented the worst economic depression in four generations. He did these things in the first two years, of course, when Democrats controlled Congress, but he did them. They were not chopped liver, whether or not you liked them. Q&As, Washington Post
However, everyone tends to forget the enormity of the unprecedented Post Lehman gloom and doom and impending recession Barack Obama was send out to put right. What is not clear, at least to the rest of the world not familiar with the U.S. politics is the equally massive obstruction he faced from a republican majority in the House.
Add to all of those the spectacular annihilation of the number one enemy of the U.S.A he promised and carried out, matching the incredulity of the 9/11 attack on the nation which has raised the credibility and image of the US and its President as a force not to be taken lightly.
In short the stature of the President has grown beyond that of any of the potential contenders for a long time to come. If President Obama decides to contest a third term, for which he may have plenty of reasons, there won't be many happy contenders.

Unique Bond of a Leader With His Social Web.


The truth is without the social web and its immense and electrifying power the mystery of Obama would never have happened. At least in such a short time. This special bond which shaped before the 2008 election, which owes to his youth and awareness of the potential of the social media to take his message to a young and savvy supporters will be stronger and forceful in imposing an obligation on himself to pursue the reforms and changing of the United States which he had undertaken but not quite finished. This is indeed the bond which has rendered Obama as the only a Super PAC slaying democrat. In fact, there is no leader in either party who can claim anything similar to this phenomenon which will end if Obama decides not to run for a third term. It is hard to see how the democrats will let that happen.

The Fiscal Deficit.
During the Democratic convention Bill Clinton asserted that one term is too short to remedy the fiscal damage created by the previous administration. But he didn't say two terms are sufficient. Even the president estimates a minimum of a decade, that too if he can get on with it unhindered. As it is, with a majority in the house, it is questionable how much he can achieve. But if the electorate can see reason and buy the president's argument to grant him a second term, they are very likely to go with him for a third if the going is good.

Will Hilary? Won't Hilary?
The big question for the next election is who the Democratic Party candidate is going to be. It is said that Hilary Clinton will be the first choice if she will contest. But if she is ready for it, she couldn't have stayed away from the campaign as she did, leaving Bill Clinton to let everyone second guess. If anything, Hilary has sent out the impression of an overworked diplomat who needs some rest and certainly not the sign of some one hungry for the power of the First Woman President of the U.S.A and ready to go for it. Hilary must know that at the age of seventy, putting up your feet is a lot more comfortable than the gruelling chair in the oval office.

Changing Demographics.
The demographic which gave the most support to the Republicans yesterday was elderly white people--not exactly the men and women of tomorrow. The age-group that gave Obama the most support was the young. White people supported Romney more than Obama; the country is becoming steadily less white. African-Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama. Latinos and Asian Americans are the fastest-growing categories of our population.Q&As, Washington Post
Much has been written about the demographic shift in the US electorate which has turned in favour of Obama on account of his policies and the indifference of the GOP. This shift which will widen in the next election will be another compulsion for a obliging and liberal president not to give up too soon.

Shrinking Election Cycle and The Number Crunchers.
If only it was actually 4 years - 2 years is more like it. With so many people making a living talking and writing about politics, we'll be starting the next election cycle in 2 years, max.Q&As, Washington Post
The impact of the social media, social web, and a huge number of people who have taken election related professions which consumed 2 Billion dollars in the recent election, the election cycle has been reduced to a perennial activity for analysts, strategists and others who predict the outcome. In a way, the next election cycle has already begun and an incumbent president becomes part of the cycle. President Obama has to weigh in if his next term will be enough, especially with the republican majority in the house and obvious absence of an able successor, to achieve his goals. Chances are he will see the need for a third term much like President Franklin Roosevelt before him.

For those willing to ponder, there could be any number of subtle signs of a prolonged Presidency of Barack Obama one can't ignore. After all it is not as hard as searching for a needle in the hay stack.

Should Obama Do an Invisible Bush Act at the DNC?

