The Winning Team

by Dr. Wunmi Akintide

Believe it or not, I pride myself, as being long and experienced enough, in my study of Politics in this country, to stick out my neck this early in the game, and to make a prediction 4 months before the Election that we already have a winning team in John Kerry and John Edwards.

It is “de javu” all over again, as history is about to repeat itself, like it did, when another John had picked another son of John (Johnson) as a running mate to produce a stunner in American political history, when the youngest American and probably the first Catholic to ever seek the Presidency of the world was elected by Americans, in what I would call a horse race of an election in 1960. I see a lot of similarities between 1960 and now, minus the War on Terror led by a six feet two inches tall enigma on dialysis, from Saudi Arabia of all places. The similarities are very profound, and only in America are such things common place.

Richard Nixon fondly remembered as “tricky Dicky” for his persona and politics and ability to lay ambush for opponents, and to pull a fast one on them, at any moment, have a few things in common with George Bush the Second, even though he would prefer to be compared with a Ronald Reagan, which he is not, if the truth must be told. John Kerry also has a few things in common with JFK quite apart from his first name, his Catholicism, his patrician background, and the fact that he also comes from Massachusetts, not to talk of his Ivy league education from Yale. The first John had his own from Harvard. Above all, John Kerry and JFK were both accomplished war heroes in their own right, and liberal politicians who use their liberalism, to always help the underdog, and to lift up America as that shinning city on the hill that the whole world, including America’s greatest rival, Russia, have now come to accept and recognize as the very leader of the free world by consensus and acclamation. By the same token, I see some striking similarities between, LBJ as a running mate to JFK and John Edwards as a running mate for John Kerry. LBJ and Edwards are both consummate politicians and vote getters in the South, even though LBJ had been in Congress longer than Edwards and clearly had name recognition when he was picked by JFK. But what John Edwards may have lacked in name recognition and political chutzpah, connection and vision, he has made up for, by his training and qualifications as a first class, youthful trial lawyer and a defender of the common man.

I might also add that Edwards has also got the charm and the charisma of a JFK in his looks and inclination to always stand up for the underprivileged in this society. He has come from a very humble background and parentage, like much of America, as a son of a sharecropper, but has fought his way to the top by becoming a multi millionaire in his own right through very legitimate means. He is surely going to remind voters across America, and in all the polling booths, that they may well be getting a reincarnation of JFK in Edwards all over again, when in 4 or 8 years as Vice President, he should have become a force to reckon with for the presidency in 2012, if his appeal does not wane after becoming VP, and if John Kerry’s record in office does not fall below expectation, just like George Bush’s disastrous foreign policy and preemptive strike posturing, as an eaglet in World Politics, are, surely, going to send him back to Crawford, Texas, like his own father, this November, unless a miracle occurs, Osama Bin Laden is captured or killed between now and November, and the quagmire and the constant shedding of American blood in Iraq and elsewhere is finally brought under control which is not a realistic expectation as we speak, from all we know.

I want to let you know, up front, that if this election were taking place in my own country, Nigeria, I won’t be making this prediction or analysis, because our own political situation in Nigeria nearly always defies logic and common sense. The best candidate or team never wins in Nigeria, because Nigeria is a nation walking on her head. In 1959 Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo would clearly have been the best winning team to move the country forward. The mere mention of that possibility never reached the drawing board, talk less of actually voting for them. In the end, it was one humble teacher from Bauchi that had ended up becoming Prime Minister, while Azikiwe had settled for a ceremonial, good for nothing title of a Governor-general, while Awolowo had to settle for Leader of Opposition in the Federal. It took only seven years for our ship of state to capsize into the high seas of confusion and helplessness, when the young Majors led by Chukwuma Nzeogwu had led the first coup in Nigeria on January 15, 1966. It was the beginning of the end for our country where we normally take two steps forward and four steps backward in our political history till tomorrow Let me stop here as this article is all about the next General Election in America, and not so much on Nigeria, but I cannot help but always have my own country at the back of my mind, as I look at the enigma of a country called America, and how in just over 200 hundred years of Independence, she is today the Leader of the free world without any question. I lie to you, if I tell you I am not amazed about America and its astronomical progress as a nation, when all is said and done.

I don’t know about you, I think America is an amazing country which has moved from being a colony to becoming a colonizer of the same country that had colonized her. The last time I saw part of the last symbol of the old British Empire was when Prince Charles had come to represent Her Majesty the Queen, at the Ronald Reagan’s State burial in Washington, DC. I listened very carefully to President George Bush follow protocol, in acknowledging all of the dignitaries present at the high society Church service including Heads of State and Governments and ambassadors from so many countries. The only title I did not hear the President mention in the preamble to his powerful eulogy, is that of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales and the next Heir to the throne who was sitting right there, in the front row, within ear shot of the President words. As an anglophile, who has lived and studied for sometime in the United Kingdom, and as a good student of International Relations, I found that to be a little bit awkward, but profoundly significant. Why? Because America, we are all celebrating today, was, once upon a time, a colony of Great Britain like Nigeria. Can you imagine our own Obasanjo or any other Head of State around the world forgetting to acknowledge the presence of Prince Charles That would have been big news. President Bush had committed that protocol blunder and he is the only one who could have done so without Her Majesty‘s Government raising a red flag, trust me.

