Our dear friend Phil Krone from Chicago who visits us often, has been promoting Barack Obama for more than a year - months before he even decided to run - and is on his way to New Hampshire after having campaigned for Obama in Iowa where he carried the small (676 people, 327 households, and 182 families at the 2000 census), rural, all white precinct of Elgin for Obama. It was his first visit there in 55 years, but as a child he had spent a week in Elgin every summer between 1947 and 1952 with Henry and Rose Wolf. Dr Henry Wolf, an old fashioned family doctor, was from Chicago and his father's best friend.
Phil believes that Obama will at least tie Hillary in New Hampshire, lose narrowly in Nevada and then score big in South Carolina. On February 5 “Super Tuesday”, there are a lot of states voting, including New York and Illinois, New Jersey and California. Phil thinks that this might be the day that the nomination is decided in favour of Obama. His tentative forecast is that Obama will come in second in New York and carry all of the other big states, and by that day he will be getting up to 90% of the black vote, not for reasons of hostility to Hillary Clinton or John Edwards, but out of unalloyed pride in the first African American to have a real chance of being president.
Senator Clinton said that 'while some hope for change [referring to Obama], some demand change [referring to Edwards] I work for change'. Phil told the Iowa caucus that he believed all of the major candidates were better than the Republicans and that they all hoped, demanded and worked for change. But the big difference was that "Obama IS change”. He told the 64 all white caucus participants at Elgim that while the United States is predominantly white, the world is predominantly yellow, brown and black, and as intelligent and good as they all are, only Obama is truly different and his election would indeed send a message to Africa, Asia and South American unlike any ever sent before."
Phil has always been an astute and hugely knowledgeable observer of political developments, both in the US and around the world, and I hope Gordon Brown is thinking seriously about the prospect that under Obama, the US would be turning its back on the disastrous foreign policies of the Bush era.
If I were a US citizen I would be voting for Mr Obama, and any time he's in town, he's welcome to dine at the House of Lords as my guest with a representative group of MPs and peers of all parties. But I hope that after the election, he will be getting an invitation from Downing Street.