Oh Drama! 2012. By Owen Grey.
A Presidential race has the tedious tendency to develop into a lengthy and uninspiring event. I felt the buzz when John Kerry challenged George W. Bush for the Presidency in 2004 and who can forget the closest of Presidential races in 2000, when it took a Supreme Court to rule in favour of ‘W’. By 2008, I was experiencing two delights- the close race for the Democratic nomination between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton (what made it interesting for me was that I had backed Clinton, believing she had it all tied up!) The second such delight involved the actual presidential race; McCain & Palin vs. Obama & Biden. Both sides naturally dabbled in the usual election blunder or two. On September 9th 2008, Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden asked wheelchair-bound Missouri State Senator, Chuck Graham, to ‘stand up and let the people see him’ at a rally. Biden obviously did not believe he was the Messiah and, along with his pal Obama, constituted the second coming (although, American political rhetoric can sometimes attempt to climb such heights) He simply made a typical gaffe, highlighting how hot air makes a red face. Mr McCain couldn’t resist either- on October 30th 2008, he asked ‘Joe the Plumber’ to make himself known to a crowd in Ohio. Joe the Plumber was one Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who had questioned Obama earlier in the race over his small business tax policy. When Obama stated that sharing the wealth helped everybody, the McCain-Palin campaign seized the chance to make Obama out to be the socialist incarnate, the enemy of middle class Americans. But on October 30th, in Ohio, Wurzelbacher had disappeared and McCain was forced to rescue his speech by declaring that everyone in the crowd was Joe the Plumber, hoping to initiate a mass-jump up and down, noise-making euphoria. The result of the election was no surprise, Obama was cool, calm, young and of course African American. Given the controversy of the Bush years, many Americans cannot be blamed for breaking with the Republicans and reaffirming their multicultural, world-loving credentials. America would no longer be seen as the evangelical wager of war, but more the liberal, multilateral, almost ‘Clintonesque’ America it once was… or so it was believed and hoped by some.
In 2000, a Bush victory clearly meant a return to realism- specifically a unilateral, Clausewitzian one. It was hoped by many conservatives that the incoming Administration would wipe away the indecisive nation building of the Clinton era and enhance American hegemony. Of course, after eight years of Bush and the Neocons, we now know that did not come to fruition entirely. 9/11 and Iraq stood in the way of the ‘Reagan reloaded’ project. In 2004, John Kerry challenged Bush’s post-9/11 style of governance. Kerry had his flaws, his time in the Vietnam Veterans against the War movement –VVAW- came back to haunt him, but he offered a different direction for America, one determined to break from Bush. Prior to the 2008 election, it was clear that Obama would turn America away from its Neocon course. In government however, he has kept Guantanamo Bay open but withdrawn troops from Iraq, thus showing the complexity of the break and how naive his remarks possibly were. Nevertheless he offered a break and a conviction to steer America away from the Straussian influenced Neocons.
Now we come to 2012 and the ever-increasing chance that an Obama vs. Romney race is in the offing. Romney is, quite frankly, not presidential material. The only substantial move he has made has been his smile. He does not please the Tea Party; he even makes mainstream conservatives hesitate before giving their approval. He has not offered any stark break with the Obama Administration and seems to entirely rely on his wealth and his want for the job to get him over the finishing line. I am not a committed Obama supporter, but I am certainly not a Republican supporter given the poor field of Grand Old Party candidates. Santorum is a religious zealot, a man only fit for governance in Medieval Europe. He offers no future of aspiration, rather a path of fervent religious indignation. Newt Gingrich is too busy with the conquest of space. His grimace reminds me of arch-Bond villain, Hugo Drax and his plan to build a moon base will probably be just that, a plan. America, of course, must keep up with Russian and Chinese desires to explore the Moon and the Solar System, but it has substantial debt to tackle first. Ron Paul, for all his libertarian magnetism and debt cutting fervour believes ardently in isolationism. The isolationism he desires has no place in a globalised 21st century world. America must work with its NATO partners to meet the challenges and threats posed by those who seek to undermine and subvert the authority of democratic and peaceful states. The world can only prosper with a stable democracy- naturally; the dream is to witness democracy in all states of the world. We know this has little chance of coming to fruition in the immediate future, but Ron Paul’s rigid isolationism would threaten the territorial integrity of those states on the long path to democracy and give malignant dictators, or in Gingrich’s case, Sith Lords, the chance to pursue their wicked desires. For Perry, Bachmann, Huntsman, Cain and the other withdrawn candidates, all I can say is ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’.
Although Obama is in no way perfect, he’s better than Romney and the other Republican hopefuls. Some have compared him to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and even Republican George H.W. Bush. Whilst the former makes me wince, the latter two I can live with. You may think I’ve been fooled by Barack’s smooth nature and slick oratory, but I have not. I recoil like you at some of things he has said and some of the policies he has advocated, but if I had a vote… I would vote for Obama, because Romney seems incapable of fulfilling the duties of President, Gingrich resembles Darth Sidious, Santorum’s a mad monk and Paul would rather sit in a corner, by himself, talking to a wall and shouting at flies.