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     Nov 8, 2012


US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Barry Obama rides again
By Pepe Escobar

LAS VEGAS - So he's done it. Way beyond demographics, the ground game, getting the turnout, the micro-targeting of voters, the worries about suppression of black and Hispanic early voters in Ohio and Florida, and over 55% of women voting for him, Barack Obama inherits his second term to try to (re)project at least a measure of the vanished American dream across a 

 
deeply, profoundly, divided country (with the popular vote virtually tied at 49%; not to mention the 90 million Americans who did not even bother to vote).

In Big O's big words: Here I am, baby (Stevie Wonder musical intro); now it's all about "perfecting our union"; "the heights of hope"; "an American family as one nation and one people"; "the best is yet to come". It's about equal opportunity; a "common bond"; "you can make it if you try"; and "hope". All over again. But this time for real. Will it stick?

CNN painted the Empire State blue. Mass hysteria took over the Obama headquarters in Chicago; but in the comfy air-conditioned bowels of the Aria casino in Vegas, there was hardly a peep. From the poker tournament going on at US$100 an entrance plus $25 buy-on to the multiple HD mega-screens of the Race and Sports book, most punters were more interested in betting on the NFL, horse races and even on the far away Champions League in Europe.

By sunset in Vegas it was clear that it's the Brits who really know one or two things about betting. Betfair was giving Romney only a 15% chance of winning. The Brits, meanwhile, were already burying him as a 9-to-1 corpse.

If this American election was a multi-billion-dollar casino operated by both campaigns, the Vegas real deal spells trouble. Aria was virtually empty the whole afternoon and early evening, local time, when the cliffhanger was all about Florida - just for the networks to finally project an Obama victory in Ohio clinching the deal.

It was quite a sight to meander through that illuminated cemetery of solitary machines. A Wheel of Fortune offering over $289,000. A Progressive offering over $1.2 million. A Megabucks offering a whopping $16 million (Double Diamonds, anyone?) And even a lowly Progressive - each play at 1 cent - offering a not negligible $11,000. No takers. No one. Nada. Except, later in the day, of course, a slow influx of Chinese fanatics, ready to conquer the blackjack tables. Mitt's proposed currency/trade war against the Middle Kingdom anyway is now dead in the (Asia-Pacific) water.

An empty casino spells out an economy in deep trouble. Obama did carry Nevada - but let's say voters were somewhat reluctant. Nevada is Foreclosure Hell - much more than Arizona (Romney won) or New Mexico (Obama won). Unemployment is officially at 12% but Las Vegas insiders point at over 20%. I just had to drive out of the Strip to see rows and rows of derelict, barely finished houses lying in the sun like cadavers. At least 7% of Nevada voters are Mormons. It was not enough for Romney. Nor a lot of casino workers who voted Obama in 2008 and changed their mind at the last minute this Tuesday.

Got balls, brother?
Nevada demographics are key - apart from the Obama campaign's faultless ground game. Since 2008, when Obama first carried the state, the Latino population has grown by no less than 39%. Most vote Democrat. The fact that the Romney campaign could never appeal to them even under an ultra-depressed economy graphically demonstrates supreme incompetence. The 71% pro-Obama Latino vote anyway did send a thunderous message to Republicans; Don't mess with us. We got cojones. You don't.

Over 6,000 miles (9,656 kilometers) across six states in the Southwest, The Roving Eye's informal polling could see this coming; Romney predictably carried Utah and Arizona (where soon the Latino vote will turn it blue). Obama carried California, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico. The Romney campaign did all it could to disenfranchise poor, black, Hispanic and student voters - all part of the 47%, along with soldiers, pensioners, and the unemployed - in every possible state, including these ones. It failed miserably. How could it not? Romney no less than fired 47% of the US population from civic life.

On top of it Mitt "Binders Full of Women" engineered somersaults to the right of Genghis Khan (no offense to Genghis) on everything from abortion to immigration, from climate change (it's a fraud!) to stem-cell research. And most of all the Holy Grail should be preserved at all costs; those Bush tax cuts.

On foreign policy, Romney would antagonize Russia and start a trade/currency war with China on day one - not to mention get ready to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran. Considering his astonishing ignorance of the world at large, he was easy prey to cosmic mediocrities such as Dan Senor or John Bolton. May they disappear into oblivion - and that also applies to Karl Rove.

So what next? In a perfect world, wishful thinking rules; Obama should give all he's got to build a US geared towards more tolerance, social justice and equality. That is far from given. As for the world at large, will Obama finally have the cojones to really address the Palestinian tragedy; carry a stick - and not carrots - to those anti-democratic Persian Gulf petro-monarchies; engage in a meaningful "reset" with Russia; think twice about his multiple shadow wars; not turn the "pivoting" to Asia into the preamble of a war against China; and seal a deal with Iran? Well, Barry, now there's no excuse; get your cojones in gear.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

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