neljapäev, jaanuar 03, 2008

meanwhile, in iowa

UPDATE: Well it looks like Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are the winners tonight. As you may have sensed from reading below, I feel pretty ambivalent about the presidential candidates on both sides, though I feel the Democrats have superior candidates. I am really glad I am not an Iowa voter who had to be first to choose.

But Obama's "victory" seems a tad misleading. In the end each of the top three candidates got around a third of the vote, which actually tells us very little. I am glad there's a race though. If Clinton had waltzed right through the nomination process, I probably would have tuned out all together.

As for the Republicans, it appears that for the first time since 1976 there will neither be a Bush nor a Dole on the ticket. Or maybe Huckabee will choose Neil Bush as his running mate. Who knows.

****

I haven't written much about the US presidential election this year because a) this is a blog about Eestimaa and b) I haven't paid that much attention to the topics of Barack Obama's Kindergarten essays. But it's on the global mind, so why not discuss it.

To understand my perspective, you must grasp that I am 28-years-old, and the first presidential election I recall with crisp, almost like yesterday clarity, was between George Herbert Walker Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988.

That is to say that the contests of 1972 (Nixon versus McGovern) or 1980 (Reagan versus Carter) don't weigh heavily on my mind. And in some ways that might endear me to Senator Barack Obama, because he too has been calling for a new American dialog that isn't stuck in 1968.

But for me, the most important factor is foreign policy experience, and for that reason, even though I like Senator Obama, if I was in Iowa I would *probably* be supporting Hillary Clinton. I used to like the relatively youthful Clintons in the '90s. Like I said, my country was run by Ronald Reagan, a man who was older than my grandfather, until I was 10 years old. But overtime I have tired of them, Chelsea, Socks the Cat, discussion of Bill's extramarital affairs, and, who could forget the Bridge to the 21st Century? Yuck.

But still, Hillary perhaps has the greatest experience. Among the Democrats I would trust her decisions over Senators Obama and Edwards because quite frankly, Hillary spent eight years traveling from country to country to meet and great the global elite. Hillary's done shots in Estonia. Hillary has visited the hospital where my first daughter was born in Tallinn.

I don't necessarily feel a strong affinity for her, nor do I enjoy listening to her speeches, but I do not fear her or find her incompetent. She's been my Senator for the past seven years and partially due to her political sensibilities and partially due to the disorganization of the New York Republican Party, she managed to do her job with limited criticism. Some have criticized her as "too liberal", but Hillary was once upon atime a supporter of Barry Goldwater.

This is not an endorsement of her, and I am actually quite torn between Clinton, Edwards, and Obama, but if I got in that tent, foreign policy experience would be on my mind.

In terms of the Republican side, their party is undergoing a period of disarray, mostly due to Bush's policies, but also due to generational changes in the party. The Republican generation of 1994 -- Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum -- has aged out of office. The "Contract with America" is done. The days of "America, applie pie, and Oliver North" are aged and sepia-toned.



So who is best to lead this motley crew of religious conservatives, 'don't tread on me' gun owners, Wall Street investment bankers, and 'blow 'em all to hell' foreign policy hawks?

The short answer is that I have no idea. I will say that in 2000 I went door-to-door in New Hampshire on behalf of Sen. Bill Bradley and of all the Republican voters I met, the John McCain supporters were the most convincing. That's not to say that Yankee Republicans aren't terrifying in their own 'fire and brimstone' way. But I respected them. I cannot say as much of the New Hampshire Bush supporters who chased me off their lawn.

Another "Yankee Republican" is Rudy Giuliani -- 'America's mayor.' People credit Giuliani for cleaning up New York City. It's endearing to see an Italian-American do so well. And yet Rudy's tenure at Gracie Mansion in New York was riddled by a police brutality scandals not to mention his high profile divorce from Donna Hanover and his use of police escorts for his then mistress, now wife Judith Nathan. There's just so much "New York only" political baggage to Giuliani that I just don't see him winning the nomination. In New York he could win, but in New Mexico? No.

A final Yankee Republican is Mitt Romney. His religious beliefs (he's a Mormon, a follower of a religious sect founded by a New York treasure finder in the 1820s after he translated golden plates written in "Reformed Egyptian" text) have raised eyebrows among some, but we'll leave that aside to just say that Romney can't even win his own state -- Massachusetts -- and he was never really popular there (he served one term).

In terms of the others, everybody loves Ron Paul. I liked Ralph Nader in 2000 too. I mean he was a wonk. He asked plenty of great questions. And in the end we wound up with George W. Bush. Paul has around $20 million in his "war chest" -- I have read that he may launch an independent campaign. Then there's Mike Huckabee. He's from Arkansas and enjoys preparing red meat to feed to religious conservatives during stump speeches. I have nothing else to say about him.

So if I was in the Republican tent, I'd probably have to choose McCain based on my foreign policy concerns. After all, it was McCain who did shots in Tallinn with Hillary.

18 kommentaari:

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

How should a woman in politics act to get a chance in the States? Is there any alternative way to go to become a (female) president? I doubt there are any.
Old boy politics.

