Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama Inauguration

Australia held an election on November 24th, 2007. By the end of the night it was clear Labor had won and that Kevin Rudd was the new Prime Minister. The next day he was making pronouncements and the previous Prime Minister handed over the keys to the residence in Canberra (The Lodge) on November 29th. The polls for the lower house were all declared by mid December. The Senate for which the voting is complicated took longer to finalise but it does not determine who governs. Rudd famously told his cabinet ministers they could have Christmas day off but had to be back at work on December 26 (also a public holiday). In Australia, Christmas of course falls in mid-summer and for many the holidays last well into January and schools do not return until after Australia Day (Jan 26). However the Labor Government and Rudd were clearly running the country.

New Zealand had an election on Nov 8 this year. The new Prime Minister asked the Governor General to allow the declaration of the polls to be speeded up so that he could attend APEC in Peru as Prime Minister this week. Apparently he got his wish.

All this leads to my inability to understand the US situation where the new President is elected on November 4 but does not take office until January 20.

Normally that would not interest me but the Global Financial Crisis has meant the World leaders of the G20 have met in Washington this week without the presence of the man who will be the most powerful person in the world in 2 months time. The meeting has been chaired by a person who is now almost irrelevant. Many of the world leaders would have naturally liked to meet with Obama but he has properly refused such meetings. Instead they have met with a go-between, Madeleine Albright.
I have just listened to Obama's speech on the financial situation delivered by Youtube and provided at Wounded Bird. As I have said, it is very confusing and frustrating.

There has been a stir here in Australia because apparently President Bush rang Kevin Rudd last week while Rudd was hosting a dinner. He is supposed to have taken the call in another room. However at the dinner was the editor of one of our newspapers who later reported that Bush asked Rudd "What is the G20?"
Both Bush and Rudd deny this now but who knows. Did the editor overhear? Was Rudd so exasperated he unwisely let his feelings slip?
Our Television services played over and over the rather muted welcome (compared to the warm greeting of other leaders and not the photo above) by Bush to Rudd when he arrived in Washington on Friday and the warmer greeting the next day.
I, of course, could not care less if Bush and Rudd are not the bosom buddies that Bush and Howard were. Rudd has met with Obama before his election and spoken by phone with him since. I hope they have a warm working relationship. But it goes to show further this strange situation of the transfer of power in the US.


Fran said...

It is all due to some archaic rules which I do not have the time to delve into here.

Those rules must change!

Brian R said...

I am sure you will change them, Fran :-)

Doorman-Priest said...

I could believe the phone call!

Leonard said...

The phone call is typical of the blundering of Bush and his advisors...I hope they´ll be able to locate the the exit door without being escorted out (and leave the last of a Nations Proud Patrimony where they found it)!

Anonymous said...

The U.S. Constitution was written this way 228 years ago and this is how the country still handles its national elections today. However, I am glad that Obama is going ahead and appointing his Cabinet and chief advisors. He has chosen some very smart people to help him with all of the problems that we face in the U.S.

Brian R said...

Yes constitutions are very difficult to change. Sometimes this is good but it causes problems at other times in order to keep up with modern society, even ours which is only 108 years old.

Anonymous said...

I just heard this morning that Obama has chosen Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. She will be a good one.

I'm getting very tired of the Republicans who keep whining about how this country will be in deep trouble because Obama won. They don't remember that under Bill Clinton we had a balanced budget and no wars.

Brian R said...

Yes, I am glad Hilary and Obama are able to work together. The fact that they were in competition for the Presidency was disappointing. That a capable woman and a capable black man were competing for the one job was a problem. Bush's comments today in Peru about free markets show he still does not understand.

June Butler said...

Brian, I would not doubt the report of the substance of the phone call for one minute. The depths of Bush's ignorance seem without limit. If it didn't happen, is surely could have.

It's a long time between the election and the inauguration, much too long. 59 more days.