Monday, November 03, 2008

America - Regardless of the Election

Being in the middle of our presidential campaign, maybe we have forgotten something. This paragraph from The Sunday Herald's Welcome to the White House … you sure you want it? reminded me of just how different we are.

YOU HAVE to hand it to America - just when the country seems to be on the point of collapse at home and abroad they turn around and elect a leader who really does make a difference: Barack Obama. A black man in the White House. A president whose middle name is "Hussein". If nothing else, it'll get the world's attention.

Try and imagine a black Prime Minister of Great Britain or President of France. The United States has done wrong to its minorities but what other country looks at its wrongs and admits them? For most of us, the question is have we done enough to correct our errors or not?

The article has more interesting points:

Yes, Obama could still lose on Tuesday. But if latent racism or hanging chads rob him of victory there will be hell to pay, so let's not go there. I'm assuming the polls are accurate and Obama is in line for a comfortable victory, if not a landslide. He has already won a moral victory over the tasteless Republican campaign led by the excitable John McCain and his pitbull running mate, Sarah Palin.

But is there any reason to believe that, for all his charisma, president Obama in office will be any better than his predecessors? Isn't "change you can believe in" just another slogan, and a singularly empty one at that? Yes - but there'll be time enough for disillusion. Let's focus on the positive: at least he looks the part. Obama is arguably the best presidential candidate since Kennedy.

I would put him ahead of Kennedy but then I never was overawed by the Kennedy mystique. Race trumps religion as the great dividing line in our country.

Obama comes equipped with no fixed economic philosophy, apart from tax cuts for the middle classes and help for people losing their homes. But eventually he is going to have to admit that this will be followed, as night follows day, by tax increases as the government tries to meet the cost of the various bailouts launched by George W Bush - such as the £700 billion TARP which has thrown money at the banks without showing any obvious sign of economic benefit. Obama will be called upon to bail out Main Street even though Wall Street has now got its hands on taxpayers' money.

There is no evidence that Obama has any big ideas for fixing the economy - but he is going to have to think of some soon. America and the world needs the kind of radical action that Franklin D Roosevelt applied to America in the New Deal in the 1930s after the last Great Crash.

Ah, but herein lies a difference between FDR and Obama - FDR had three years to think of economic ideas and Obama has had about a month. At least, we can rely on Obama having brains, the ideas will come.

The article ends with this, and what I think contains a serious criticism of McCain:

Need we go on? Rarely in history has it been so easy to predict the troubles facing a new president. Barack Obama will need to be more than just a great leader, he will need to be a miracle-worker.

Who is better situated to be a miracle worker in a shifting world - Obama or McCain?

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