Eagle: The Making of an Asian American President Volume 4
By: Kaiji Kawaguchi
Publisher: Viz Media
Age Rating: Teen+ (16+)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I know it’s been a while, but I’ve only go 2 volumes left of this series, and I’m determined to finish it! Okay, so this volume ends the cliffhanger from the last about Yamaoka possibly having an affair, and that Rachel was the result. Takashi helps clear that up, as he had a personal stake in the possibility. Then it’s on to the National Convention in Chicago. Here we see Bill Clinton step in, trying to get his wife “Ellery” the vice-president nomination. He goes to Noah first, who turns him down outright, so it’s off to Yamaoka, who seems more receptive. With the political weight of the Clintons behind him, Yamaoka takes the nomination, but instead nominates Noah for VP. With the Democratic players in place, the campaign can move to the national front, and we finally meet the Republican Candidate Richard Grant. He’s a Lt. General in the Air Force Reserve, former Astronaut and Senator from Colorado. He is also very much a flag-waving republican and supporter of the military complex. Yamaoka starts off a controversy at a Remembrance Ceremony at the Vietnam Vets Wall, denouncing the war. After some uproar, Yamaoka clarifies his statements by declaring he wants the US to stop being the world police and build up the UN to do it. He does this by courting his former CO, General Kerrigan, who is Special Advisor to Peacekeeping Forces to the UN. The volume ends with a trip to Seattle to see Yamaoka’s family and meet the next hurdle, the unions who represent the military and aerospace workers.
This volume goes back to the political wrangling and backstage deals. Noah loses his trump card with Maria Estefano retracting her statements about Yamaoka, and going into the convention, there is no clear winner, without some help. And that help comes in the form of (then) current president Bill Clinton. Of the real life political players in this title, he is the only one who’s name isn’t changed. But Bill isn’t the center of this part of the story. It’s his wife, dubbed Ellery. Hillary’s political ambitions were always known, and as Bill’s time in office were coming to an end, it was obvious that Hillary was ready for her own star to shine. Kawaguchi catches some of that with Bill trading his political clout for a VP nomination for Ellery. We see how Hillary was probably seen in the late nineties as a power hungry woman in Kawaguchi’s portrayal of Ellery. Though, I think he was being optimistic that Bill and Hillary had any kind of relationship as he shows Bill and Ellery to have. She is viewed as political poison by both Democratic candidates, as her lust for power and Bill’s clout could shorten their terms in favor of her. Only Yamaoka has the moxie to use the Clintons, as they intended to use him.
It’s interesting that Ellery is only rejected because she’s power hungry and not a woman. Hillary was seen the same way for the most part. Many of the people who didn’t want to support her, didn’t like for her, not her gender. In the 2008 campaign, we did see Bill come out and campaign for Hillary, but he didn’t have anywhere near the clout as Kawaguchi portrayed him to have. Granted, it’s been 8 years since he was in office, but I have doubts that even in 2000 he could have wielded such power.
What makes the battle for the Democratic VP in this title relevant to the 2008 campaign is that Yamaoka not only considers Noah as a VP, but actually nominates him and gambles on his answer. When it became anyone’s guess who would win, Obama or Hillary, it was floated around that the winner take the other as their VP and create the “Dream Team” of candidates for the Democrats. That didn’t happen of course, and no one really expected it too. Hillary and Obama fought hard for almost 2 years, and I don’t think eithers pride would have allowed them to fall under the other. In Kawaguchi’s world, Noah is a better man and accepts to be the No. 2 man again, under Yamaoka, because of the reason he went into politics; to help the American people.
The other interesting angle in choosing Noah, is that Yamaoka knows he minority heritage will put him at a disadvantage with a lot of Americans, who still see the country run by WASPs. By making Noah his VP, those people can put some of their fears aside. There’s also the fact that Noah has a lot of political experience that can reassure people unsure about Yamaoka’s lack of it. Obama took a similar tact in nominating Joe Biden as his VP. Biden is a WASP with many years in Washington, even having taken a run at the presidency at least once before. This is the first time that race comes up as an issue in the campaign, though not in the way expected. Yamaoka almost expects to be killed in office, and seems to be working to make sure the country is in good hands when he’s gone. It made perfect sense when I read this, well before the Democratic Convention, but then to see it happen in real life made me give Kawaguchi more respect for his political insights.
Yamaoka finally shows his cards though, at a Rememberance Ceremony for Vietnam Vets. He wants to see the US move away from being the world’s police force. This immediately stirs up a hornet’s nest as one would expect from a country that has always prided itself on it’s military might. Yamaoka wants to see less Americans die in other peoples wars. Grant grabs onto the typical Republican position that the US must fight because it’s our duty to protect the world. The world’s reaction is expectedly in favor of Yamaoka, just as we saw in the 2008 campaign that much of the world supported Obama and his message of change. McCain was seen as a continuation of G.W. Bush’s policies and strong arming ways.
Race comes up again at the end, when Yamaoka goes home to Seattle. Takashi informs us that the first Japanese immigrants to the US came to Seattle. It’s where Yamaoka’s family owns and runs an import business, and where Yamaoka’s next battle comes up. On the way to his family home, graffitti on a wall they drive by says “Jap Go Home” in large letters, giving a prelude to the racial issues that will probably come up in the last months of the campaign. The next battle for Yamaoka and his team, is getting the areospace unions, usually Democratic supporters, but very dependent on military contracts, to see the logic in Yamaoka’s plan. The leaders of the union are Hyphen Americans as well, and Takashi makes an interesting observation. The struggle to success in American is in how well immigrants can stick together and how well they can tear each other apart. It definitely feels like race will become big in this story’s end while in the 2008 campaign, everything was done to avoid such manuvers. While the outcome is fairly obvious, I think getting there is going to take some sharp turns.