How alike are Barack Obama and Tony Blair? Quite similar if you ask me.
One of the main similarities they share is their power of oration. Blair is arguably one of the best orators Britain has ever had, and Obama’s eloquence is incomparable to many of the former Presidents of the US-especially George Bush.
It is true that there oratory skills are spell binding, but can they also be compared in the sense that they both manifest empty rhetoric? Blair did achieve a lot during his leadership, including the introduction of the minimum wage, making the Bank of England independent, and his successful military operations in Kosovo and Sierra Leone. But what he will always be remembered for is the invasion of Iraq- something Obama is not blamed for. However, Blair deceived the public with his rhetoric into believing that Saddam Hussein had ‘weapons of mass destruction’ when in reality, it was all a farce. This was a clear example of Blair using his ‘gift of gab’ in order to trick people into believing in something which was only a fairytale. Having watched the recent Iraq inquiry, it seems Blair, although seeming quite genuine, has not learnt his lesson. But it now seems that Obama is preparing to rehearse and roll out the same lies about the ‘nuclear weapons of Iran’, (just as Bush and Blair did) in order to create fear. Why? So that he can invade Iran without objection from his people. Where Obama and Blair, in my opinion are also similar, is the way they can be lead. Blair followed Bush into invading Iraq, and Obama pressurised by powerful lobbyists, is soon enough going to invade Iran.
I cannot compare the accomplishments of Obama to Blair, as Obama is only half way though his first term. But I will say that so far he is failing. He is failing in his promises to the American people, to the people around the world, and he is failing himself by not living up to his ‘hope campaign.’ Howevever, what I can commend Obama for are some of his stimulus measures including: changes to the financial regulatory system (the most sweeping since the 1930s), a health reform act, and the fact that American combat operations ended in Iraq although 50,000 remain in a support role until the end of 2011.
The American economy is still in a dire mess, unemployment is still drastically high; and many of his key officials in the democratic party are leaving. Another disappointment is his promise of closing Guantanamo Bay which has yet to be fulfilled. I must concede that becoming a President after George Bush cannot be easy. It is ultimately the mess that Bush left behind that Obama has to clear up. Bush left America with an enormous debt, whilst going around terrorising countries-making America the most hated country in the world. Not something that can be fixed over night. So in that respect, I do have some sympathy for Obama.
With all the hype and rhetoric prior to Obama’s election, it is no wonder why expectations were so high, and no wonder that he is now failing. Was it even possible to create the sort of change he promised? Things are starting to look even worse for the American President, as the mid term elections went in favour of the Republicans. Obama will now have less power then before, and when he tries to pass things through congress, he will face vicious Republicans wanting to bite his hand off.
Blair made it clear at the beginning of his leadership that Labour would need to be voted in twice for significant change to occur. I think Obama needs to employ the same tactic, but it could be a bit too late.