Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Obama Chases Irish Vote
According to a piece in the Irish Times today the Obama campaign are deeply concerned that the Irish American community that traditionally vote democrat might in November's election switch to McCain. There are several reasons for this. Firstly the Irish American community have always been big supporters of the Clinton's primarily because of the role both Bill and Hillary played in the Northern Irish peace process. In the long running democratic primary the Irish American community emphatically favoured Hillary over Obama. Like all Hillary voters the Obama campaign are intensely fearful that they may cross party lines. However this is a particular fear concerning the Irish vote in no short measure due to Obama's remarks last week about his intention to abolish the US special envoy to Northern Ireland. I say so what ! The Irish question (as Gladstone once put it) has been answered. I do not see the need for the envoy in these peaceful times. However the Irish American community apparently view it differently and see the envoy as an important link between Ireland and the US. The McCain campaign were naturally quick to try to take advantage. John McaCain personally stated his intention to retain the special envoy if elected. McCain spokesman Brian Rodgers went further saying that Senator Obama would be willing to toss aside one of the signature diplomatic accomplishments of the Clinton administration and put the progress in Northern Ireland at risk is only further evidence that he is simply not ready to lead.
According to Times Journalist Denis Staunton in St Paul/Minnesota this week for the Republican National Convention, Some of Mr Obama's supporters believe the Democratic candidate has relied until now on too narrow a group of advisers on Irish Affairs, allowing John McCain to outmaneuver him in pursuit of Irish American support. In response Obama has created an advisory panel on Irish affairs consisting of the most prominent Irish American politicians most notably Ted Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy and former special envoy to Northern Ireland under the Clinton Administration Senator George Mitchell (pictured). The purpose of this panel it would appear is to come up with a new definition of Irish American relations in the post troubles world that we live in. This panel will advise Obama who can then sell it in a positive way to Americas Paddys. I will keep an eye on this.