Barack Hussein Obama was on Tuesday elected the 44th president of the United States, in a stunning personal and historic triumph. Irish concerns about the impact of an Obama administration, relate to jobs as it did in 1863, in America, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
The 47-year old Obama will face serious economic challenges at a time of great change and peril. The expectations of many supporters are likely to be disappointed. However, if he can adapt his impressive skills in running a successful, disciplined campaign, to governing, it will be a good start.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” President-elect Obama said to a huge crowd in Chicago on Tuesday night.
“This is a historic election, and I recognize the significance it has for African-Americans and the special significance it has for them,”Senator McCain said in an address in Phoenix, adding: “We both realise that we have come a long way from the injustices that once stained our nation’s reputations.”
McCain's great-great-grandfather was a slave owner in Mississippi.
Both America and Ireland are facing severe economic recessions and despite the Celtic Tiger, the Irish economy is still overwhelmingly dependent on US firms - - who are responsible for 90% of Irish exports.
There are fears that an Obama administration and Democratic Congress, will make it less attractive for US firms to use Ireland as a base for operations and as a tax haven.
The impact of the recession in the US and the contraction of the finance sector, will likely have a greater impact on the flow of investments, including the outlook for Dublin's International Financial Services Center (IFSC) and Obama advisor Robert Shapiro said in Dublin on Tuesday that there is a “significant possibility” an Obama administration will change the current tax rules, under which US companies pay tax on overseas earnings only when profits are repatriated.
However, he told a conference“there will be no seismic change in flows of FDI to Ireland or anywhere else as a result of the changes.”
During the Civil War in the 1860's, the Irish in the big cities of America, generally supported the then racist Democratic Party. They opposed the Emancipation Proclamation, because of the perceived threat to their jobs from freed black slaves.
When a Union Army draft was introduced, which enabled the wealthy to pay for an exemption, the Irish rioted in New York and vented their anger on blacks, including lynchings and the burning of black orphanages.
|President George W. Bush hosts a meeting with senior advisers in the newly-renovated Oval Office, which includes a specially-designed wool rug featuring the Presidential coat of arms Dec. 20, 2001. The colour scheme of the first Oval Office, built in 1909 during the Taft Administration, was olive green. |
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Peggy Noonan, a columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a former speechwriter for President Reagan, recently wrote: "He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief. He climbed steep stairs, born off the continent with no father to guide, a dreamy, abandoning mother, mixed race, no connections. He rose with guts and gifts. He is steady, calm, and, in terms of the execution of his political ascent, still the primary and almost only area in which his executive abilities can be discerned, he shows good judgment in terms of whom to hire and consult, what steps to take and moves to make. We witnessed from him this year something unique in American politics: He took down a political machine without raising his voice.
A great moment: When the press was hitting hard on the pregnancy of Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter, he did not respond with a politically shrewd "I have no comment," or "We shouldn't judge." Instead he said, "My mother had me when she was 18," which shamed the press and others into silence. He showed grace when he didn't have to.
There is something else. On Feb. 5, Super Tuesday, Mr. Obama won the Alabama primary with 56% to Hillary Clinton's 42%. That evening, a friend watched the victory speech on TV in his suburban den. His 10-year-old daughter walked in, saw on the screen "Obama Wins" and "Alabama." She said, "Daddy, we saw a documentary on Martin Luther King Day in school." She said, "That's where they used the hoses." Suddenly my friend saw it new. Birmingham, 1963, and the water hoses used against the civil rights demonstrators. And now look, the black man thanking Alabama for his victory."