Despite the gloss over Ann Romney tried to give the historic improvisation of Clint Eastwood, who tried to address and insult an invisible Barack Obama who had no way of fefending himself, the Democrats will be eager to pull off something in return at the DNC.
Letting the GOP get away with a piece of stage drama to score a political point against them will be a political sin the democrats can't afford. They can't let the insult go away unpunished like the way the convention managed an important debilitating debate on abortion, which preceded it, to totally disappear from the agenda.
Though it may not be entirely in style for a sitting president, who has already declared that he is no way offended by the episode, to stoop to such silly political theatre, it actually gives Barack Obama a precious chance to defend his records by "Eastwooding" George Bush. After all, Bush, from whom he inherited the economic mess, was conspicuously absent from the RNC to evade having to defend his poor record which would definitely have hurt the claims of the GOP.
George Bush must have evaded the convention under pressure from the GOP, precisely not to remind anyone of his legacy or what the Republicans really did to the US economy in the eight years they were in power. In any case, George Bush couldn't have defended his record convincingly and might have ended up with embarrassing remarks, for which he has a solid record, which might have turned in to the high lights of the convention.
Though George Bush himself was on record about his decision to stay away from the convention, For the GOP itself, who is trying to win back the power in Washington, not being able to hold their ex president in front of the nation, as a guarantee of the rosy state of affairs they promise, is an indefensible weakness.
Whether the political managers of the Democratic Party can see this massive hole in the defence of the GOP and capitalise on it can make a real difference to the message they will transmit from Charlotte in the next few days.
Under normal circumstances any attempt by President Obama and his party to go back several years in history to defend their records would have been torn apart by the GOP as weak defence for incompetence. However, the GOP can no more complain about being unduly attacked if some one will do an "Eastwooding" on any of their leaders as they have publicly praised and justified what the Octogenarian Hollywood icon has enacted during the RNC.
But what will be the best way to delicately tap in to the enormous opportunity must be the thought which has kept the DNC managers sleepless for last week. Obviously a copy cat performance by another celebrity or any of the leaders will be deemed ridiculous and can easily backfire.
Their best bet is President himself, who has time and again proved his entertainer appeal, especially during the White House Correspondents Dinner Speech. Obama has proved not only that he can pull off effective jabs at his political opponents, but that he can do such things convincingly while unbelievably difficult situations like the operation Geronimo was being carried out under his command. President Obama no doubt is as much a theatrical performer as Clint Eastwood is.
It is hard to see that Barack Obama and his political managers will let such an opportunity go untapped. A rebuttal in some form or the other must be expected. It will certainly be one of the high points of the DNC.
In what form and way the president will deliver that will determine the political maturing of Barack Obama.
Article first published as Should Obama Speak to an Invisible George W. Bush at the DNC? on Technorati.

Will Harvard Boy Chidambaram Make India The Promised Land Again for American Business?




There are ways to test the worth of things. But the means of real tests are always harsh and bruising like the touchstone on which you rub your gold nugget to see if it is genuine. For Harvard, the proof of the pudding is when its alumni get roasted in the harshest ovens of real life business and come out shining.

Palaniyappan Chidambaram, an alumnus of Harvard, is about to prove his worth with another stint as India's Finance Minister. But in his case, his nemesis and his biggest distracter is also an ex professor of Harvard, Dr Subramanian Swamy.

The problem is that, to gain the confidence of foreign investors, Chidambaram has to find ways to arrest and reverse the powerful negative trend in India's growth which has ended up in a yawning gap in the nation's fiscal balance and high inflation, left behind by his predecessor and the new Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Perhaps this was also the main reason behind the decision of the UPA leadership to project Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate.

Moreover, since his last stint, despite the confidence of the political leadership he enjoys and repeatedly publicly proclaimed by the Prime Minister, Chidambaram is confronted with a variety of allegations from electoral tinkering to corruption.

While being the country's Finance Minister, Chidambaram has also to fight off extreme political attacks and damaging allegations of corruption, pending legal scrutiny in the courts, which Dr Swamy and the main opposition BJP are spearheading, making his task really daunting for any politician.

To be fair to Chidambaram, he has already been credited with some convincing reforms to India's archaic investment framework during his stint as the Finance Minister during the previous government of the United Progressive alliance of Sonia Gandhi.

Though Chidambaram had to leave the position in the Finance Ministry with an unfinished agenda in the wake of the 9/11 Mumbai Terror attack to take over the Home Ministry, at the behest of the party leadership, unfortunately, no one gives him the credit for stabilizing the country's governance and internal security with swift and decisive actions. Like everywhere good acts in politics have no rewards in India too.

However the impressive measures of modernisation and reforms he undertook as the finance minister is much recognised by the foreign and Indian business community.

In fact this is the main reason why the sentiment of foreign investors has been boosted raising the NIFTY a couple of hundred points since his elevation, from the beginning of the month, as the Finance Minister by the Prime Minister Dr Man Mohan Singh.

Though the political baggage he has to carry is making his task of putting the country's economy back on track extremely hard, his task is in fact not only important for India and its future but is vital for the survival of the UPA and its success in the elections to be held in 2014.

It is this imperative against which Chidambaram's mettle being tested which makes his actions and steps so vital to the world investors looking for successful business in India. It looks like the UPA leadership has realised that it is time for decisive action if the government has to expect another term after the next elections. This will certainly strengthen the hands of the new Finance Minister, giving hope to the investors in India and abroad.

However, a host of other issues from land reforms to mining and power generation which are outside of the Finance Minister's control also need to be sorted out on extremely high priority, which will decide Chidambaram's success in turning the economy around.

So far, it looks like Chidambaram has been successful in boosting the sentiments by quick and decisivemeasures and steps everyone has appreciated. Whether he will be able to carry through the political anarchy which modern India is turning in to through the so called civil society and anti corruption movement of Anna Hazare and others is a matter to see.

If what Harvard instilled in the Finance Minister by his education will stand him in his seemingly gargantuan tasks of being decisive and taking assertive actions in the face of furious opposition, the world famous university can really be proud.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Posted by Sreedhar Pillai

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