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The Guardian 08.11.2012

The Guardian 08.11.2012

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‘The best is yet to come’
 T
he improbable journeygoes on. What BarackObama always regardedas the unlikeliest of political odysseys willnow be allowed to run itsfull measure. By a clearermargin than many of his supporters had dared hope, thepeople of the United States voted to lettheir 44th president finish what he hadstarted.As election night brought the familiar,intense focus on this or that countyin Ohio or Florida, it was easy to losesight of the scale of Obama’s achieve-ment. Of course becoming America’sfirst black president four years ago wasan unrepeatable feat, but winning fourmore years made history too. Obamais only the fourth Democrat since 1900to win two full terms in the WhiteHouse. Only Woodrow Wilson, FranklinRoosevelt and Bill Clinton have matchedhis achievement.And he did it in the hardest of circumstances. The expertslong believed that to winre-election with unemploy-ment at or above 8% was todefy political gravity: noone had done it since 1940.Yet that was the jobless
Continued on page 3 ≥
£1.20
Thursday 08.11.12Published in Londonand Manchester
number Obama confronted from the dayhe took offi ce until two months ago. Hisapproval ratings had struggled to break50%. He had been on the receiving endof a four-year assault from the right – thealternative universe embodied by FoxNews, which tore itself apart on air asKarl Rove refused to accept the cold,hard facts set out by Fox’s own number-crunchers – which sought to “other”the US president, to paint him as BarackHussein Obama, the Kenyan MarxistMuslim bent on destroying America.Despite all that he won and won con-vincingly – with no need of recounts andnot a hanging chad in sight.It was a monumental achievement,one the renewed president recognisedwith a magnificent speech. In Chicago before a crowd both relieved anddelighted, he spoke with a force, clarityand determination that had scarcely been glimpsed in the 2012 campaign.The rhetoric was soaring – “for theUnited States of America the best is yetto come” – and moving but it was alsorooted in the concrete. He set out thegoals of his second term: “Reducingour deficit. Reforming our tax code.Fixing our immigration system. Freeingourselves from foreign oil.”But he also spoke of a danger that had barely featured on the campaign trail,warning of “the destructive power of a warming planet”. For his supporters,including those frustrated by the timid-ity of much of his first term – and thelethargy of his appearance in the first TVdebate – this was the Obama they had been waiting for.It brought hope flickering back to lifeinside Democrats who wonder if, havingmade history, Obama might now defyit, reversing the usual order and achiev-ing more in his second term than in hisfirst. His healthcare reform will now beimplemented. If he can somehow nego-tiate the looming fiscal cliff, bringingtax revenues and spending into balance,
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
The president’smonumental victoryleaves supporterswondering whetherhe can defy politicalgravity and achievemore in his secondterm than in hisfirst, writes
JonathanFreedland
24 pages of the best news,analysis and comment onObama’s second-term triumphIn news
Oliver Burkeman traces a night of drama and emotion across America
Cameron and Miliband drawdifferent lessons from the US result
Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger andLarry Elliott on the president’s in-tray
In Comment
Martin Kettle: Republicans mustrespond to the huge shift in theHispanic vote or risk withering away
Leader comment: forget who won,think instead what won – healthcarereform, more taxes for the rich,gay marriage, big government
In g2
Emma Brockes on how women won it for Obama, and what his victory means for them
 
