Continued frustration with the choices in this year’s presidential election.
Tag: Hillary Clinton
A federal judge’s recent decision on behalf of a South Asian woman illuminates the scourge of human trafficking in America: an untold number of domestic workers are toiling here under slave conditions.
Bill Richardson may not have been appointed secretary of state, but his remarks in Spanish after a brief and ceremonial thank you in English left no doubt that he had in mind a bigger role for himself in the Obama Administration: that of “Latino in Chief.”
“To our Latino community, thank you for your votes. Like he (President-elect Barack Obama) told us, ‘Yes, we can’, and our vote has been our voice,” he said in his very Mexican Spanish. “To the millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean, we have to strengthen the ties that bind us and remember the importance of a united continent.”
[Watch Richardson’s remarks here:]
Those are lofty words for somebody who is supposedly only going to deal with issues of commerce, and not diplomatic relations. But his comments made some believe that he sees himself as a link between Obama — who is said to have limited relations with Latino leaders outside of Illinois — and Latinos everywhere. (more…)
A new sense of the challenges that lie ahead for Sen. Barack Obama seems to be settling in among ethnic media reporters covering the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. On Monday, just as convention delegates were starting to buzz with excitement over Michelle Obama’s scheduled prime time TV speech, reporters and columnists who work for ethnic newspapers from across the country were discovering a shared hesitancy about Obama’s candidacy in the communities they cover.
“The Barack Obama campaign started late to try to reach out to Latinos,” said Pilar Marrero, a reporter and columnist for La Opinion in Los Angeles and a Feet in Two Worlds reporter “They basically gave up the Latino vote in the primaries to Hillary Clinton…and there’s a struggle now.”
Speaking at a forum on Deconstructing the Ethnic Vote, organized by Feet in Two Worlds and the New York Community Media Alliance, Marrero said, “polls show that Latinos are thinking of voting for Obama, they’re obviously thinking about voting Democratic.” But she cautioned that enthusiasm about Obama’s candidacy is not necessarily the main motivator for many Latinos. “After a couple of electoral seasons when a specific number of Latinos went to the Republican Party – up to 40 per cent of Latinos voted for George Bush in 2004 – they are going back to the Democratic Party because they don’t like the way things are going in the country. They don’t like the immigration rhetoric, they don’t like the economy, they don’t like the war.”
Noting the overwhelming Latino support that gave Hillary Clinton a critical edge in her primary victories over Obama in Texas, California and other states, Marrero said Obama has yet to match Clinton’s popularity. “The level of support that Obama has among Latinos is still not high enough,” she said.
The challenges facing Obama among Chinese American voters are even more stark, according to Lotus Chau, Senior Reporter at Sing Tao Daily in New York. Chinese voters, “think Obama is too young, he doesn’t understand the US-Chinese relationship, and he really doesn’t understand China’s issues,” Chau said. After it became clear that Obama would be the Democratic nominee, many Chinese voters who had been enthusiastic supporters of Hillary Clinton, “switched their votes to McCain,” according to Chau.
Lotus Chau of Sing Tao Daily speaking with John Rudolph. Jehangir Khattack, a freelance Pakistani journalist, looks on. Their conversation was broadcast on KGNU, independent community radio in Boulder and Denver, Colorado.
But Chau said Chinese American voters are curious about Obama. And she noted that the Obama campaign recently took steps to reach out to Asian voters including the launch of a bilingual Web site aimed at Asian Americans. “But it’s a little bit late,” Chau said, “because it just happened recently.”
Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid casts a shadow over Obama’s campaign in a number of immigrant and ethnic communities, even among African Americans. “There really is a reason why (during the primaries) the super delegates and many influential black people lined up behind Hillary,” said Raymond Dean Jones, a columnist for the Denver Urban Spectrum, a newspaper that serves people of color in the Denver area. “There was something so different about Obama that people needed to be convinced (that he was united) with the black community in America.”
Jones, who is a member of the Denver Mayor’s African American Advisory Commission, believes that black voters’ doubts about Obama during the primary season have faded as he moves into the fall campaign. Jones also points out that African Americans are very proud of Obama’s political achievements and his intelligence. Even so Jones argues Obama’s personal history – as the son of a white American mother and an African father – is an issue with some black voters. “The truth is, this is a different guy. And he’s different in many ways because he’s not like African Americans are, and people know that.”
Parts of Obama’s biography that give pause to some blacks may actually help him with Latinos, according to Pilar Marrero. “Some (Latinos) think that he’s an immigrant, but they confuse him with his father,” she observed. “And that’s good because that makes him understand the immigrant experience.” But when it comes to the question of which candidate best understands Latino voters’ concerns, Marrero believes Obama faces tough competition from Sen. John McCain . Even though, she acknowledged that, “the Republican brand is damaged among Latinos,” Marrero said “McCain’s been around, he’s pushed immigration reform. It’s really an advantage that he has.”
Unity was the political headline coming out of Friday’s news cycle, after Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared side by side, in color-coordinated outfits, to put aside their 16-month internecine battle for the Democratic party’s nomination and show (dare we say) a united front at a 3,000 person rally in the aptly named town of Unity, New Hampshire
Press reports gushed over how Obama’s tie matched Clinton’s pantsuit, pondered their lack of a full hug, and pounced on the chance to show discord through a group of Clinton supporters, one of whom stuffed tissues in her ears as Obama spoke.
