The political atmosphere here in Washington is equally mellow. Barack Obama seems to have been improving his performance as president. Unemployment figures are improving and if the next two months or so will continue to see a lower rate of unemployed people in this country, we will be able to talk of a definite trend. Then we can talk about America splitting away from the malaise in Europe. We are expecting around 4 percent growth in Turkey and unemployment has been steadily going down.
The race for the Republican nomination here has been an odd one. None of the candidates really inject hope for the Republicans. The choices are grim. The candidates are far from being material that could challenge Obama significantly. This is not eight months ago. Obama is a lucky president. If there had been a credible candidate on the Republican side, he would have had a hard time clinging to power. On the other hand, the Democrats are watching the Republican race with smiles on their faces. As the Republican race continues with no clear winner yet, Obama is busy courting the women of this country. In the last election he mobilized youth very effectively. This time around the Republicans have handed him a golden opportunity with regards to the contraception issue. He is certainly capitalizing on it. My cab driver today had me listen to a prominent Republican radio talk show. It was most interesting to listen to the program. One of the callers described in a most racist manner that “Obama used to have four legs and now has two.” My driver was not amused, and neither was I, but that is the kind of discourse being utilized on the airwaves here. America still has a hard time digesting having an African-American president. On the other hand, Obama knows that his performance will determine the fate of millions of African Americans, be it in the private sector or in politics. Obama's political performance has become a barometer for them. Just like Tansu Çiller's performance as prime minister reflected on millions of women in Turkey.
Visiting colleagues in Congress I noticed that the representatives and senators are almost all tall men. The average height of members of the US Congress is way higher than average. An American insider explained that in the world of images American politicians are expected to be towering figures. I guess I would not be able to make it here had I been an American citizen. A sigh of relief is warranted on my part, as I am Turkish.
The Syria situation is rather distasteful. The Obama administration has been calling for Bashar al-Assad to go but has done little on the diplomatic front to facilitate it. UK Prime Minister David Cameron was here, and his meeting with Obama did not produce the desired outcome that would have the US be part of a coalition that would topple Assad in Syria. Frustrating, indeed. Turkey will have to take matters into its own hands. The US will not be part of a military intervention. Given the mood back home, the chances for an intervention that would stop the violence are increasingly dim. The Syrian cancer is likely to bleed for some time more. Can the opposition hold out in the absence of external intervention? I doubt it. The increasing number of refugees at our border seems to attest to that.
America will not intervene unless the images of horror make it into the living rooms of ordinary Americans. A large proportion of both Republicans and Democrats feel it is time to stay home. For better or worse, the price paid will be horrendous for Syria's oppositionists.