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The Guardian | Thursday 8 November 2012
Obama victoryThe aftermath
Celebration time – then straight
Ewen MacAskillWashington
 Barack Obama flew back to Washingtonand his desk in the Oval offi ce yesterdayhours after delivering an election victoryspeech in Chicago in which he called forthe country to unite behind him. Obama said: “You voted for action, notpolitics as usual,” but there was little signthat that call would be answered, withthe president facing the prospect of doing business with a hostile Republican-ledHouse of Representatives for at least thenext two years and a looming showdownover spending and debt – the so-called“fiscal cliff”. Both the Republican House Speaker,John Boehner, and the Democratic leaderin the Senate, Harry Reid, spoke about aneed to work together to resolve the crisis, but it could turn into one of the biggestclashes yet between the White House andCongress under Obama’s presidency. While the inauguration is not untilJanuary, in effect Obama embarked onhis second term yesterday. Having disap-pointed many supporters in his first term,he is looking now to establish a legacy thatwill transform him from a middling presi-dent into a great one.As well as overseeing what he hopeswill be continued economic recovery,he hopes to address issues ranging fromimmigration reform to investment in edu-cation and climate change, and, in foreignpolicy, from Iran to Israel-Palestine.As well as comfortably winning morethan the required 270 electoral collegevotes, he also secured a higher share of the popular vote, giving him a mandatefor his struggles with the Republican-ledHouse. House Republicans, however, maynot view it as a mandate.Boehner, in a statement yesterday,sounded conciliatory. He cited “the needfor both parties to find common groundand take steps together to help our econ-omy grow and create jobs, which is criticalto solving our debt”. Obama is reported tohave phoned Boehner yesterday to beginnegotiation.Reid, so often at odds with Boehner,also sounded conciliatory, saying: “I lookat the challenges that we have ahead of us and I reach out to my Republican col-leagues in the Senate and the House. Let’scome together. We know what the issuesare, let’s solve them.”Obama, in an initially off-the-recordinterview during the campaign, expressedoptimism of a “grand bargain” with theRepublicans, one that eluded him lastyear. The trouble will come when talksmove to detail, with the Republicans want-ing to protect military spending while theDemocrats seek cuts. Obama has called fortax increases on households earning morethan $250,000; Boehner has rejected anytax increases.Shares dropped on the Dow in anticipa-tion of continued gridlock. By lunchtime,all the major US markets were down over300 points.The new House, which will be formedin January, will look much like the exist-ing one, which has a huge Republicanmajority. The Senate too remained littlechanged, with the Democrats retainingtheir slim majority, gaining three and los-ing one.In the presidential race, Romney wononly one of the swing states, North Caro-lina, while Obama held New Hampshire,Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, Iowaand Colorado.As of yesterday the winner of Florida’s29 electoral college votes remained unde-cided. With the votes still being counted,the question was whether the result wouldfall within the margin that automaticallyrequires a recount.Whatever the result in Florida the elec-tion was chaotic, with huge lines formingin Miami-Dade – something Obama saidneeded to be fixed during his victoryspeech in Chicago. The long lines were blamed on Republican machinations todiscourage Democrats from voting.In his victory speech in Chicago, Obamareferred to the long queues to vote andsaid there is a need for electoral reform.He returned to the soaring rhetoric thatwas his trademark during the 2008 elec-tion, reprising once again his 2008 sloganabout “hope”.Stepping up to the lectern to the upbeatstrains of Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed,Delivered, I’m Yours, Obama told theecstatic crowd of supporters: “Tonight inthis election, you, the American people,reminded us that while our road has beenhard, while our journey has been long, wehave picked ourselves up, we have foughtour way back. And we know in our heartsthat for the United States of America the best is yet to come.” In a speech that lastedmore than 25 minutes, after paying emo-tional tribute to his wife, Michelle, and hisdaughters, Malia and Sasha – as well as tohis vice-president, Joe Biden – Obamareturned to the message that first broughthim to national attention.“We are not as divided as our politicssuggests,” he said. “We’re not as cynicalas the pundits believe. We are greater thanthe sum of our individual ambitions, andwe remain more than a collection of redstates and blue states. We are, and foreverwill be, the United States of America.”Obama made clear he had an agenda inmind for his second term, citing changesin the tax code, immigration reform and,as he put it, an America “that isn’t threat-ened by the destructive power of a warm-ing planet”.Shortly beforehand, Romney hadphoned the president to concede. In agracious concession speech in Boston,Romney told his supporters: “This is atime for great challenges for America andI pray the president will be successful inguiding our nation.”The campaign almost throughout has been a referendum on Obama. Althoughthere was widespread disillusionmentwith the slow pace of economy recov-ery, Americans decided to stick with theincumbent.Historically, it would have been adisappointment for African Americansand many white liberals if the first blackpresidency had ended in failure, haltedprematurely.
Timothy Garton Ash, page 34 ≥Martin Kettle, page 35 ≥Leader comment, page 36 ≥
Obama still has to faceRepublican-led HouseBattle looms on ‘fiscal cliff’of spending and debt
 