But the attempts to show solidarity went far past Clinton’s and Obama’s carefully choreographed display in the Granite State.
Preceding the Unity rally on Friday, Clinton spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in Washington, DC on Thursday and asked some of her most enthusiastic supporters to back Obama in the general election. She told the crowd that if Sen. John McCain won the presidency little would be done to advance the Latino agenda on immigration reform and the country would see, “four more years of the same.”
Clinton was greeted with a standing ovation. NALEO’s president Adolfo Carrión, the Bronx Borough President, referred to her as “nuestra hermana” – our sister. Hispanic supporters of Clinton say that her backing of Obama will be instrumental in winning the group’s support in November. During the primaries, Latinos backed Clinton 2 to 1 over Obama.
Obama also tried to show that unity was a natural next step for Latinos who had supported Clinton. In his speech at the NALEO convention on Saturday, he stressed that Blacks and Latinos have a shared history in the struggle for equal rights. “We marched together in the streets of Chicago to fix our broken immigration system,” he said to the applauding crowd. “And it’s because of that 20-year record of partnership with your communities that you can trust me when I say that I’ll be your partner in the White House and I will be your champion in the White House. And that’s what you need now more than ever,” Obama continued. “Because for eight long years, Washington hasn’t been working for ordinary Americans. And few have been hit harder than Latinos and African Americans.”
Democrats aren’t the only ones trying to build bridges after messy political battles. Sen. John McCain spoke to the NALEO convention on Saturday, promising to pursue comprehensive immigration reform within his first 100 days in office and to reach out to a community that became alienated from the Republican party after Congress’ failed attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform last year.
McCain was on of the chief authors of the failed bill. He now must fend off attacks from Obama, that attempt to stoke doubts that McCain and the Republican Party cannot be trusted to follow through on the immigration issue.
Obama, who took the stage after McCain at Saturday’s convention told the crowd: “[McCain] deserves great credit as a champion of comprehensive reform. I admire him for it, I know that he talked about that when he just spoke before you, but what he didn’t mention is that when he was running for his party’s nomination, he walked away from that commitment. He said that he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote. If we are going to solve the challenges we face, we can’t vacillate, we can’t shift depending on our politics. You need a president who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out in a consistent way, and that is my commitment to you.”
The attacks come at a time when Latino support for McCain is sagging. A recent AP-Yahoo poll showed that Obama’s lead among Latinos was 47 to 22 over McCain, with 26 percent undecided.
McCain’s attempts to regain ground on the immigration issue and rebuild ties with the Hispanic community has not gone unnoticed A headline in the Los Angeles Spanish-language daily La Opinion from early last week put it this way “McCain regresa al centro en inmigración.” – McCain returns to the center on immigration.
Saturday’s speech was just the beginning of an intensified effort by McCain to regain ground with Latino voters.. From July 1st to the 3rd, McCain will visit Colombia and Mexico to stress the ties the United States has with Latin America and focus on the shared security and economic concerns.
Unity – or unidad- it seems, might just rival ‘Change’ as a theme in this year’s election.
America on Road to Verdict – A Split One
(This article was originally written for Defence Journal)
By Jehangir Khattak
Pakistan has frequently been mentioned by almost all the candidates from both sides of the political divide. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s name has never been mentioned in a manner that would make most Pakistanis proud. The candidates cite the example of Pakistan while discussing the rising threat of religious extremism in different parts of the world. The candidates’ strong rhetoric in their plans to “deal” with Pakistan has attracted at times pretty strong reaction from Pakistan’s Foreign Office. While politicians like Mike Huckabee lack international vision, their foreign policy outlook remains a guessing game. And whenever they spoke on international issues, those were nothing short of gaffes.
The assassination of Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, on December 27, 2007, was the first major incident that evoked response from all the presidential candidates. The candidates’ varying responses exposed their command on foreign policy. So striking were these responses that top American dailies like The Washington Post wrote a special editorial on them under the caption “The Pakistan Test.” These reactions not only demonstrated the candidates’ understanding or otherwise of international issues, but also their ability to handle them. The astonishingly naïve reaction came from none else but Mike Huckabee who wanted a crackdown on illegal immigrants from Pakistan in the United States following BB’s assassination. His unimaginative approach did not end here. He, in the course of his comments, tried to make his audience believe that Pakistan is still under martial law.
Equally disappointing was Senator Barak Obama who has so far treaded a tough line on Pakistan. Obama has time and again expressed his resolve to hit terrorist targets, if any, on Pakistani soil without seeking Islamabad’s permission. Obama’s somewhat unilateralist approach towards Pakistan is in virtual contrast to his international outlook which advocates more inclusiveness and greater openness. Unlike the current Republican administration’s policy of not negotiating with its foes, Obama is promising talks with countries like Iran. In Pakistan’s case, Obama, who is promising change in Washington, is propagating something that would maintain status quo in the American line of thinking. Former Director George Tenet, in his latest book At the Center of the Storm, best explains this thinking. He says, “…we must not fall prey to typical American impatience and rush into ‘solutions’ that only make matters worse.” The Illinois Senator’s assertions on Pakistan have disappointed and even antagonized many of his Pakistani-American admirers.