There has been a powerful role reversal between the United States and Great Britain, so much so that the current British Prime Minister was once correctly referred to as George Bush’s lap dog or poodle. America leads the world, and she has got what it takes to do so. I take off my hat for America and more importantly for American voters who always refuse to be fooled by politicians the same way my people, regrettably do, back home in Nigeria. As observed by one of the best surviving politicians of our generation, the one and only William Jefferson Clinton, the American voters almost always get it right, after all is said and done. They clearly got it right in 2000. Regardless of all the hoopla and brouhaha that followed that election, the final tally of the votes nationwide had given Al Gore a victory of more than half a million votes over George Bush. It was the supreme court in a 5 to 4 decision that had finally refused to have the Florida vote recounted, and by so doing, had given the Electoral College majority by only 4 votes to make George Bush the President, using the American Constitution as their authority.

I submit here that George Bush had started committing blunders, when he started governing the nation as if he had won the mandate of the people by a landslide. He had won by the narrowest of margins in the Electoral College tally. The country was heavily divided then, as it is now, and that is one good reason why George Bush should not, and will not be reelected in November. He had promised to be a “uniter.” He has ended up, making himself a profound “divider,” as the polls are showing everywhere. He came to office assuring the Nation, his Government would be free of scandals unlike that of Bill Clinton. Today the list of scandals under Emperor Bush are as long as the Mississippi. We all hear of the Enron Scandal, the Halliburton scandal involving his Vice President, the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal, and the Ambassador Wilson scandal where the name and identity of his wife, as an undercover agent, was leaked to the press and the public and the implication of that to Intelligence gathering by the CIA and FBI around the world. There is also the scandal of rushing to war under false pretenses and finally the scandal of telling the United Nations to step aside, if they cannot enforce their own rules and his arrogant and very insensitive declaration to the whole world that “you are either with America or against America”.

One of the world’s greatest leaders and statesmen of all time, Madiba Nelson Mandela did speak for the whole world when he expressed the revulsion of the world to that arrogance and inexperience of George Bush, when he openly lambasted him as a dangerous world leader. I don’t know who else could have said it better than Mandela who has become the very conscience of the world because of the tragedy he has endured in liberating South Africa from Apartheid. It was a powerful statement that the rest of the world seemed to have bought hook, line and sinker. Jacque Chirac, the French President and another powerful force in the world today, had said it best when, at the last meeting of NATO he openly told George Bush to chill out of Europe business, and that “the rest of the world are friends and allies to America, and that George Bush is wrong to want to treat them as slaves” To me, it does not get any better or any clearer than that. George Bush is fast becoming an embarrassment to the United States global interest and image as a world leader because of the blunders of George Bush. We, as Americans could say all we want about Jacque Chirac, till we turn blue in the face, he, sure, told the truth that the voters would not forget when they go into that polling booth in November. We all want America to succeed, but America cannot succeed and continue to lead and expect the rest of the world to just follow us, if America is not going to change the Bush policies using the democratic process to do it in a fair and free election. I say so because the third world is not the only countries guilty of election rigging. We saw a little bit of that in Florida in 2000, and we must never again allow a reoccurrence because the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

That is not all. The most important development in this election circle, is the emergence of John and John as a force to send George Bush packing in November. I recall here the statement made again by Bill Clinton that the first most important test that John Kerry faces in this election is picking a running mate out of a legion of very qualified candidates across the country. The choice of John Edwards clearly gives John Kerry an A grade in my judgment, as revealed by opinion polls and pundits from coast to coast and from sea to shining sea. It is on to victory from here on, because the choice has taken the country back to 1960 all over again. I cannot see how George Bush can be seen or trusted as the man to bail America out of the morass and the cul-de-sac he has led America to, in four years of trial and error, where he likes to take the credit, when the going is good, but blames CIA or FBI or some individuals, but never himself, when things are not going so well like we see in the quagmire in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and much of the Middle East, and more importantly with the Intelligence community. We need a president like Harry Truman who was willing to hold himself accountable. It intelligence gathering is weak, the nation cannot be strong. America may have the best arsenals in the world, without good intelligence and a reservoir of good will from the rest of the world, she cannot win or succeed in this age of globalization. That is the central message of John and John, and that is the verdict of the world. But the Republicans are probably too deaf and brain dead to hear it.

