Monday, 6 October 2008

Confession of an Obama agnostic

November is looming and McCain's White House bid is failing - surely we are witnessing the end of the Bush/Republican years and the dawning of a bright new world where the Messiah leads us all into peace and prosperity?

Right, better start with a terrible confession - I'm not that fussed about Obama.

There, I've said it. Obamabots across the globe (and beyond - I believe he is the first truly intergalactic super-politician) will have collectively gasped (at exactly the same time in a slightly cultish manner) at my apostasy before returning to chanting the 99 forms of change in a hypnotic manner. It's not that I've sold out to the Dark Side and become a Republican, although I do have a lot of time for John McCain and Sarah Palin is kinda attractive in a school marm/librarian type way (although that's reason enough to vote against her - politics is meant to be reserved for us ugly folk who can't do anything else!). Nope, I wouldn't be voting for them even given the chance. And to be fair, I thought Obama's speech at the Convention was good, outlining some useful policy and fleshing out his 'change' thing a bit more.

It's just that I don't get the whole Obama=Jesus, Buddha and Tony the Tiger rolled into one. I am a Clintonista, so admit to some bias in this. But still, I struggle to see how he is quite so popular. Admittedly coming after Bush would make anyone popular but much of the other adulation seems a bit misguided. Having watched the first Presidential debate, I thought he was passable at best. McCain was terrible too, probably worse, but I thought Obama, for such a gifted speaker, was stilted and hesitant.

Will he win? Yes, barring a major terrorist incident/foreign policy crisis. Do I want him to win? Yeah, but more by default than through a deep rooted conviction that he is the best man for the job. Of course, when in post he would surround himself with talented experts who would make up for his own lack of experience. And certainly his elevation will help to repair some of the damage down to America's image over the past eight years in a manner which McCain couldn't.

But I am not convinced that it will be the Messianic arrival which so many people are expecting. He has limited experience, has done little of note in the Senate and essentially has a primetime career rooted in his speech at the Democratic Convention four years ago (don't get me wrong, it was a nice speech, but...). I've been told he's attractive but don't see it myself - but to be fair, we'd all be more worried if I did! His message is rooted in a desire for change - a very effective tool for beating Hillary in the primaries and which has helped to set the tone for the general election. However, it is still rather unclear quite what this 'change' means, other than a change from one political party to another. He is proud of his bipartisan work, which is greatly to be welcomed, especially if it can actually be sustained in office (remember when GW was all for bipartisan working?). But in reality the bipartisanship is pretty limited, with McCain having at least as good a claim to it as Obama does, if not better. So all in all, not necessarily the most impressive C.V. for becoming the most powerful man on the planet.

With an increase likely in Democratic control of both the Senate and the House, the party will have an incredibly strong chance to set the agenda and implement their policy. But in itself this will give the GOP the chance to fight back, pointing out every liberal utterance from the White House and/or Congress to remotivate a disillusioned core. This election marks a pause for breath in the ongoing fight for the US - the Republicans expect to lose so any gains will be massive shocks. Presuming the shocks are absent, President Obama will enter the White House with a chance to change his country, and by default the world. But his opponents will be waiting, and someone elevated to such a high pedestal has a greater distance to fall.


Mil said...

The whole process is awfully gigantic, isn't it? All that money, all those teams of advisers. You always did like Hillary. As soon as Palin was chosen, I thought: "That's because of Hillary." But to be fair to the Clintons - they rose above it. Great to see you on the Internet. It's hard work but it can be a collective act too. And that's where the Labour Party - at its best - truly shines.

Kentigern said...

Thanks Mil, you are right about the importance of collective work. It's what sustains me in the Party when I have less motivated points!

Palin was a reaction to Hillary and to the indifference of the conservative base. Personally, I think it was the best move that McCain could make and for a short period looked like it might have saved his campaign. However, that magical quality known as momentum is still with Obama and makes him virtually unstoppable - evidence, if needed, is in the realistic chance of a Democratic Presidential candidate winning states such as North Carolina, Indiana or Colorado.

Yousuf Hamid said...

I understand as a Hilary supporter imagination may not be a strong point (!!) but how's this for a name for you guys.. obamagnostics?

Kentigern said...

Goodness, being slagged off by someone who is happy to be considered an Obamabot - whatever is the world coming to?!? =)

You are right though, Obamabots do have better imaginations - you need to in order to be able to pretend that there are any coherent policies underlying the 'change' thing...