America has a new President today.Barack Obama was sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States of America at noon on the 20 the of January 2009. Millions of people witnessed one of the most anticipated inaugurations ever.
After what felt like a global presidential campaign and a world election, Obama will today spend his first day as the leader of the free world. After little sleep but lots of post-inauguration magic still in the air, his plans are a scheduled prayer, diplomacy, war discussions and welcoming hundreds of visitors to the White House.
It was not long ago that the John McCain campaign broadcast an advertisement comparing this black man to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
“It’s beyond dispute that he has become the biggest celebrity in the world. But do the American people really want to elect the biggest celebrity in the world?” a campaign strategist asked. The McCain team tried to push their leader as a global leader and not a global celebrity.
They were hoping that Americans would not vote for a man for his spectacular smile but that they would choose a 70-year old man who the Republicans believed had the insight and leadership abilities the country needs. Well, the American people did vote for their rock-star President. He may not wear the dark glasses, the earrings, and play the drums, but he certainly has star quality.
For a while Obama tried to argue with this celebrity tag and didn’t appear much in public with stars. But this weekend he looked perfectly at home at the star-studded inaugural events. A string of actors and old-school musicians including Bruce Springsteen, U2, Beyonce and Stevie Wonder, were invited to be part of the mega HBO production where they spoke eloquently in support of this man and the work he hopes to achieve. Sitting next to his beautiful family, Obama nodded his head to some of the now-classic American songs and even sang along to some others.
Obama won’t be the first leader with star qualities. John F Kennedy was a handsome man with a glamorous wife. Bill Clinton, also good looking, charmed and knew how to work a room. But with a smart campaign team and the ubiquitous and instant online communications as they are today Obama, and his message of hope, managed to reach more people than any other leader has before.
He is a man with phenomenal political, organisational and oratory skills. Some of these skills were evident on Monday night when at a dinner honouring John McCain in an eloquent speech he said “We can imagine that the pettiness and bitterness and immaturity that often pervades our politics seems even more unworthy of our country from this perspective; that the incessant bickering and partisanship for the sake of scoring a few political points seems even smaller.
And what seems bigger and more worthy of defending are those ideals we hold in common as Americans:liberty, equality, and opportunity.”
Barack Hussein Obama has certainly piqued the interest of the global media. He is most definitely a household name. But a media tart he is not. This is a man who is thoughtful, respectful and intelligent. He has ‘superstar’ status not only because he is well-known, handsome and charming, but because he is smart and will give America a chance to renew itself. This is a chance the country desperately needs right now.