Clinton in Algiers: Coverage of the 29 October Visit

SUMMARY. This post surveys some of the public discourse on American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Algiers on 29 October 2012, looking at official statements and Algerian press coverage of the visit. It is the base from which this blogger’s recent article in the CTC Sentinel (‘An Algerian Press Review: Determining Algiers’ Position on an Intervention in Mali‘; the title is perhaps somewhat misleading) was written. As such it was mostly written in early November. This post is primarily concerned with the press coverage of the visit than with Algeria’s Mali policy as such.

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On Obama’s Cairo speech

Official and unoffficial reactions to Barack Obama’s speech at Cairo University are out, and the minds of many have been made up. Here are this blogger’s reactions to some of its major points, thematically, with emphasis on criticism, not genuflection (for the former is more valuable than the latter). Continue reading

Reactions to Obama’s nomination

After talking with various people and looking over several reactions to Barack Obama’s realization of the Democratic presidential nomination (as well as Mrs. Clinton’s shamelessly arrogant speech), I have decided to post a few of the ones I agree with or find interesting, along with some older statements that I think might be appropriate to the feeling of the occasion (one of which is clearly from the view of his supporters; the other is more ambiguous, and could come from his, Mrs. Clinton’s or John McCain’s supporters.) Continue reading

Dredful comments from a dredful woman

A reason to take Hillary Clinton less seriously:

Desperate to get attention for her cause to seat Florida and Michigan delegates, Hillary Clinton compared the plight of Zimbabweans in their recent fraudulent election to the uncounted votes of Michigan and Florida voters saying it is wrong when “people go through the motions of an election only to have them discarded and disregarded.”
“We’re seeing that right now in Zimbabwe,” Clinton explained. “Tragically, an election was held, the president lost, they refused to abide by the will of the people,” Clinton told the crowd of senior citizens at a retirement community in south Florida.

“So we can never take for granted our precious right to vote. It is the single most important, privilege and right any of us have, because in that ballot box we are all equal. You’re equal to a billionaire. You’re equal to the president, every single one of us.”

The Michigan primary vaguely reminded me of a Soviet-era election, with only the leader’s name on the ballot. Allow me to roll my eyes. Comments like this one make me want to buy into the argument that Barack Obama will offer Americans a more genuinely empathetic insight into the developing world. It is clear that Mrs. Clinton cannot.

The working class?

Of course, Hillary is part of the problem, because she embraces this dichotomy and tries to use it to her advantage (taking photo-ops of herself doing shots in a bar, dissing economists, and so forth all while she withholds disclosing her 100 million dollar piggy bank). In her increasing desperation to remain in a race that she lost when it became apparent she didn’t have a strategy beyond Super Tuesday I, she has fed the media this narrative. It has gotten so bad that Bill had the audacity to make the following remarks in Indiana:

“The great divide in this country is not by race or even income, it’s by those who think they are better than everyone else and think they should play by a different set of rules.”

This is the typical stereotype that media and politicians peddle to the actual working class. Living in an Ivory Tower world, such people are somehow convinced that the average man is more affected by show-offs, than discrimination or lack of work. In fact, when one of the candidates stops and recognizes how dependent the current American system has made working class people on their jobs – to the extent that work is connected to dignity – he is the one that is smeared.

Working Class Elitists,” Ali Eteraz, The Huffington Post, 7 May, 2008.

There is much truth in Eteraz’s posting. I would argue, though, that Hillary is not part of the problem simply because embraces this false dichotomy. Rather, she is a part of the problem because she is desperately selfish (or ambitious) and embraces anything that holds a remote possibility of offering her victory. The “working class” talk is a mere symptom of her campaigning style, which has led her embrace more than subtle bigotry, first against Senator Obama’s supposed Muslim leanings and then his racial background. The real crime here is shamelessness.

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Hot potato?

