Sydney Writer’s Festival – May 21, 2010 – Discussion of Barack Obama

This was a fascinating discussion in Sydney, Australia in 2010. Christopher Hitchens, British journalist Anne Davies, and Australian author Don Watson met for a panel discussion of Barack Obama, 2 and a half years into his first term.

It was fascinating to hear the perspectives of three individuals born outside of America (thought the late Chris Hitchens did become an American citizen) of an American president. The Australian moderator and the audience gave this a very Aussie feel, and as an American, it’s awfully embarrassing to see how much more knowledgeable Australians seem to be about American politics than we tend to be about Australian politics (or anywhere else).

This is now obviously quite dated, as criticisms that this trio likely would have brought up (drone policy, Guantanamo still being open in 2014, NSA overreach) were not quite at the forefront of the debates at that point. Still, at 2 an half years into President Obama’s first term, there was quite a bit to cover, and in this 53 minute video, the pundits on the stage covered quite a bit.

All three spent a substantial amount of time in America, and all had observed quite closely the political climate in Washington in mid-2010, as the Tea Party movement was reaching its strongest point. Their views of the Republican’s opposition to the President, and to his policies was interesting to me as an American who basically agreed with this trio, but viewed things from a more direct angle (ie: living here for nearly 30 years at that point in time).

They pointed out how people in other countries around the world viewed the Bush administration, and Obama by comparison. They discussed the ACA (briefly), and touched on the economic crisis that was only then bottoming out (and slowly recovering). They went over Obama’s foreign policy, and Hitchens made some interesting observations about actions taken by the President that few people noticed – that would have likely countered some Republican views of his “toughness” in foreign affairs.

The four years since this video have brought about substantial improvements in the economy, increased gridlock in Washington, and a bit rougher scene for the President’s foreign policy. It would be quite instructive to see Davies and Watson discuss the last four years, and review where things have gone. Sadly, Mr. Hitchens died not long after this video, and his contributions would be invaluable.

Anyway, I could discuss this forever, but I highly recommend taking a look at this video if you have an hour to kill. Outside views of American events are a great way to understand how this system works. Sometimes seeing things from the same angle tends to create biases and blind spots that make objectivity difficult.

About hbreck

Writer, debater, contrarian, storyteller, occasional troublemaker. I'm mostly just making things up as I go.
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