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US presidential election

A symbol of change ... but can he deliver?

Article published on the 2008-11-05 Latest update 2008-11-06 10:05 TU

Obama supporters cheer his victory speech(Photo: Reuters)

Obama supporters cheer his victory speech
(Photo: Reuters)

"It’s been a long time coming," Obama told his supporters, slipping a reference to soul singer Sam Cooke into his victory speech, " but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, in this defining moment, change has come to America." The president-elect inherits economic crisis and unpopular foreign policies. So can Obama deliver?

Obama is "a good speaker and a great promiser," says British economist Roger Alford. "The question is, will he be a great deliverer?"

The President-elect inherits an economy slipping into recession and a world financial crisis which started in the US. But Alford believes that the advice he receives on how to tackle these challenges will not be radically different to that given to outgoing President George Bush.

Within a few days the US will play host to an international summit on the financial crisis.

"I would guess this is where a new world regime for bank regulation, financial institutions regulation, will be high up the agenda," says Alford but he counsels against too radical action.

"What you really want to do is to go back 20, 30, 40 years when banks were more sober and where life was a bit simpler … that lending is sensible, it’s for people who are likely to repay the loans, that general principles of banking, of financial soundness, are followed and made clear, made public, and that the information is out there to make sure that they are followed."

Analysis: Roger Alford, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics

05/11/2008 by Brent Gregston

To his ecstatic supporters, Obama is a symbol, says US political analyst Bruce Cain.

But he predicts disappointment. 

"They will not be as happy two years from now," he told RFI. "For the moment they are enjoying the victory. The problem is that the victory is more about healing the racial divide, about picking someone who is from a different generation, generation X as opposed to a boomer who is talking the talk of getting beyond the old vision."

Cain says that Obama's "progressist" agenda is what used to be called liberalism - and with ambitious aims.

"It’s trying to move the marginal tax rate from 35 back to 39 per cent. It’s trying to make sure that people do have some sort of retirement programme, because a lot of people have lost their retirement programme. It’s trying to make sure that people have health care which increasingly large numbers of young Americans, in particular, don’t have."

Analysis: Bruce Cain, political analyst and director of the University of California Washington Center

05/11/2008 by Brent Gregston


How significant is Obama's election for African-Americans? US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Obama "inspirational" on Wednesday.

"As an African-American, I'm especially proud because this is a country that has been through a long journey in terms of overcoming wrongs and making race not the factor in our lives," she said.

Academic David Dent sees it a bit differently.“Obama calls it the post-racial African-American community," he says.

"I think it’s more of actually black rationalist, or more of a black pragmatic perspective that realises that we’re not at a post-racial moment in our culture but at the same time they understand that there are certain skill-sets that you need to negotiate in an integrated society," said Dent, a professor at New York University who is author of In search of black America

"At some level Barack Obama symbolises that in terms of his success," he concludes.

Overview: Race and the election

05/11/2008 by Rosslyn Hyams