It’s electing the America you want time. I want Barack Obama to be Prez, but more on this later. This moment the concern is Republican running-mate to John McCain, Alaskan Sarah Palin. US liberals, and their European fellow-travellers, have apparently, gone “berserk” about her. To Nick Cohen they have poured supercilious scorn on her Hillbilly faith, and show “sexual disgust” for the ‘hockey mom’. Ugg. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/07/uselections2008.republicans2008 Well I suppose I’m not a lone figure but I’d like a lot more disgust. That woman is the kind who, when her own mother visits, charges her full board and lodging. Frankly the Republicans have gone for broke in selecting a Christianist on their ticket. If they win McCain will preside over exactly the kind of regime that will bolster the super in any lefty’s -ciliousness. And, no Dave Osler, even the masochist in me doesn’t fancy her at all.
No doubt this will go through the wash as the world’s news media covers this election to saturation point. The cultural cringe that leads these folk to ape US expressions, such as “you guys” (which manages the feat of being both sexist and banal), and weighs down their prose with the leaden (redundant in English) participle ‘gotten’, are but signs of a deeply boring interest in everything political-US. Instead of the wit of Buffy-speak and the Simpsons we get the Mayor of Houndstown. on the mortgage crisis and the greatness of the American Dream
Not that we should sneer too much. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1856 of a land of people of “invincible stoutness”, “saving stupidity”, and “insular limitation”. Life there was ruled by business, “political economy”. Everyone had a bombastic “good opinion” of the country. The essay was called English Traits It makes you wonder if there’s a meme to explore here: each imperial hegemon reproduces the same characteristics. .
What really is at stake in the Presidential elections is US exit strategy from Iraq and the international role of the US. Both candidates claim to offer a new start. Obama promises to withdraw. McCain talks of this “with honour”. But he remains wedded to such interventions. Jeffery Goldberg writes, “Nothing in his experience, recent or not-so-recent, has moved him away from his essential belief that the president has a duty to confront perceived threats well before they reach American shores.” http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200810/mccain/5 McCain could therefore militarily menace Iran. He builds on Phillip Bobbitt’s idea (Terror and Consent. 2008) of “preclusion” (preventing hostile states acquiring weapons of mass destruction) and the war against terrorism. Any President will, obviously, try to maintain US global dominance. Some veer to co-operation (liberals and pro-Americans’ preference) others to unilateralism; a choice not really about policies, but essentially between politeness and rudeness. What marks McCain out is that by these views he has not clearly renounced the type of catastrophic adventures of the Bush years.
Some are so sickened by the amoral cheer-leading for Islamicists by a minority of the anti-war movement that they have forgotten what a disaster the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been. That is, the horrendous death-toll, by occupiers and sectarian killers, the sheer misery faced by millions of Iraqis, and the legacy of organised thieving, Western-led, carried out under the Allies’ disaster capitalism. Across the planet the blood-stained forces of Islamic reaction have been strengthened. The justifications for toppling the Baathists, that it would replace Saddam’s tyranny with a solid legal structure and civil society, have unravelled. There is a parody of democracy, dominated by kleptocrats and religious-ethnic factionalism, better able to serve global corporations than its own people.
It is unlikely that Obama will resolve these problems – how could he? Nor that McCain will be more than marginally worse in organising a pull-out. The important point is what conclusions they draw for the future: to continue ‘preclusion’ or drop it.
Why back Obama then? Every time I hear Republicans say that he is “not ready” for political power, like some English toff talking about the natives in Colonial times, my hackles rise. I would like to see Obama elected because of his ethnic background. Tough luck if that’s identity politics.