Thursday, October 30, 2008

Guest blog: Ed Reynolds (2 of 2)

The US campaign is very frustrating to me.

Eight years ago, McCain hobbled out of the GOP primaries utterly disspirited with politics after one of the most savage and shameful campaigns in modern history -- you know, the one where the bully-boys bankrolled by Bush 41 spread it about that McCain had a 'black baby' (the kid he adopted) and that he was mentally unstable after his incarceration. I don't think he expected to run again and I'm sort of surprised that he has.

I don't agree with McCain on a slew of issues from the EU to abortion rights but I do think he would have made a decent president once. His judgment on the surge was impeccable, and he think his views are in general more reasonable than it's prudent for him to say. As a one-term president, not accountable to a party machine, or even a two-term president bold enough to try and forge a personal following that would allow him to give two fingers to the corrupt party machine -- lot of potential.

But it's creepy to see him now in the pocket of these people who slandered him, these people who behind close doors utterly despise him, paid for by a sitting president who has more than once used him as a punchline. I just kind of wish now they'd chosen one of the suicide candidates like Huckabee. The party deserves to melt down, it deserves to have to rethink itself from first principles and see Bush's fiscal irresponsibility and social tub-thumping as the cause of its ills.

Instead, McCain will lose the election by being 8 years late, the lesson most likely won't be learnt. And I think Obama will win.

Now, Obama in office doesn't fill me with enthusiasm. I think it will be great for America's self-confidence to have a black president and put some sense of closure on a history of terrible race relations in America; it sounds airy-fairy, but confidence and optimism are powerful things particularly in a depression when gloom can breed caution and caution can breed more gloom.

But as far as I can tell his economic policies suck. A windfall tax on oil -- watch as the companies pass this straight onto consumers; effectively, it's a tax on the poorest disguised as a tax on the richest. He plans reforms to make America more protectionist -- a catastrophe. His labour initiatives sound great in a recession but will discourage employers from employing and expanding and so will worsen the downturn. Roosevelt managed to kickstart a short-term revival in the 30s with tax and spend but the "spend" has just been spent and I don't think "tax" is a great stimulus package. Besides, what ultimately cured the US under FDR was WW2 bolstering the army hugely while acting as a global advert for American products.

My expectations are low, but I just hope he seizes the mantle on social issues and gets a good shot at some Supreme Court nominations so he can secure abortion rights for the next generation.

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