Monday, November 21, 2011


Republican Candidates Do Not Impress

Back in May Gary Younge observed that to be a credible presidential candidate within the Republican Party meant you had to be too off the wall to hack it with the rest of the voters. His current piece argues that this is still fundamentally the case. He looks at the recent performances of some of the candidates and notes how accuracy and knowledge has been devalued, just as they have in the form of scurrilous ideas about Obama were believed as gospel truth by so many on the US right:

Polls last year showed a majority of Republicans believed Obama was a Muslim and a socialist who "wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one-world government"; two-thirds either believed or were not sure if the president is "a racist who hates white people", and over half believed or were not sure if "he was not born in the US" and "wants the terrorists to win".

Never mind that the Ground Zero mosque was neither a mosque nor situated at Ground Zero, or that the foreign-born Muslim Obama is actually an American-born Christian. Facts didn't matter, So nor did lies.M

He thinks Herman Cain's disregard for not knowing things is symptomatic of his party as a whole. It doesn't matter if, like most of your voters, you don't know; getting the message, whether right or wrong, practicable or impossible, it doesn't matter. As Romney and Gingrich shed their moderate, sensible views to woo the Tea Partiers, Younge thinks the good, sensible, able candidates are sitting this one out while the GOP undergoes its convulsions. He concludes:

None of this means Republicans cannot win. Incompetence, ignorance and disingenuity are no barriers to elected office. In the only televised debate for the 2010 gubernatorial elections in Arizona, a swing state, the Republican incumbent, Jan Brewer, stopped halfway through her opening statement, stared blankly into the camera, and started giggling. She won by 12 clear points and enjoyed a 19% increase in her vote. Obama sold the nation on hope and has presided over despair. It's because the Republicans have been so dysfunctional that he still has a shot. It's because he has delivered so little that their dysfunctionality may not matter. The stakes are high, the standards are low, and the choice is paltry.

The US political machine seems to be grinding to a dysfunctional halt. I don't know whether to be amused or alarmed.

With the so-called Super Committee unable to agree any austerity measures, they seem to be in a worse state that the EU and, on most measures, are even deeper in debt.

I feel sorry for their young people who were so entranced by Mr Obama and who believed he would work wonders - they must be as disillusioned as all the British ones who were hoodwinked into voting Lib Dem...

(But at least the latter horror permits me a wry chuckle. My daughter's boyfriend (if such an ancient word still be allowed), who considers me hopelessly to the right, voted for them. Alas he did so in a Manchester Lib-Lab marginal, along with several other students, and the ratbags thus stole the seat from us.

He swears (literally) that he won't vote for them ever again.)
With the greatest respect, Skipper - does it actually matter?

To misquote Eric Hobsbawm, only in America could a president who was a charismatic genius be succeeded by an unknown moron without making the slightest difference to the course of history. Although personally I think he was very unfair on Truman and very generous to Johnson in making that assessment.

If Barack Obama, who came into office with a huge landslide, iconic status, a broad-based government and an enormous crisis offering cover to him to act as he saw fit cannot achieve anything meaningful, or even purely symbolic (think Guantanamo) what is the risk that a Republican idiot will make the slightest difference either?

Of course, that has horrible implications for the rest of us given the dire mess the US (or should that be u/s) economy and welfare systems are in and how badly they need sorting out. But equally it does suggest that even if worst came to the worst and some complete nut is elected, there is a limit to the damage they can do over and above what would likely have happened even had they elected a second Seneca or Madison.
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