opinionBy Philip Ochieng
Nairobi — Blood, they say, is thicker than water. That is the only reason many of Kenya's voters support President Kibaki. His policies and performance do not matter. What matters is only that "he is our son".
This irrational sense of ethnicity is universal. It is what governs Kenyans' intense interest in Barack Obama becoming president of the United States.
The mere fact that Mr Obama is wuod Alego - that what flows in his vena cava is "half-Kenyan" - is enough for them. That is why so many Kenyans, especially in Luoland, identify so uncritically with the young Senator. Somehow - with or without a policy - he will bestow some undefined benefit on all of us.
Even if what he bestows is mere pride that a "Kenyan" - nay, a Luo - is presiding over the most powerful regime in history, many Kenyans will not mind even if his African and world policies turn out to be diabolical.
So far, Mr Obama has not uttered a word to indicate that he is a future George W. Bush. But do not forget that the American political system is an organism. It moves only where its brain - the corporate family - takes it. No matter how "humane" the head of it may be, he does answer only to Big Business.
Just a decade after Abraham Lincoln's celebrated definition of democracy, President Rutherford Hayes corrected him by affirming that the US was a "...government of the corporations, by the corporations for the corporations..." Soon afterwards, President Calvin Coolidge declared that America's only business "...is Big Business..."
At the end of the 19th century, President Theodore Roosevelt had fitting advice as to how US officials abroad should go about it. They should coo like a dove, said he, but carry a big stick.
Nobody has exemplified it like Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Margaret Thatcher - she whom Labour leader Neil Kinnock dismissed as "Mr Reagan's poodle" - and Tony Blair, the present denizen of London's 10 Downing Street, who excels as Mr Bush's poodle.
Nothing but a marionette
Even Jimmy Carter - perhaps the most humane and most morally conscious American president of all time - found out, during his brief White House tenure that he was nothing but a marionette of global US corporate interests. The upshot is that class, race, gender or tribe of origin in the Third World has nothing to do with it.
Despite their semi-proletarian backgrounds, Mr Reagan and Mrs Thatcher were outspokenly anti-labour. Despite her gender, Mrs Thatcher was tomboy who openly served anti-women causes. Despite her gender, race, and slave background, Condoleezza Rice rivals Henry Kissinger in the bloodiness with which she pursues oil for corporations belonging to White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (Wasp) machismos.
Of course, the way you do it depends on your personality and mastery (or not) of savoir faire. But the fact remains that the Oval Office is the ultimate political instrument of the corporations and that, once you occupy it, you have no choice but to pursue lucrative filth abroad and wallow in human blood.
You have no choice but to match at the vanguard of the forces always gallivanting overseas to secure strategic resources - especially oil - for the ever-hungry maws of America's corporate industry.
The US is noted for its impatience with tact. Diplomacy is not one of its fortes. The greenback is often dangled to bribe the way into every country. As a rule, military intervention is a more attractive alternative. But even here the US is so eager for quick victories that it has bungled just about every war it has waged abroad. Isn't it beginning to look as though Washington will soon pull out of Iraq with as much ignominy as it pulled out of Indo-China in 1975?
These characteristics of the White House transcend the ideo-moral constitution and political finesse of the individual. Neither race nor gender nor yet religio-ethnic affinity can help either. That is why we cannot expect too much from Barack Obama if and when he enters the White House.
To be sure, we hope that wuod Alego may one day romp into the Oval Office. But, clearly, he will deliver America from its superpower dilemma only if he can put paid to US corporate family's flaming greed for other people's resources and readiness to grab those resources free of charge - which is a tall order.