Over the weekend, I was alerted to the fact that John McCain had dropped a prominent Arab-American from its finance committe in Michigan, Ali Jawad. Jawad made comments about Hezb Allah which painted the Lebanese guerilla organization as less than evil, and as a result was dubbed a terrorist sympathizer by the ever moronic Debbie Schlussel, a Michigan-based blogger who specializes in badmouthing Arab-Americans, Muslims, blacks, “illegal immigrants” (read, Hispanics) and Barack Obama. Schlussel rushed to condemn the young men who were arrested for having purchased several hundred cell phones for re-sale in 2006 as “terrorists” and continued to blurber on along similar lines well after the two had been proven innocent. Her “citizen journalism” is of a moldy yellow, without scruples and of the lowest order. Her racialism is apparently influential enough to push the McCain campaign into tossing out “undesirable” personalities from its machine. Continue reading

On Barack Obama, Arabs, and Muslims

Things that have proved tricky for Mr Obama at home are a boon for him in parts of the Middle East. That his middle name, Hussein, is reckoned to be something of a liability in America is in turn seen in parts of the Middle East as evidence of American Islamophobia. Mr Obama’s first name also appeals to Arab speakers: Barack comes from the Arabic word for “blessing” (Mr Obama could perhaps reassure Jewish-American voters that it is also linked to the Hebrew “Baruch”). His opposition to the Iraq war stands him in good stead, too, in contrast to Mrs Clinton and Mr McCain. Some Arabs are less smitten. Anti-Syrian politicians and activists in Lebanon may worry about Mr Obama’s willingness to start talks with Iran, fearing that they could result in America “selling out” Lebanon in exchange for a deal elsewhere in the region. But, for now, he seems to be the candidate of choice among Arabs.

The view from afar,” The Economist, 5 April, 2008. Continue reading

Of Melians

In a heartening instance of moral clarity, Dan Abrams became one of the first major television commentators to expressly condemn the anti-Muslim incitement coming from the Clinton campaign. When asked whether or not she thought that Senator Obama was a Muslim, Senator Clinton stated that as far as she knew he was not.

Abrams stated that Mrs. Clinton “could have and should have been unequivocal” in her statement. Instead, the Senator has continued to encourage the use of Senator Obama’s Muslim heritage as a smear against him. (To Mrs. Clinton’s credit, she did, rather smugly, state several times that she did not believe that Obama is a Muslim.) A viewer wrote in to the Abram Report, condemning Senator Clinton’s response and calling on the media to “take a moral stand” on the issue of Barack Obama’s religion. Abrams responded by stating that he was doing just that, by stating that it is a “fact that he is not a Muslim.”

My comments are thus: Continue reading

Color Lines

Realistically, Clinton seems to have difficulty winning anywhere she can’t mobilize racial polarization in her favor. Obama has, of course, deployed polarization to his benefit in a number of states (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana most notably) but he’s also dominated the states with very few black voters.

Matthew Yglesias, “Maine for Obama“.*

I agree with this assessment in large part. Mrs. Clinton thrives on division, and has been quite apt at using differences between various ethnic minorities to her advantage. Mrs. Clinton handedly defeated Mr. Obama in states where large non-black minorities exist, usually taking these communities. In California (a state copious with respect to Asian-American voters), for example, Mrs. Clinton defeated Mr. Obama by 3-1 among Asian-Americans. Mr. Obama lost the Hispanic vote in New York, California, Nevada, and elsewhere. Many analyses have put this in terms of racism on the part of such minorities. While a great deal of racism exists within most American minority communities (especially towards blacks, and I do not doubt that this played a role), there is surely a plethora of sensible reasons that could have led them towards Mrs. Clinton.

I would like to comment on Mr. Obama’s showing among Arab-American voters. Regrettably, though, where Arab-Americans make up a sizable portion of the electorate, they either did not vote in significant numbers (with voter turn out being less than 9% in some places), or there are no specific statistics out for that sub-population. Polls, however, have shown that the Obama campaign has been somewhat more successful than the Clinton campaign among Arab-Americans. On 14 January, 2008, it was 39% to 36%, respectively. Many in the pro-Israel community enjoy using this (and the composition of Obama’s foreign policy team) as evidence that Obama is less pro-Israel than Mrs. Clinton.** From an Arab-American point of view, this is nonsense; Mr. Obama has done nothing at the national level that can be described as being “pro-Arab” or “pro-Muslim”, let alone anything that can seriously be interpreted as being anti-Israel. He has deliberately attempted to make himself appear to be more pro-Israel than the rhetoric he used when fishing for Arab votes while running for state office in Illinois. Nevertheless, over the course of this last primary season, Arab-American voters have become increasingly Democratic and by many estimates increasingly Obamaicized. Anecdotally, I have yet to meet an Arab-American fellow in my peer group who is not an Obama man — be he Christian or Muslim. For the females, I know a few who are Clinton inclined, but most seem to be Obama girls. The adults are more divided, but the slant is for Obama. The Arab-American Republicans I am close to are either rooting for Ron Paul or John McCain; more-so McCain.

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