Bahama for Obama….rah rah rah!

It’s the beginning of week four and I already feel as though my head is spinning a little…

Last week, we had the chance to have a breakfast Q&A with NYTimes Chief Washington Correspondent, David Sanger, who has written a really interesting book about Obama’s high-tech warfare strategies (e.g. Stuxnet/Cyber warfare and Drones), with which I, despite being an Obama fan, happen to be pretty uneasy (the strategies, not the book).

He participated in a lively and amusing little back and forth with Korbel’s Dean Christopher Hill, former US Ambassador to Iraq about all sorts of foreign policy issues (Syria, Iran, Israel). I also asked him about how he maintains objectivity (seemed relevant given his very buddy-buddy relationship with Dean Hill, who was once a great source of his, as well as a target for attack in an article on the six party talks Hill was engaged in during his time as head of the US delegation set up to try to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem in 2005) while building the necessary relationships that journalists must develop in order to get access to good information. Part of his answer was basically to admit that as the Chief Washington Correspondent at the New York Times, you’re in a pretty privileged position when it comes to being able to put pressure on people to work with you, and to continue to work with you even if you publish a story they don’t like. Seriously, what an awesome position to be in as a journalist.

I also asked him his thoughts on what the US’ plans for Julian Assange might be, and whether the Wikileak founder’s claims of seeking asylum in Ecuador as an escape from potential extradition to the US from Sweden to face trial for releasing US information via Wikileaks seemed to have any foundation, based on what he may have heard in the US.

Sanger said he couldn’t see it as he couldn’t see how they could try a non-American who did something outside of America under the Espionage Act. Given the handling of Bradley Manning , and the entire premise of Guantanamo, I can certainly see a way being found, but it was interesting to hear his perspective. 

Later the same day I attended a talk by Susan Norris, who lived in China for many years, working as a journalist, and today works at the Congressional Research Service, where she investigates and advises the US government on China-related matters. She clearly has great insight and experience in this area, and gave a really interesting talk about China’s enormous power transition that is coming up later this year, wherein 75% of its current politicians will be replaced, due to eligibility for retirement,and its recent political scandals (e.g. Bo Xilai, and the “disappearance” of the leader-in-waiting, Xi Jinping). Norris noted key changes are also predicted to take place in the Politburo, the nine-seat grouping that holds ultimate power in China, with major seats potentially disappearing (Propaganda and Internal Security, strangely enough) altogether, or being merged with other ministries. This, she noted, is all the more intriguing since it comes at a time when such portfolios (internal security) would seem to have more and more relevance to the challenges China’s leadership is facing (more internal criticism, dissatisfaction with corruption, etc).

Norris also provided some quirky anecdotes about life as a politician in China, such as the fact that on Chinese TV news, a politician is NEVER heard speaking (their image will appear on screen while the news reporting talks over them) and the President of China, Hu Jintao, has never given a media interview in China. Amazing.

Which would seem a relevant segway to the fact that our very own Denver University will play host this week to what some might say is the ultimate alternative to the Chinese style of politics – – – the first Presidential Debate of the campaign season. That’s right, the big man Barry O and his foot-in-mouth foe Romney are set to go head to head among the treadmills and weight machines at the Ritchie Center, where I work out. 

To be precise, they have closed the entire building that houses our university gym for a whole week to set it up such that the Magness Arena, where DU’s Hockey and Basketball teams normally play, is being fitted out to ensure that the 7,000 seat venue can seat a grand total of…..“several hundred people”….. Huh? 

Anyway, yes, security is tight. They are also shutting down the inter-state highway for the duration of the debate and have essentially penned a bunch of local residents into their neighbourhoods with police cordons and so on. At the end of the day, it’s been a curious experience to see how one goes about preparing to host the Prez and the wannabe Prez of America, but I suppose this is the age we live in and no chances can be taken.

Nonetheless, despite security concerns suggesting that only the resurrected Jesus stands a high chance of getting in, and then only if he removes his sandals as he goes through the metal detector, the organising committee has promised that some tickets to the debate itself will be made available to DU students via a lottery system. Tomorrow morning is the moment when I will find out if I get to go into the hallowed chamber wearing my “BAHAMA FOR OBAMA” t-shirt I got when the Bahamas went Obama-nuts during the 2008 election. 

Meanwhile, the university itself has been behaving like a lovestruck teenager who just found out the boy of their dreams is stopping by unannounced. New signs are flying up everywhere, soil is flying left, right and centre as flower beds get dug and building facades are being power-washed like there’s no tomorrow.

Stay tuned to find out if this Bahamian gets to see Democracy in Action.

In the meantime, tomorrow I have an essay on International Monetary Relations to hand in (an analysis of 140 years of monetary history in 6 double-spaced pages! Definitely a challenge…) and an extra class to make up in the evening because my usual Wednesday night class has been cancelled in favour of Debate watching.

A long day lies ahead…fare thee well, blogosphere-o’s.

 

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Posted on September 30, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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