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November 05, 2008



And hey, we turned North Carolina blue. An ever so light shade of blue...hmmm...I think we actually have a name for that shade of blue down here. State Red? Naw. Duke Blue? Oh hell no. ECU Purple? No, too dark. Tarheel Blue? Maybe? :P


This former student (continuing, really) was struck, for the first time in my life, by getting to know the "feeling" of a historic day that was made historic for positive rather than negative reasons. And by how most of that day felt utterly mundane; I spent almost all of it walking around Easton, PA, going door-to-door, and it mostly had the feeling of being dropped off in Somewhere, America, on any given Tuesday. Until 11:00 EST, of course....

Thanks for all your great work, Marc - I'll be looking forward to seeing where things go from here, and to reading your analyses, and all else. I'm glad Sophia will be growing up in times that at least have the capacity for real positive change on a wide scale.



It would take me a while to count all the campaigns I've ever worked on. I know the kind of enterprise they can be, the amount of time and energy they can absorb and the intense feelings of comradeship and shared endeavor they can foster. Not by coincidence is the very word borrowed from military usage.

I have never seen a Presidential campaign capture the sustained commitment of so many people for such an extended period of time as the Obama campaign did this year -- not a statement lightly made considering our campaign-centric political culture. Personally I thought the Obama campaign at its highest levels was overrated; given an opportunity to define their relatively new candidate to the American general electorate with reference to an historically unpopular incumbent President, Obama's team chose instead to run a conventional tit-for-tat with John McCain for months. Had it not been for the financial markets' panic beginning in September, Obama might well have lost.

But he surely would have lost if it had not been for the many thousands of volunteers working for him in nearly every part of every state. Four years ago the Bush reelection campaign pioneered innovations in the "ground game," the task of identifying voters sympathetic to one's cause and getting them to the polls. The Obama campaign surpassed that effort this year, and as much as the candidate for whom they worked so hard deserve congratulations on their victory.



They changed your webpage address. It use to be abuaardvark.com. that comes up with the Zebari story. Your new address is now: abuaardvark.typepad.com/abuaardvark. Now idea why that happened but it happened right around the time you posted the note about taking a break.

- Joel


Well done, AA, and congratulations.

Just make sure Joe Biden doesn't get to divvy up Iraq!

Robert Kammer

I am looking foward to your insights and information about the Middle East as Pres. Obama's influence directs US foreign policy. P.S. - Your photo, Sophia is truly the cutest aardvark I've ever seen.

Eric Martin

Just make sure Joe Biden doesn't get to divvy up Iraq!

Agreed bb. See, it happens on occasion ;)


Electing Obama was indeed a milestone --but Marc, I'd love to hear what you think of his possible policies on the Palestinian/Israeli question. I have to say that looking at his campaign policy team I'm really hard-pressed to find anyone who would be obviously productive in that direction...


Well thanks for that, Eric. Very handsome of you. I must say the revelation of this campaign that Joe Biden was a blithering idiot came as a rude shock to me and I really feel both you and Marc could have alerted your non-US readers to this sad reality? After all, he is only a heart beat from the presidency, as they say.

Andrea ... Marc could start with a run down on Rahm Emanuel, the President elect's first appointment, who took pride of place at his left hand side at today's press conference?

How will that play in Ramadi and Gaza?

A blogger from Lebanon

Change? I am curious to read what kind of change you are anticipating, Marc. Call me a pessimist (hey, that's what I am anyway), but I just can't see how Obama provides "hope" of any shape or form -- of course, other than signaling an end to G.W. Bush's disastrous reign.
It would also be nice to hear your thoughts on Rahm Emanuel and Dennis Ross and the role they will be playing in shaping the Obama administration's take on the I/P conflict.
Here in the Arab world, Rahm's father's comment about Arabs being fit to wipe the floors of the White House is circulating at a crazy pace, and hasn't gone down too well. Granted that Rahm isn't his father, but his track record on Israel, combined with the father's comments, are being seen around here as an indication that it's "more of the same", rather than change and hope. Obama's "yes we can" is as ambiguous and misleading as the rest of his replies and comments on issues. The question is not whether you can -- you shouldn't have needed an Obama to tell you that change is possible -- but whether you WILL. That's what the peoples of the world were hoping for, that's what they were celebrating -- naively, I should say. They were not celebrating a campaign slogan or a victory statement that doesn't take a rocket scientist to come up with.


Thanks, everyone.

Robert, what can I say - I agree completely!

bb and Eric - like I said when Biden was announced as VP, I don't think the partition idea is on anyone's agenda right now so I'm not worried about it. I don't agree that he's been revealed as a "blithering idiot", but everyone's got an opinion!

Andrea and abfL - you're right that the Rahm Emmanuel pick played badly in the region.. I saw angry criticisms of it on al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya and on al-Quds newspaper before I had even seen confirmation in the US media! But for what it's worth, it seems pretty obvious that the pick was made because he's close to Obama and known to be brutally effective in the legislative arena, not because of his foreign policy views. How that will play out remains to be seen - since we don't even know what the foreign policy team will look like yet.

Jonathan  Versen

Don't know how you can be so enthusiastic about a guy who says he'll expand the war in Afghanistan, chose Biden as his vp, and assured AIPAC he'd threaten Iran-- to say nothing, on the home front, of his support for the noxious bailout bill. But I hope you are right, Professor Aardvark, and I am wrong.


The choice of Rahm Israel Emmanuel, an Israeli citizen and a reserve officer in the Israeli army, to be Obama's right hand is certainly a huge disappointment to those who were inspired by Obama's campaign to see a meaningful change in US foreign policy, its handling of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the relations with the Muslim world. I honestly did not even think that people with such strong ties to "foreign" countries, especially military, can even obtain security clearance to work for the U.S. government, let alone being the president's eyes and ears! Last time I checked "Israel" was still a foreign country!

I know an Arab American who was denied serving in the military because he calls his mom overseas once a week and sends money to help his niece in college, among other similar stupid reasons of course.

After only one presidential daily briefing by the intelligence people, Obama came out singing like President Bush when he was asked about Iran. President Obama in his first term will be eying 2012; therefore, when it comes to U.S.foreign policy in the Middle East, I really believe it will be more of the same.

It is still too early, I agree, but the expectations are too high, maybe far beyond what Obama can possibly achieve knowing the conventional wisdom in how foreign policy decisions are takig in Washington. let's wait and see, and hope for the best. God bless America.


Marc, it is fine to celebrate your party's victory, but if you want people like me (involved in US-Arab relations, lean right-of center, plenty open to cooperating with Democrats) to respect your spirit of cooperation and that of the new administration, comments like this do a whole lot to undermine it:

"where so many people came together and rejected the false choices, the vile propaganda and whispering campaigns, the cynically cultivated stupidity, the recklessly stoked fear and hate."

The direct implication is that these are the only reasons why someone could not vote for Obama. I don't dislike Obama, but the combination of both promising cooperation (FAR more so than the average politician-speak) while his supporters talk this kind of drivel is hypocritical at best. It reminds me of the colleague who told me (mistaking me for a Clinton supporter last spring) that the only reason anyone could vote for Clinton would be racism. I am not naive enough to think that Obama intends to get 95% of the public behind him, but if he wants 60 or 70%, that includes McCain voters. And they aren't going to be impressed by this constant logic that "the only reason you disagree with us is that you are ____."

It reminds me of the comments 4 years ago at the Democratic convention... "there are two types of people in this country, those that try to divide us, and those who want to unify us"... said, of course, with no hint of self-awareness.

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