Friday, February 22, 2008

American Zeitgeist

Watching and trying to interpret the American Zeitgeist as we wend our way to the Presidential election is hugely exciting. I was here during the election of Bill Clinton and can remember the sense of unrestrained optimism that eddied around the dinner tables and parlors of my friends. No British or Irish election had ever generated such a sense of expectation times squared, no make that tripled.

It must be acknowledged Bill Clinton did deliver and I have often wondered why Ronald Regan is lauded still by many as the president who swept America to a new prosperity. They forget the heartless policies behind this trickle down economic "success" and forget conveniently that Bill Clinton left this country with a surplus when his time finished. The current administration, conservative it proudly heralds, has spent more than any Democratic administration in memory. Why is this not being shouted from the roof tops? Why are conservative Republicans with a small 'c' not being more vociferous and still leery of Democrats as being the party of 'Big Government?' I can't understand.

But back to the current primaries. It's certain now that John McCain will be the Republican nominee and Huckabee (and Chuck Norris) are now only in the running in order to secure their name on the ticket as Vice President.

I could not vote for him because he is 'out to pasture' on the war, but one thing I truly admire about McCain is his stance on earmarks--favorite wish lists that senators try to slip into legislation no matter how unrelated to their project; in other words pork barrel politics. McCain is right to want to end their use and, to be fair to him, he has not sought any while Clinton and Obama have made use of the practice. Clinton and Obama are silent about that. This must be noted. (It will be interesting to see how the 'affair' with a lobbyist that's been reported by The New York Times plays out, because there's no smoke without fire.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's race is of a very different color. I find myself swinging back and forth, torn between Obama's call for change and Clinton's cry that she has the experience. My gut feel is that an amalgam of the two would be superb. But that we can't have.

Who to choose?
Zeitgeist suggests that Barack Obama has a decided edge and this is conformed by the fact that ex-pats eligible to vote in the primaries have also given him the edge. Americans are angry with the current administration and are clamoring for real change. They don't want talk. They want it to occur. He's a visionary leader--in other words he presents what he believes America wants like say Roosevelt and 'The New Deal', seeking consensus among the competing interests, leaving it for the 'managers' to implement the policies and hold them utterly accountable. Hillary, on the other hand, managers from the 'top down' and gets involved in every aspect. I don't think that works because we've tried that and it didn't work.

Can Obama deliver? This is the elephant in the room. His handling of the nuclear power issue in his own back yard would not seem to suggest he can wield the sort of change Americans are seeking. his bill got diluted and he accepted it; worrying when one considers it was on an issue of health and safety.

Given this, is the question of experience then not more important than the change the direction of this country. Is it experience that is necessary to navigate the ship of state through the shark-infested waters in order to achieve some achievable change.

I don't know the answer. The reservations I have are: Hillary Clinton is NOT talking about change in the way Barack Obama is talking about it and she is not talking about reigning in corporate greed; And Barack Obama, contrary to what he says, may not be able to get sensible Republicans to work with him as is vitally needed for the good of this country in order to achieve the change the country wants desperately. He didn't seem to pass the challenge in Illinois and that worries me. Washington is a meaner, tougher game, one where he could easily be sidelined for four years.

I am also annoyed at her juvenile attempt to accuse Obama of plagiarism because he borrows from the speeches of others. Come on!!! All politicians do that. It is unfitting for a woman of Clinton's caliber and education to resort to such silliness, and the fact she is angering the voters here suggests she is insulting their intelligence. It highlights that she is threatened by his oratory and suggests her campaign is in crisis.

Drop it and move on to discuss your vision, Hilary. Let the people do their job and decide which is the better of the two.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i couldn't agree with you more!