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Barack Obama

Campaign Art: "Between Two Ferns" with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama

Johanna Martinsson's picture

Last week, President Barack Obama appeared on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ Web-based show “Between Two Ferns.” The president’s purpose for doing the show was to promote HealthCare.gov. Julia R. Azari, a political scientist  of Marquette University, provides a interesting analysis on these types of appearances by political leaders; how they cultivate a less formal image and provide an opportunity to engage with the public through unconventional media channels. You can read her post here. But first, enjoy the show! Here's a link to the video.

Quote of the Week: Barack Obama

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Nothing comes to my desk that is perfectly solvable. Otherwise someone else would have solved it. So you wind up dealing with probabilities. Any given decision you make you’ll wind up with a 30 to 40 percent chance that it isn’t going to work. You have to own that and feel comfortable with the way you made that decision. You can’t be paralyzed by the fact that it might not work out.”

- Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

As quoted in Vanity Fair, October 2012, Obama's Way, by Micahel Lewis

#6: The Arab Spring: Welcome to the Explanation Olympics

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Our Top Ten Blog Posts by Readership in 2011

Originally published on March 3, 2011

Is it possible to 'technocrat-ize' a revolution that is still roaring? The Arab Spring has been a spectacular surprise that so-called experts around the world failed to foresee, yet the same experts are now rushing to impose their favorite frameworks/paradigms on it. I call it the Explanation Olympics. There are experts who are tremendously certain the Arab Spring is all about social media. Others are quite sure it is all about the price of food. Still others say: it is the youth bulge, stupid. A New York Times columnist has just thrown a whole bunch of other explanations into the mix, some of them a trifle baffling.  (See: 'This is just the start' by Tom Friedman).

Quote of the Week: Barack Obama

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder…In the 21st Century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.”

– U.S. President Barack Obama, “Obama Middle East speech”, BBC News, May 19, 2011

An American Lesson: Counter-Reform Can Shape Public Opinion

Sina Odugbemi's picture

What might be the generalizable lessons of the recent mid-term elections in the United States? There are several that this blog would be interested in. The one that I would like to draw attention to today is the fact that despite the huge reform bills that Democrats successfully passed - the biggest being the health care reform bill - it seems clear that they lost the battle for public opinion, and that losing that battle did not help them on election day, whatever else shaped voter preferences on that day.  Reformers everywhere need to reflect on that experience very carefully.

When reforms fail what is often blamed is 'lack of political will'; in other words, not enough leaders in leadership positions in the specific country context supported the proposed reform and it failed. Suppose you secure political will, as in this case, and the reform succeeds, is it game-over? Clearly not. To quote Robert  O. Varenik of the Open Society Justice Initiative (at the end of a  review of a series of pretrial detention reform experiences from around the world): "The acid test of reform should not be what can be attained but what can be sustained."

President Obama’s “Race to the Top” and What It Teaches Us about Social Participatory Governance

Tanya Gupta's picture

Earlier this year, the White House and the Department of Education announced the Race to the Top High School Commencement competition.  They invited public schools across the US to compete to have President Obama speak at their graduation.  In addition to the essay responses, applicants were encouraged to include materials like a video showing the school’s culture and character and data on key indicators such as attendance, and student achievement.  Six finalists were selected by the White House and Department of Education. The schools were then featured on the White House website and the public voted for the three schools they felt best meet the President’s goal, on the White House blog.  The three finalists included Clark Montessori Jr. & Sr. High School in Cincinnati, OH, Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo, MI, and Denver School of Science and Technology in Denver, CO.  On May 4, the President selected Kalamazoo Central High School as the winner from these three finalists.  He will visit the winning high school to deliver the commencement address to the class of 2010.

The Technocrat and the Politician

Sina Odugbemi's picture

As a salute to the historic passage of health care reform in the United States, a story that this blog has been tracking, I want to recall something that Senator Barack Obama ( as he then was) said in 2008. It was in the course of his epic battle with Senator Hillary Clinton (as she then was) for the presidential nomination of the Democratic party. You will recall that the two of them debated health care reform interminably in those months. The issue was: was health care reform merely a problem of technical design?

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