Sunday, April 26, 2009

Douglas Burns quoted in London Observer today on Obama's first 100 days

Writing in the London Observer today Paul Harris leads with material from Carroll Daily Times Herald columnist Douglas Burns on President Obama's first 100 days.

Here is The Observer:

Douglas Burns works on a newspaper in the small town of Carroll, Iowa, whose 10,000 souls live near the banks of the Middle Raccoon River amid a wide expanse of quintessential American farmland.

Burns is a columnist on Carroll's Daily Times Herald, a post that would not normally see him command the attention of those who aspire to occupy the White House. Yet Burns has interviewed Barack Obama a staggering six times. "It is remarkable, I suppose," he said. Burns's position of power comes from the unique role Iowa has played in the rise of Obama to the White House.

Throughout 2007, he followed Obama's Iowa's campaign for the Democratic nomination as it criss-crossed the state, stopping in dozens of tiny towns, just like Carroll, gradually building up to Obama's astonishing victory over Hillary Clinton for on 3 January 2008. That night went down as one of the most significant in recent American history. It showed that this farm-dominated, overwhelmingly white, midwestern state could be an unlikely springboard for Obama's journey to the White House.

That victory not only proved that he could beat the Democratic frontrunner - Clinton - but that white voters were more than willing to elect a black man as their commander-in-chief.

To cheering crowds in the state capital Des Moines, Obama delivered one of the most memorable speeches of his generation, which began with the words: "You know, they said this day would never come." When it was over, his supporters partied long into the night.

Since then, Iowa has featured strongly in Obama's team - several key members of his government hail from the state - and Obama has held an equally special place in the state's political folklore. "Obama's political life as president was essentially born here. He really is a president from Iowa," said Burns.

Later Burns is quoted on his assessment of how the 2010 governor's race may play in the 2012 Republican presidential caucuses in Iowa.

In Iowa, that fight is already playing out, as local congressman Steve King prepares to seek his party's nomination for the governor's race in 2010. King is deeply conservative and, if he gets the nod, it will be a signal that Iowa's conservative Republicans - probably boosted by the decision to legalise gay marriage - will be dominant.

That will have a national impact, because it will lay a powerful base for someone like Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, to run for the Republican nomination in 2012, using Iowa as a springboard, just as Obama did.

Not that the prospect worries Democrats. Many welcome the Republican party's drift rightwards as a sign it is losing touch with the centre ground that so often decides US elections. "They will really be defeating themselves for a generation," said Burns.

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