As the nation get to know the new team in the block, they are going to like what they see, more and more. John Kerry is a rock solid war hero with all the medals the nation could bestow on a foot soldier. He has what it takes to lead the nation at this time because he, sure, has a lot more experience than George Bush could boast of, in 2000 when he became President. It’s all nonsense for George Bush to run around telling the nation, he is the only steady hand who can lead a nation of 284 million people at a time like this. I reject that notion and I am sure American voters are not fooled either. That is why, I instinctively, know we have a winning team in November, and that team is John and John. The simple question John and John should be asking as they crisscross the country is “whether or not America is better off today, than she was, four years ago like Ronald Reagan used to ask Jimmy Carter” The huge surplus that Bill Clinton had left at the treasury had gone back to red ink again with nothing to show for it. Four years ago America did not have to live under the fear it could be attacked from abroad, as much as she does now. That was because Bill Clinton had genuinely and seriously kept the warring factions in the Middle East talking, giving them some hope, and keeping them away from desperation which is one of the major factors fueling terrorism all over the world today. George Bush did not accord the problem as much priority when he first came to office, making radicals believe he was probably too pro the State of Israel and had wanted Christianity to dominate or suppress Islam around the world. George Bush clearly gave room for that, and should not have done so as President. He woke up to the problem too late.

That myth that America was safe from foreign attack, had been shattered by the simultaneous attack on the world Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the planned attack on the White House and the Capitol under George Bush’s watch. The Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans are no longer large enough to protect America. That the attack ever succeeded in the scale it did, is a permanent blemish on the record of George Bush as President. All the talk of Homeland Security does not wash away that stain, it only minimizes it a little bit. Very few Americans feel free to go on vacation today any where in the world where Al Qaeda may have sympathizers unknown to America, not to talk of the Middle East. If you own a car today, and you owned a one in 2000, you know how much is coming out of your pocket today for gas and maintenance. In 2000 when Bill was leaving office, Israel was very close to signing a peace accord with the Palestinians. The constant state of war is the “fons et origo” of the problems in the Middle East and the chief cause of Terrorism around the world. The removal of Saddam Hussein from office, while it may be good at one level, has done more harm than good to the peace of the world, and to the image of America as the “primus inter pares” among the free nations of the world.

In 2000 and before then the world had no problems with America’s emergence as the only super power, but today, some nations are openly regretting that we no longer have the moribund Soviet Union as a counter force to America when they are driven to the wall because of America‘s excesses. Therefore, that awareness has profoundly altered the balance of power and the image of the United Nations as a force to check the excesses of America. But George Bush, out of inexperience, is regrettably telling the world, he does not reckon with the UN, until the quagmire in Iraq and the Middle East and all around the world, had now forced him to swallow his pride and to go back to what John Kerry has been urging and preaching now for more than two years without acknowledging the turn around, because he is too proud to admit he ever makes any mistake. Even Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, two of the best presidents of this and the last century, never claimed they were perfect. I am personally scared of a President who finds it difficult to say he is sorry for anything, and uses God’s name as justification for his blunders in much the same way like Osama Bin Laden and his cohorts do, all the time, when they unleash terror against the world, all in the name of God. Mixing Politics with Religion like Bush is doing with his policies, is just too dangerous, a proposition for any world leader like Bush to contemplate. That is the problem that would never make Nigeria a nation like America. John and John understands that hypothesis and want to keep away politics from Religion as demanded by the founding fathers. That is why they are going to win and win convincingly.

George Bush, for all his charm and appeal to his conservative base, has had his chance. He could not have been luckier when he won in 2000 by not winning and he became the 43rd President of the United States by fluke, as they say in a Billiard game. The American system is so perfected and self adjusting, that who ever is elected President, even for one day, has got to have something going for him that the rest of us may never realize or appreciate. That is the beauty of the American system. of Government. I give George Bush credit for making it to the presidency by all means. He, sure has some good qualities, otherwise he would not have emerged as a candidate, to begin with. But he does not deserve to be reelected because his policies have, by and large, been very disastrous for America and the world. He must therefore allow new brooms to come in to correct his mistakes before he damages the country any more than he has already done. The whole world has got a stake in America as the Leader of the Free World. Whoever becomes president in America, whether he comes from Hope, Arkansas, Crawford, Texas or Poughkeepsie, New York, is the world’s president. We all reserve the right to have a say in whether or not he stays or goes, and our collective verdict is that, it is time for Bush and Cheney to go, and it is time for John and John to restore America back to the status quo ante bellum, and its preeminent position and clout around the world. Only the new team around the block can lead America to the promised Land. Hail to President Kerry, and God Bless America.

I rest my case.

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