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2008年6月 6日 (金)


EDITORIAL: President Obama?

06/06/2008 --The Asahi Shimbun, June 5 (IHT/Asahi: June 6,2008)


At long last, the race to name the Democratic candidate for U.S. president has been settled with the emergence of Sen. Barack Obama as the first African-American nominee. His candidacy dashes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's challenge to be the first woman to win the nomination. Obama, who was born to a Kenyan father and a white American mother, will go up against Republican Sen. John McCain in the Nov. 4 presidential election.



The sensation that Obama stirred from the outset of the primaries must have caught many readers by surprise. Can the United States really change that much and overcome racial prejudice against blacks? This is the question that has been on their minds.



U.S. history tells us that the abolition of slavery was a product of the American Civil War (1861-1865). But actually, harsh discrimination continued after the war and the voting rights of blacks in the South were curtailed for many years. It wasn't until 1965 that all forms of discrimination, including suffrage restrictions, were officially abolished.



More than four decades later, the United States has entered an age in which an African-American will be running for president. Without question, American society has changed.


A speech that Obama delivered at the 2004 Democratic convention brought him instant accolades when, in a call for unity, he said: "There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."



Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States leading up to the quagmire of the Iraq war, U.S. society under the Bush administration has become sharply divided. The differences are over traditional values and such matters as religion and the gap between the rich and the poor, not to mention the propriety of the war itself.



Obama's message is a call for unity of American society and "change" from conventional politics. The reason Obama attracted such enthusiastic support from young people and well-educated white Americans is that he tried to get across his message despite the fact he is black, a factor that could have worked against him.


get across=わからせる、理解させる、納得させる)

But the momentum he generated early on started to show signs of waning during the latter part of his campaign. His image was tarnished when it came to light that a pastor of a black church in Chicago that Obama attended had made inflammatory remarks to incite antipathy between races.




While keeping a distance from the grudges of blacks who have been a target of discrimination, Obama called for harmony among people of different ethnic backgrounds. His strategy was apparently based on his belief that he could aggravate division if he emphasized his position as a victim of discrimination.



The decline in support for Obama toward the end of the campaign seems to imply the hesitation in American society to accept a black as a presidential candidate.


Still, the Democrats chose Obama. The public approval rating of President George W. Bush has dropped to an all-time low and American society is seething with discontent. Obama fought a close race against Clinton, who time and again stressed that she was more qualified for the job of president because of her experience. Obama's victory suggests that Americans are ready to embrace change.


seething=内心にえくりかえるような、沸騰している、逆巻いている)(time and again=ことあるごとに)


Debate with McCain has already started over such issues as withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and rebuilding the economy. How has American society changed and will continue to change? How will it deal with the racial problem? We need to keep an even closer eye on the upcoming presidential election.


--The Asahi Shimbun, June 5 (IHT/Asahi: June 6,2008)

朝日新聞6月05日号 (英語版 2008年6月06日発行)


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