Archive for the 'U.S. election' Category

May 10 2009

Expert-Seminar on May 27: Special Invitation

On the day after the Friedensgespräch on American foreign policy under Barack Obama, a very special opportuity awaits students of Osnabrück University. The two experts invited for the Friedensgespräch have made some extra time for a special seminar on the relations between Europe and America on Wednesday morning. This will be an outstandig opportunity (not only) for students of English and American Studies to get a first-hand impression of this field and to discuss their questions with two renowned experts. Don’t miss this great chance!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009, 10-12
15/130 (EW)

Please also take a moment to read the official invitation: Continue Reading »

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May 09 2009

'Yes We Can!' – Friedensgespräch on May 26

The Friedesgespräch on May 26 has a very interesting topic closely connected to American Studies: it deals with the new American foreign policy after Barack Obama took office and tries to answer the question ‘Yes, we can! – Weltpolitische Neuorientierung der Weltmacht USA?‘. Two renowned experts in the field will be in Osnabrück for this discussion: Dr. Jackson Janes, Director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies in Washington DC, and Karsten Voigt, the coordinator of German-American relations for the German government.
This Friedensgespräch should not be missed! Check it out on Tuesday, May 26 2009, at 7pm in the Aula der Universität, Neuer Graben / Schloss.

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May 05 2009

The First 100 Days Are Over

100 days of Barack Obama in the Oval Office are over. But not any 100 days, the first; these are traditionally regarded as a period of grace for any new politician and are also thought to set the tone for the coming presidency. Mr. Obama took office on January 20, 2009 and has been working in the White House since. What changed so far? Is he really able to deliver the change that he promised so often during the campaign and that meant to many different things to different people? Was he successful in helping the American economy? These are the kind of questions that the media posses in these days. Mr. Obama himself flew into the American heartland, to Missouri, for his official recapitulation of his first 100 days (transcript here):

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Take a look at a New York Times “Then and Now” comparison of the first 100 days, a Guardian comment and a Guardian article looking back on the past 100 days of the Obama presidency.

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Mar 07 2009

Obama "Speaking in Tounges"

“Aren’t there by now enough articles on Obama’s rhetoric, the way he uses language and his politics on this blog?” you might wonder. Well… the answer is no – at least this one is clearly missing. It’s missing, because in her very rich paper “Speaking in Tounges“, British novilist Zadie Smith takes a very different approach to looking at the new President’s rhetoric than any of the articles so far. She takes a writer’s perspective, draws parallels to Shakespeare but also thinks about the role of race in language and discusses Mr. Obama’s ability to speak in different registers. There are too many noteworthy thoughts to quote them all, but here are two brief extracts:
Smith finds that Obama presents an astounding variety of people in his book Dreams from My Father:

Obama can do young Jewish male, black old lady from the South Side, white woman from Kansas, Kenyan elders, white Harvard nerds, black Columbia nerds, activist women, churchmen, security guards, bank tellers, and even a British man called Mr. Wilkerson [...].

Concering the use of pronouns in his speeches, she argues that

[Dream City is] the kind of town where the wise man says “I” cautiously, because “I” feels like too straight and singular a phoneme to represent the true multiplicity of his experience. Instead, citizens of Dream City prefer to use the collective pronoun “we.” Throughout his campaign Obama was careful always to say we. He was noticeably wary of “I.”  By speaking so, he wasn’t simply avoiding a singularity he didn’t feel, he was also drawing us in with him. He had the audacity to suggest that, even if you can’t see it stamped on their faces, most people come from Dream City, too. Most of us have complicated back stories, messy histories, multiple narratives.

Interestingly, George Lakoff offers, although coming from a completely different direction, somewhat similar insights into Obama’s language: both scholars emphasize the importance of empathy.

