Saturday, 23 August 2008

Obama v McCain: increasingly less interesting...

When America goes to the polls for a President, Europe quite properly doesn't have any say in the matter (despite the fact that we Euros generally end up getting 'taxed' for America's choice in some way or other...): that's why the Guardian were so foolish in trying to influence the voters of Cook County back in 2004. It's possible, though, that some supposedly sophisticated Democrats think that having a few cheerleaders for their candidate across the Atlantic is a big deal; and that may be a dangerous delusion, just as Willie Whitelaw used to warn Margaret Thatcher that electorally it was no good her being adored and feted in Washington while the streets of London were boiling with Poll Tax rioters.
I'm still not sure what Barack Obama thought he was doing grandstanding in Berlin earlier this summer, and in my eyes he certainly extended his record of not having said anything interesting in his candidancy other than a few well-aimed shots at Mrs Clinton. On the whole the Euro tour looked to me like his version of the standard Democrat delusion, last displayed by that Boston brahmin John Kerry, who started off on the stump touting his admirable grasp of foreign languages (indeed of American-English, compared to the incumbent), then wound up being photographed out duck-hunting with buddies, while promising to 'fight and kill' the 'terrorists' overseas. Americans don't find these flip-flops too convincing on the whole.
Has Obama said anything useful lately about Russia, or Iran? I've only hearsay of what McCain's been saying, but the impression I have is that he says more of what a majority of swing-state American voters want to hear, and says it quicker and without palaver. So that's a problem for Obama right there. This is looking like a tight election, which I always imagined it would be, but the final calculus could be very boring and predictable indeed.
Oh, and now Obama has picked Joe Biden for VP. I really hope Biden's reputation in the US is based on a good deal more than the main reason why we know of him in the UK: a reason intimately related to the oratory skills of Neil Kinnock, a man who realised too late that, when in search of the highest political office, you can't afford to change your mind in public on a host of key issues and burning convictions.

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