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The Guardian | Thursday 8 November 2012
3
‘The best isyet to come’,vows Obama
← continued from page 1
back to work for the president
that too will endear him to posterity.But the president cannot do thatalone. Action on the deficit will requirea “grand bargain” with Congress andthat means the Republican party, whichretained control of the House of Repre-sentatives, though Democrats remain incharge in the Senate. The risk for Obamais that, for all his renewed talk of biparti-san co-operation, he might be thwarted by all too familiar gridlock. Yet the night marked more than justthe extension of the Obama presidency:it also confirmed the arrival of theObama nation. For underpinning thepresident’s success was a shift in thevery nature of the US electorate, withwhite voters accounting for a smallershare than ever before. Now 28% of American voters are non-white, a three-fold increase over the last four decades.And these rising groups that make upthe new America vote Democrat.That much was clear in what analystJohn Heilemann called Obama’s “coali-tion of the ascendant”. The presidentcould trail Romney among white men because, polls showed, he could rely on93% support among black Americans,71% of Latinos, 60% of the under-30sand 55% of women.The US pundit class is fond of hail-ing every presidential election as the birth of a new, permanent Democraticor Republican majority. Such verdictsshould be handled with care. After all,Romney came within two percentagepoints of Obama in the popular vote.Nevertheless, the political complexionof the American people is changing.Striking was the passage in three statesof measures authorising equal marriagefor gay couples. Wisconsin elected thefirst openly gay senator, Tammy Bald-win. The Obama campaign understoodthis new electorate and turned out itsvote brilliantly.The Republicans are in the reverseposition. They lost because they reliedon a white vote that is shrinking. Whatwill surely follow is a battle for the soulof the Republican party, realists pittedagainst purists. The realists will argueRepublicans must expand their appeal if they are not to be doomed to perennialdefeat. Romney won fewer Latino vot-ers than John McCain, who won fewerthan George W Bush. That was partly because, to survive the Republicanprimaries, Romney had to adopt a hardline on immigration, calling on migrantsto “self-deport”. In that move, theLatino commentator Ana Navarro toldCNN: “He self-deported from the WhiteHouse.”Others will add that Republicans haveto change the way they speak to women,after two candidates who suggested thatwomen should be forced by law to bearthe children of their rapists lost winna- ble Senate seats.The purists will brook no suchchange, insisting Republicans must staytrue to their small government, sociallyconservative message. The people willcome around eventually, they believe,especially if the party can find an attrac-tive, ideally non-white messenger – say,senator Marco Rubio of Florida.The consequence could well bea Republican civil war, or period of “reflection and recalibration” as Texassenator John Cornyn politely called it.But a change is overdue. Without it,Republicans will surely endure morenights like the one they suffered onTuesday, when they gathered in a Bos-ton ballroom for what was meant to bea victory party – a glum, all-white groupstaring at a giant screen, watching TVpictures from Chicago of a crowd of  beaming Democrats, young and old, black and white, celebrating a victorythat tasted even sweeter the secondtime around.
Supporterscheer PresidentObama’s addressat the glitteringelection nightparty in Chicagoto celebrateovercoming theRepublicanchallenge fromMitt RomneyPhotograph: MattRourke/AP
Guardian News & Media, KingsPlace, 90 York Way, London N19GU. 020 3353 2000. Fax 0207837 2114. In Manchester:Centurion House, 129 Deans-gate, Manchester M3 3WR.Telephone Sales: London020 7611 9000; Manchester0161 908 3800. guardian.co.uk. The Guardian lists linksto third-party websites, butdoes not endorse them orguarantee their authentic-ity or accuracy. Back issuesfrom Historic Newspapers:0870 165 1470. guardian.backissuenewspapers.co.uk.The Guardian is published byGuardian News & Media, KingsPlace, 90 York Way, London N19GU, and at Centurion House,129 Deansgate, ManchesterM3 3WR. Printed at GuardianPrint Centre, Rick RobertsWay, Stratford, London E152GN; Guardian Print CentreNorth, Longbridge Road,Manchester M17 1SN; andat Carn Web, 2 Esky Drive,Carn, Portadown, Craigavon,County Armagh BT63 5YY. No.51,688, Thursday 8 November2012. Registered as a news-paper at the Post Offi ce ISSN0261-3077
NEWSPAPERSSUPPORTRECYCLING
Therecycled papercontentofUK newspapersin 2011was 78.9%
Winning Tweet
Hug photo makes social media history
Luke Harding
The photograph of Barack Obama embrac-ing his wife Michelle with the words “fourmore years” has set new records as themost liked and re-tweeted post in socialmedia history.Obama posted the image at 0416 GMT,effectively claiming victory over MittRomney in the US presidential race. Sincethen it has been re-tweeted nearly 700,000times. More than 3.23 million people haveliked the image on Facebook, with over400,000 shares; more than 100,000 wereliking it every hour yesterday.The unprecedented viral success of the post confirmed the role that socialmedia played in the campaign. In thepast, election night ended when the los-ing candidate phoned the winner to con-cede defeat, with news of the “phone call”promptly leaked to news media.Obama pinged his tweet soon after thetelevision networks had called victory forhim in the crucial swing state of Ohio. Itwas another two hours and 20 minutes before the president appeared in personand gave his formal victory address toecstatic supporters in Chicago.Obama’s photo – which shows himhugging his wife, eyes closed – has setthe standard for future presidential vic-tors. The post also gave an opportunityfor the rest of the world to congratulateObama personally. Often in their ownlanguages. And, in a few cases, to tell himwhat a lousy president he is. “Awful. Igno-rant,” Amanda Zahn, of Illinois, wrote onObama’s Facebook page. Another posterfrom the same state added acidly: “Theregoes the US economy.”The majority of non-US posters, how-ever, warmly welcomed the president’sre-election. The “hug” photo was sharedacross continents and time zones, with con-gratulations pouring in from Namibia, Bra-zil, Denmark, Chile, Kenya, Italy, Albania,and countless other countries. Several Brit-ons also left their mark; one message read“Well done Sir from England xxxxxxxx”Another Briton keen to share in Obama’svictory was David Cameron. The primeminister tweeted: “Warm congratulationsto my friend @BarackObama.” Cameron’smessage was re-tweeted a comparativelymodest 1,500 times.Spare a thought, meanwhile, for Rom-ney. His last tweet – sent before he accepteddefeat – read: “With your help, we will turnour country around and get America backon the path to prosperity.”Since then his account has been silent.
The picture of the Obamashugging has been re-tweeted700,000 times
 
What’s next
Obama’s plans for the second term
guardian.co.uk/usa

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