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Jan 21 2009

Historic Moments: Obama Inaugurated as First African American President of the United States

After a campaign that lasted almost two years and finally saw Barack Obama as its victor, the 44th president of the United States was sworn in yesterday (January 20th). It was a historic moment for the US as well as for the world – for the first time ever, an African American holds the most powerful political office in the world. More than one million people came to the National Mall in Washington to witness the inauguration proceedings and to hear President Obama’s inaugural address. Especially many African Americans celebrated the moment that many did not believe they would live to see.

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After some small problems during the oath, President Obama’s generally well received first speech in office (transcript) had a rather serious tone – it was not as much characterized by the uplifting rhetoric that he was so popular for during the campaign but much more marked by the upcoming challenges.
With his predecessor sitting directly behind him, President Obama criticized policies and attitudes of the Bush administration on more than one occasion; for instance he said:

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake.

Also, he presented a rather self-critical view on America:

Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

And later:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Generally, the new President called on his “fellow citizens” to believe in American ideals again and to start the “remaking of America”:

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

After he and his Vice President Joe Biden had been sworn in, the new President attended the inaugural parade and later 10 inaugural balls. Early the next day, his first complete as 44th president, Barack Obama started to work.

Check out this very interesting analysis of President Obama’s inaugural address.

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Jan 19 2009

Obama Interview on the Economy

Barack Obama sat down with John Harwood of the New York Times for a long interview with a special focus on the economy and measures that his upcoming administration intends to take against the current downturn in the US. Watch it here:

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Jan 18 2009

Obama's Train Journey

On his way to the upcoming inauguration, Barack Obama took a train journey over the last days to Washington. The journey, which mirrored the one Abraham Lincoln took before his own inauguration, had several stops along the way and saw many thousand spectators. Get a first-hand impression with these videos:

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Jan 13 2009

George W. Bush's Final Presidential News Conference

On Monday, January 12, George W. Bush gave what is believed to have been his last press conference as the 43rd President of the United States. In this conference, the President admitted that he made some mistakes during his time in office but emphasized at the same time that he does not believe that the moral standing of the US was damaged by his actions. See this NY Times article for more details or watch the video below.

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Jan 06 2009

Upcoming: Inauguration Day

On January 20, 2009, the presidency of George W. Bush will officially come to an end while Barack Obama’s will formally start. At noon on that day, Mr. Bush’s administration will end while Mr. Obama will be sworn in as the new president of the United States and move into the White House with his family on the same day. The oath of office, traditionally administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, has the form mandated in Article II of the United States Constitution: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States“. Mr. Obama has announced that he will use Lincoln’s inaugural Bible to take this oath.
An extensive summary of the proceedings can be found at Wikipedia. Also, the United States Senate offers a website containing a lot of information on Inauguration Day, including a summary of the seperate events that traditionally take place that day like the morning worship service or the inaugural address.
Meanwhile, a great number of Americans seems to be interested in visiting Washington D.C. on January 20 in order to witness the swaring-in of the new president. According to the Boston Globe, between 1 and 5 million people are expected to come to the capial; a number that, as the New York Times reports, already caused a severe shortage in hotel rooms. Addtionally, many people get involved online. For instance, this website calls itself the “unoffical guide to Presidential Inauguration 2009″ and offers a lot of information revolving around the topic. Here you can also see that a ticket for the Inauguration Ball will cost you about $400 on ebay.

Take a look at two older inaugural addresses here:

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Dec 07 2008

John McCain Resources

After the end of his presidential campaign, John McCain returned to Capitol Hill to resume his position as Senator. The following post provides some information on Mr. McCain’s future plans, the end of his campaign and possible reasons for his defeat in the presidential election. In addition, it names some online-resources of speeches and other material.

YouTube is also a rich resource on Mr. McCain and his campaign. One user created for instance a mashup of Obama and McCain speeches that conrasts their rhetoric. This piece of user generated content can certainly not be seen as a form of ‘objective’ journalism, but is nevertheless provides us with a nice, direct comparison of the two candidates:

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A number of other speeches can also be watched online:

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