I remember when I was waiting in the central station in Berlin. Bush versus Gore: A big screen was bringing the news. Two Afroamericans were dissapointed: "Americans don't like intelectuals as president." That was their conclusion.

andres k ütles ...

The "experience" argument slaps me as a false one.

As Jon Stewart (rhetorically) asked a guest a few months ago, do they really count first lady as real experience?

Moreover, Hillary Clinton's ostensible experience didn't serve her very well since she voted for the Iraq War, and stuck to that position rather doggedly. Same goes for McCain, who, during a securitized shopping trip in a market, declared things in Iraq swell... whilst bombs went off and Iraqis died.

Both of them were old enough to know better.

Or maybe their Vana Tallinn was laced!

Giustino ütles ...

Moreover, Hillary Clinton's ostensible experience didn't serve her very well since she voted for the Iraq War, and stuck to that position rather doggedly.

From her perspective, it was an insignificant vote that would have passed without her or made her look "too liberal" if she didn't vote "yay". You'll recall John Kerry and Chuck Schumer also supporting that resolution.

When the Terri Schiavo scandal reared its head in Washington, Barack Obama kept a very low profile.

They're both politicians. What else can I say. As I wrote, I don't really like Hillary Clinton, but, perhaps out of sheer cynicism, it's hard for me to really buy "the audacity of hope" or believe that John Edwards can bring "the two Americas" together.

I personally like Obama better. But this country is packed with motivational speakers and, sorry to say, Obama and his "Oprah Tour" smelled a bit like Joel Osteen's "Be a Better You".

Same goes for McCain, who, during a securitized shopping trip in a market, declared things in Iraq swell... whilst bombs went off and Iraqis died.

Both of them were old enough to know better.


McCain is a politician too and one who supported the war. Of course he's going to tell us that everything is fine.

But look at the other candidates on the Republican side, who would you vote for? Maybe I would choose Giuliani after all. At least he would be the most entertaining. And he could have Bernard Kerik as his running mate!

Kristopher ütles ...

Outside of NYC, Giuliani is only a candidate for people who really really like watching shows like NYPD or the Sopranos or who still vaguely remember 9/11.

Huckabee is dangerous because he is the closest the Right has gotten to the perfect populist. I don't know, I find the idea of him scary.

Obama is a 1968 moment for 2008, without the bloodshed. A dream unfulfilled.

Clinton will win the nomination, November is too close to call.

I remember the Clinton years with nothing but fondness. It was an era of good feelings. Sure, they're crooked, but geopolitically a Clinton administration would be the most stable. It's not as if Obama would be able to avoid being duplicitous and compromising his principles once installed.

space_maze ütles ...

From her perspective, it was an insignificant vote that would have passed without her or made her look "too liberal" if she didn't vote "yay". You'll recall John Kerry and Chuck Schumer also supporting that resolution.

I do .. which made it very hard for me to get too enthusiastic about John Kerry in 2004.

Aside from all the obvious reasons for not wanting a republican president .. the *main* reason I want a non-republican president at the moment is to have a break from the policies of the Bush the Second years. Having a democratic candidate that sat aside during the Bush years, saying "uh, yeah, whatever" makes the democratic party a lot less credible as a "break" from the policies I want them to be replacing.

Mind you, I'd still vote both Clinton and Edwards over any Republican candidate that is likely to make it. The only Republican candidate that has things to say that are interesting to me is Ron Paul .. and he won't make it.

But it does make Obama the more ... wise, if not experienced ... of the lot if he was the only major democratic candidate who was as smart as I was, and could figure out that it was a bad idea.

When the Terri Schiavo scandal reared its head in Washington, Barack Obama kept a very low profile.

I cannot really blame him for this .. as there wasn't anything at stake here aside from polemics. The woman was, for all intents and purposes, dead.

Yes, there were more significant strands in it ... but they are way more morally ambiguous for me than the very simple idea of "don't start stupid wars".

space_maze ütles ...

Huckabee is dangerous because he is the closest the Right has gotten to the perfect populist. I don't know, I find the idea of him scary.

I can see his appeal. He is likeable, he plays bass guitar, he went from being your average obese American to being Mr. Healthy, he is on a religious wavelength with the overwhelming majority of the nation.

Which is, exactly, why he scares me.

plasma-jack ütles ...

discussion of Bill's extramarital affairs
[...]not to mention [Giuliani's] high profile divorce from Donna Hanover[...]


That's the thing within the U.S. politics that I don't understand. OK, I understand, but I don't approve. It's their private life, jeez. In Estonia, that kind of things offer interest only to the yellow press. The French attitude seem to be much healthier. Next thing you know, you'll be electing the guy to handle the nukes simply because he prefers hamburgers over pasta, or because he brushes his teeth five times a day.
From Estonian perspective, my list would be
1. Edwards
2. Clinton
3. McCain

Trek ütles ...

Hillary is my least favorite Dem. Only people I know that support her only do because they really want Bill back. I'm tired of our two party system controlled by two families. How much longer would that go on? Hillary for 8, Jeb for 8, Chelsea for 8. It could never end.

