Is 2008 Obama Back?

At the recent and widely reported White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Seth Meyer’s had a line which I predict will be analyzed down the road – ““I’ll tell you who could beat you: 2008 Barack Obama. You would have loved him.”
With his speech yesterday on the Middle East, I hope the 2008 Obama is back. His call for a settlement based on 1967 borders[1] can be either seen as a continuation of, or a radical departure from the Clinton/Bush strategies. One can point to different points of time and words to describe America’s view on what a Middle East solution should look like. Purposeful ambiguity was built into any policy position on the Middle East so that politicians could appeal to different domestic interest groups without offending anybody. The biggest difference from the past in Obama’s May 19 speech is that clarity has replaced ambiguity on what the American sense of a Middle East solution is.  
Why does clarity matter? Because it signals principle over pragmatism, and sincerity over strategy. Obama has de-linked his domestic political interests in laying out America’s role in a Middle East solution. His speech is going to do him little good in his reelection campaign, and may actually hurt him a little – or maybe a lot, It may cost him Florida. I wouldn’t be surprised if his reelection campaign strategists discussed this with him, or he with them. If they did talk about it and he still gave the speech, more kudos to him.
But principle over pragmatism, and sincerity over strategy have not always been hallmarks of the Obama Presidency. Obama’s base has expressed its disappointment in his Presidency on these grounds for some time now. The dilution of the health reform package, the capitulation on the financial reform package, the extension of the Bush tax cuts, and the continuation of the military adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq are manifestations of the victory of pragmatism and strategy over principle and sincerity.
What made 2008 Obama appealing beyond his racial background was that he seemed to stand for principle and oozed sincerity. Principle and sincerity seemed to be a brilliantly employed strategy in the campaign. The promise seemed a mirage. With his May 19 speech, one can only hope that 2008 Obama is back. For the execution of principle and sincerity are victories in themselves and will contribute to nation building far more than any electoral or political win. That was the promise of Obama 2008, and we should expect no less.
We will know that 2008 Obama is back if he does not dilute his call for Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders, and if he is willing to take on the Republican House as it sips its tea. In other words, if he starts doing some things that may even have negative reelection consequences.

[1]We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”  For the full speech click here.

Hope They Fly Better Than They Price

Given that I am going to be flying with them in the near future, I hope British Airways employees use more logic and reason in the cockpit than they do pricing flights.

I suppose that there is some way to explain my discovery in a ‘Freakonomics’ sort of way. I refuse to try. I’ll simply present the facts and see if some of you can explain whether this makes any sense. Explanations forthcoming or not, if someone knows someone in British Airways who is responsible for pricing policy, tell them I’m willing to help. Why would I think they need help?.

I am flying to Bengaluru with a stopover in London in June returning in July. Chicago is my take off point. Economy seems uncomfortable (a combination of my girth inflation and airline seat size deflation), and Business is simply pricey. Maximizing across the two variables of comfort and price, and given my route British Airways World Traveller Plus and Virgin Atlantics Premium Economy became contenders. Web research and reports suggested that Virgin Atlantic is the better deal on price and comfort, except they only fly to Delhi in India. British Airways flies Bengaluru directly from London. So I thought I’ll split the difference. Fly BA in and Virgin on my return. I could always stop for a day in Delhi and see folks on my way out.

So I go to price One Way ORD to BLR with stopover in LHR and it tells me that the price is $ 4442.41.

Except when I checked out Round Trip ORD – BLR, going ORD to BLR with a stopover in LHR (exact same flight as one way above including flights and dates), and returning BLR – ORD the price was $ 3,533.32!

And in case you are wondering, I fired up my laptop and my netbook and had both these quotes simultaneously at about 1517 Hrs. on Friday, May 13, 2011. I present the relevant parts of the quotes below – click on them please.

One Way ORD to BLR

One Way ORD to BLR and Back

Now as I said, you may be able to explain the logic and reason for this. I however am changing my mind and turning to prayer. I’m flying BA and my plea to the Lord is, “Dear Lord, Please make sure that there is more logic and reason in BA’s cockpit than in their pricing.”