Thursday, January 17, 2008

Move along, no ideas here, nothing to see

The pale pissweak presidential hopefuls from both sides of the aisle offer little hope for anything of any stature to emerge from this year's presidential contest.  With so much at stake -- recession looming; monetary meltdown; the Islamofascist threat -- instead of a lion emerging from the political thickets of the primaries, there are only mealy-mouthed mice.  Even the victory speeches are marked by platitudes.  "Washington is broken," said Mitt Romney in winning the GOP's Michigan primary, "and we're going to do something about it.  Tonight marks the beginning of a comeback, a comeback for America."  What on earth does that mean?  Never have words so flatulent been used in a contest so seemingly important. 

It's no less vapid however than the racist wisecracks and empty sparring about 'gender politics' going on in the Democratic race -- anything it seems than confront anything meaningful.  Michael Hurd considers what all this emptiness means and `concludes that is "an election about nothing."

When candidates abandon political and philosophical ideas, the focus, in elections, tends to be on the "horse race" aspect. It becomes an election of men (or women) rather than of great ideas and issues. The Democratic race is par for the course in this respect. What's striking, however, is the Republican race. Thus far, it consists of a damn poor horse race among a few little men: McCain, Romney, and Huckabee. Each claims to be whatever the voting audience in question seems to demand of him--and none are very good at it. This is why none of them are winning, and each one comes out the victor in a different primary race. The voters realize--and I suspect the candidates themselves even sense--that none of them deserves the nomination, much less the American Presidency. These men are no Thomas Jefferson or George Washington. They're no Ronald Reagan, either. Why, they're not even Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. They're simply ... nothing. In the race for President, the Republicans--as the nominal party of limited government and strong defense in the face of terrorist attacks--ought to be the party of ideas and principle. Instead, they have withered away into irrelevance. It’s hard to believe any one of these three little men will achieve victory within their Party, much less within the nation in the fall.

He's right, isn't he.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

(1) Media coverage has been god awful in the US. The talking heads merely report who is ahead in the polls and why they think that is the case.

(2) The debates are a joke because there are so many candidates, each has only enough time to talk in sound bites or counter another's argument with a wise-crack. So you won't get any sense out of them.

(3) The Primary cycle is so fast this year, there isn't enough time to really grill a candidate. In essence, the candidates can get away with talking in cliches because there is so much going on.

Observe the Democrat side where it is a two horse race. Hillary's and Obama have laid out a lot more concrete by comparison.

(4) Many of the voters like being talked to in cliches. I heard several Huckabee supporters on Limbaugh's show declare that they were voting for him because he was a hunk.

Women often tell me that women choose who to vote for differently than men. To which I reply "Yes, but they pay the same taxes." Sometimes that makes a mark, sometimes it doesn't.

(5) Guliani and Thompson in particular are picking their battles and although they are dogged by reporters, the reporters aren't covering them as much. Thus the 'minnows' appear ahead even though after three primaries less than 10% of the 'delegates' that will decide this thing have been awarded.

(6) The real fun (Dems vs Repub.) will not start for several months in which time the situation with the hot button issues (Iraq and the economy) may change.

(7) I'm not entirely sure that the 'recession' is inevitable. The press are doing their usual 'the world will end tomorrow' horse shit.

But I note that in one day, the Dow recovered 50% of losses it suffered the previous day -- when my co-worker proclaimed "The Stock Market has Crashed" in her best Chicken Little voice.

Which is to say that many people know they are doing well but are seriously worried about their neighbour - who is doing the same thing about them. This sort of latent hysteria is contagious. But if good news prevails from Iraq and the next tax bill is low, who is to say things won't continue on as they are?

US Employment is low, manufacturing is high. And except for States like Michigan where Unions and govt intervention have screwed up the manufacturing markets - all seems OK. A despite gas priced in the $2.50 a gallon range, Trucks are out-selling Prius' etc.

(Basically because the $20K Prius doesn't get any better gas mileage then my $10K Kia Rio, but there you go.)

A snap shot from the ground in the USA. :)

1/17/2008 05:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Robert Winefield said...

I should add, that with the exception of McCain (or should I say McKennedy) everyone of these candidates is a rookie Presidential candidate. Each are trying to out manouver the other without alienating one or another segment of the electorate. They are chasing the undecideds (who can vote in these initial primaries - but not the later ones).

And with the amount of money being spent and with the speed it is getting spent, you are seeing candidates campaigning safely. That is, attempting to say something without saying too much.

That, and the race for the nomination hasn't really heated up yet. New Hampshire, Michigan and Iowa are small beans.

That said, for all the 24 hour news stations on TV, for all the talk back radio shows, you're really better off reading the blogs to get the low down on the candidates. The reportage has been THAT bad.

But it is early days yet to declare that this election has no substantive candidates.

Your point that none has yet grown a big enough pair to start talking about something is well taken though and has not been lost on the likes of Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk back radio shows who command a massive Republican audience.

It is entirely possible that the nature of the campaigning will change. Whether the issues discussed will be to your liking or mine is another thing entirely.

1/17/2008 05:32:00 pm  
Blogger Duncan Bayne said...

The Primary cycle is so fast this year, there isn't enough time to really grill a candidate.

If only they'd use flamethrowers .......

1/17/2008 05:50:00 pm  
Blogger Elijah Lineberry said...

I think South Carolina and Florida will be interesting.

Romney is deluding himself if he thinks last night was a 'comeback'.

Look for McCain to win South Carolina with Huckabee second (more or less finishing off Thompson) and a similiar situation in Florida (finishing off Romney)

I am still committed to my $1000 wager on President McCain and Vice President Huckabee taking office in 1 year and 3 days time.

1/17/2008 06:25:00 pm  
Blogger bdarnton said...

Armando Iannucci of the Observer agrees.

[Obama's rhetoric] declares that together we can do anything but doesn't mention any of the things we can do.

And then ...

American politicians take time out from their busy lives to make speeches that sound empty.

British politicians fill the emptiness of their lives with words that make them sound busy.

1/18/2008 08:32:00 am  

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