Sunday, October 26, 2008

2008 Presidential Elections

It is about time to render judgment on the candidates proffered. I hate these multi-year campaigns. They do not shed much light on the candidates, and their expense and focus on appearance must have a corrupting effect on the process and the candidates.

I’m not enamored of either of the men at the top of the main party tickets. Never mind the VP candidates for now.

Executive Summary: I do not consider Obama suitable for the job. I worry about McCain’s attitudes towards government’s roles. Neither of them (and probably no human being) is going to be adequate to meet the challenges of the next few years.

  • His opposition to the anti-infanticide law tells me something ugly about Obama’s character

    He voted to oppose Illinois legislation (explicitly written to not restrict abortion) designed to protect infants born alive despite an abortion. He was the only Senator to speak against it. The same measure passed the US Senate without opposition.

    Even if one stipulated that abortion was a right and not an evil, failing to recognize any limits to it even beyond birth shows at the very best an execrable lack of judgment.

    This is a showstopper. But to continue:

  • The frequency with which Obama voted “Present” tells me something unhappy about his courage.

    While it is true that voting “Present” isn’t likely to satisfy either the supporters or opponents of some law, it is generally possible to weasel an explanation that at least keeps them from opposing you when you need votes or money.

    The best spin I can think of to put on this is that either he was trying to make some statement about the insignificance of some particular bill or that he was admitting that he hadn’t had time to understand the ramifications of it. The first case doesn’t survive inspection: the best way to make a statement is to say it. The second case is no excuse—we know the job isn’t possible, that’s why we pay for staff to assist the legislators.

  • The associates Obama has chosen and the environment he chose tell me something unpleasant about his vision of America.

    Wright’s sermons, and Ayers’ unrepentant hatreds—and for that matter, the very grants that Obama and Ayers helped distribute—for things like teaching mathematics with a social justice theme (a perversion reminiscent of the “Marxist biology” of the Soviet empire)—are part of a world-view of class warfare (and race warfare) that hopes for the destruction of order in favor of some earthly paradise. When whitey is suppressed, or when the corporations are controlled by the state, then comes the millennium of: Well, we know where that goes.

    You don’t have to pretend that our current system is perfect to judge that this kind of solution is worse than the disease.

What does Obama plan? Standard Democratic Party boilerplate. What history has he of “bridging divides?” None. “He will be transformational.” Transform to what: frogs or princes? “Change” Is it for better or worse? One of the top lessons of the 20’th century is: Things can always be made worse.

Tomaso wrote on his blog that he believed electing Obama would heal divisions between the US and Italy; that the governments would be more cooperative. I admit I know little of Italian politics, but I suspect he knows less than he thinks he does. Italy will follow its own interests, exactly as before. Electing Obama would bring a brief “thrill” in the world, which would last about a day as newspapers went “happy happy joy joy.” Next day would be business as usual, as they discovered to their horror that he was President of the United States.

I was flabbergasted to find him advocating the invasion of Pakistan. I notice he backtracked in a hurry, but he’s pretty careless. If he actually believes his own press releases about the value of negotiations he’s more of a fool than I take him for. He should have learned enough from Alinsky to know better.

McCain has a long history, with some blemishes such as campaign finance reform (Incumbent Protection Act).

He seems to have no notion of why the Mexico border needs attention, though to be fair almost nobody else seems to be paying it more than lip service either. You’d think with the economy the way it is there’d be some awareness of the risks, but with so many special interests looking to garner cheap labor and cheap votes I suspect nothing much will happen until the demagogues start in—and it’ll be pretty late by then.

He seems to be quite comfortable with an ever-expanding state. Obama is eager for one, so the advantage is to McCain, but not with enthusiasm.

I gather he didn’t understand the strategic significance of Iraq in the war, though at least he understands what’s involved in conducting a campaign, which is more than Obama did. I get the impression from Obama’s various statements that he doesn’t have any clear ideas about the war. Somebody needs to sit him down and teach him some history—wars are typically not short, and asymmetrical warfare requires just as much attention as big tank battles. We’re in for a century or so of what Kipling called “The Great Game,” and we need to know how to keep our eye on the ball.

Neither candidate seems to have a clear plan for what the economy needs—which is probably good since I suspect nobody knows. I suspect McCain will be more careful about signing laws to tinker with the banking system than Obama; and we’ll need restraint. If the US effectively owns the main banks, can you imagine any scenario in which Congress won’t be trying to implement pet projects through bank rules? Me either.

McCain’s history is consistent with someone who (right or wrong) goes with what he thinks is correct and not with convenience or party. Obama’s history is too short to be absolutely sure, but there’s no sign of any willingness to buck the party so far.

Even leaving aside the showstopper, Obama isn’t someone I want in office. McCain, though far from perfect, is far better.

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