Primary thoughts

All right, silly season’s over.

Just one last bit though – Scarlett Johansen endorsed Obama. Must be worth a second look.
Mind you, so did Ted Kennedy. Anyone endorsed by the Kennedy’s has to be dodgy.

Now some serious thoughts on the US election: its turned into an interesting tussle – not so much the tussle between candidates, but the tussle between electing a set of policies and attitudes and electing a person.

In theory, the Republicans shouldn’t have a hope in November. an unpopular war and a looming recession should make it just one of those years it should be a shoo-in for the opposition party.

The only hope they have is someone with major cross-over appeal. My pick would have been Guiliani but that’s now a gonner.

But it does look as though the Republicans, pretty much despite themselves, are about to nominate someone who actually has a good chance of being elected.

And if – as I suspect – McCain picks Huckabee as his running mate, that will appease a lot of Republicans who believe McCain isn’t a true conservative. (I’ve got more reservations about Huckabee than I do about McCain, because I believe in the separation of church and state.)
As each day goes by the Democrats look to be in more trouble. A lot of the internal scrap now seems to be about which ancestral sin needs to be atoned for more: racism or sexism. This is not the way to win over undecided voters.

They’re still very caught up in the identity politics battles of the past half century. I suspect most voters have now moved on from all that. The ones who haven’t are going to vote Democrat anyway.

The thing is, when you elect anyone to office, its not just about picking someone who has ticked off the right policy boxes. When it comes down to it, we elect human beings.

Here’s a wee thought experiment: how many people do you know whose political views are pretty close to your own but who you would not put in charge of anything more complicated than the wine list?

It comes down to judgement and strength of character, in the end. McCain – who sort of reminds me of a stroppier version of Uncle Charlie in My Three Sons – has it in spades. The Vietnam prisoner of war thing, yeah, but more importantly also the willingness to defy his party when he thought his party was making a big mistake. He’s got guts.

Having said all that, I’ve got an atrocious record at picking US presidential candidates…by that, I mean, my own preference as opposed to who will win. My favourites usually,…well, this year it was Guiliani, and he did what most of my picks have done.

Lets see now, Anderson in 1980; can’t recall who in ’84; Kemp in ’88 Tsongas in 1992 (an economically conservative Democrat was an intriguing anomaly) ; Dole – somewhat reluctantly – in ’96…None of the Above in 2000 and 2004…you get the idea.

I stress though these were picks I wanted to win, not who I thought would win. I’ve got a much better track record on that one.

3 thoughts on “Primary thoughts

  1. I have a lot of sympathy for the view that McCain would make a good President. His history is full of the ‘right stuff’. But for me and many people he falls over for one simple reason: Terrible judgment.McCain claims he thought invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Terrible judgment in my view. Disqualifyingly bad judgment. Same applies to Clinton. She voted for the whole programme. So either McCain really does lack judgment on a monumental scale, OR….he’s not being honest about his real views and is playing to his party and his base. Either way, not the man for me. Clinton has been clever-clever and not at all smart. Obama wouldn’t be my first pick. Dennis Kucinich was and is better, but he’s out. So it boils down to Obama and I have to say his speech on race last week was very impressive. meeting a tough issue head on and in a constructive, positive, engaging way that showed what I thought was very good judgment. If a President has bad judgment, s/he does stupid things like invade the wrong country and waste lives and trillions of dollars. McCain shows no sign of being any different to Bush in that regard. He says he still thinks Iraq was a good idea. Um…no.


  2. I was never an enthusiast for the Iraq war either – to put it mildly. Not out of moral outrage or anything, (although I never believed the WMD stuff) but simply because it looked, to use your words, terrible judgement. This is how empires fall. I don’t share a lot of people’s almost unthinking anti-Americanism – for all the country’s faults, they are closer to our values than, say a Chinese-dominated Pacific would be. But I suppose I’m looking forward. Of all the candidates McCain to me looks more likely to have the hard headed can-do abilities to get past the conflict and end it.Obama? I’m , Agnostic/sceptical, but not full-on anti. I instinctively distrust politicans with a surplus of charisma. I have to admit that what I’ve seen I do kind of like, but there’s still a huge question mark.He’s also pretty new. Give him a few years, I reckon.Having said that, a McCain-Obama contest would at least pit two people who seem, from this distance, rather more admirable human beings than the last few races.


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