I'll take Richardson's foreign policy experience over Hillary's. He's gone out and gotten things done mediating hostage releases in the Middle East and been ambassador to the U.N. He's negotiated with some very bad people in some unfriendly countries. I'll take that experience over some photo-ops .

I'm not endorsing Richardson, I just think he's got more positive foreign policy credentials than Bill's wife Hillary.

I think the U.S. electing Obama president alone would send a pretty big foreign policy message out to the world. It would say the U.S. has chosen a new path. Don't expect the status quo any longer. We're going to open a dialogue with the world again. New ideas for a new age. With the right cabinet I think he'd do fine. After all, he's not becoming a King and ruling off the cuff with a heavy stick.

Edwards probably would be a safe choice. He's slick enough to make everyone feel better about things without actually changing much.

The Republicans have a much weaker field in my view. I can't get behind any of them. Ron Paul's domestic agenda makes a lot of sense from a purely capitalistic point of view, but his foreign policy ideas would be a disaster for countries like Estonia.

I can't stand Giuliani on so many levels.

McCain could do the job, but nothing much would change from the way it is now and I can't see him winning a second term.

Huckabee has all of zero foreign policy experience, unless you consider Arkansas to be a foreign country. He's heavily pro-Israel, anti-Cuban (couldn't find either on a map) and sees Jesus's image in his alphabet soup. And just say "President Huckabee" a few times out loud. His nomination would assure a Dem White House win.

I'm a registered Independent, but will very likely be voting Democrat this year. I just don't know who that will be yet.

Kristopher ütles ...

I would never vote for a presidential candidate who was a prisoner of war for five years, no matter what party.

I think it is a disqualifying factor, not just because of the nuclear button.

Give me a president named, say, Schmidt or Brown (because there haven't been presidents named that yet) with charm and a wry smile, a golden boy who has lived a sheltered life but embodies some all-American quality. He could be from Iowa (or Wisconsin) instead of being picked there.

Andres Sehr ütles ...

Obama is my choice, he's publicly stated that he'd work closely with the President of Canada. :)

In NY state ütles ...

Currently, the US is developing its own aristocratic, ruling elite that believes it is entitled just because.... Bush is a perfect representative of this class and every political action taken is to the advantage of this sector. Absolutely no bones are thrown to any other constituency.

And although Bush is the natural progression of political trends developing over the last 60 years (going back to Nixon's vice-presidency), no other President has been so brazen about such self-serving policies. Consequently, the political process has engendered a level of corruption not seen in a long, long time,

Not surprisingly, change seems to be the order of the day. And I would think that change would be a relief on the international stage as well.

However, I do not believe that Obama will bring much change, either doemstically or internationally. He may bring competence, but the current policy problems are not just issues of incompetent execution, but of the very policies enacted.

Obama is signaling bipartisanship, which at this point in time means capitulation, as the Republicans do NOT compromise, something the Democrats seem not to understand.

Clinton has the same problem. (As an aside, I believe that while not perfect, the Clintons are much cleaner than is generally acknowledge. Upon leaving office, they took out a mortgage for their new house. Reagan and Bush II have been given houses by supporters. Think about that. Not to mention the years and years of investigating Whitewater by at least 2 proscecutors and the only wrongdoing found was Monica.)

Edwards at least embraces the language of change and recognizes that entrenched interests will not just give up power. As a poor boy made-good, he does know how to fight.

It does not appear that any of the other Democrats have a chance.

All the Republicans are despicable because of the constituencies served. I remember Dole, a Republican I admired, was forced to recant much of what he believed in order to win the Republican nomination in 1996. I've watched McCain, Giuliani and Romney forced into the same pas de deux.

And Huckabee, although a maverick, has some real character issues. He released a convicted rapist because the victim was a Clinton relative. The rapist went on to kill two other women. Also his son was caught torturing dogs in his late teens. Huckabee tried to fire the man resposible for arresting his son.

Giustino ütles ...

That's the thing within the U.S. politics that I don't understand. OK, I understand, but I don't approve.

Americans, at least the ones I know, don't think like me when it comes to voting. For them, the "likability" factor is crucial. "To which one do I feel personally the closest?" or "With which one could I have a beer?" Womem judge their wives -- their haircuts, clothes, names trust me, they do.

I thought it was rather cool that Kerry's wife was Portuguese and could speak several languages. Apparently her foreign accent, not to mention her gaffes, was a'no no' in American politics.

So to them, the motivational stories of Obama, who believes in the audacity of hope, or Huckabee, who loves Christ and lost weight, are more attractive than, say, Bill Richardson's foreign policy experience.

Kristopher ütles ...

Many people thought Kerry himself was French and it was logical that his wife would be, too. Or from another one of those countries.

Max ütles ...

In NY state said...
And Huckabee, although a maverick, has some real character issues. He released a convicted rapist because the victim was a Clinton relative. The rapist went on to kill two other women. Also his son was caught torturing dogs in his late teens. Huckabee tried to fire the man resposible for arresting his son.

Well, it's plain that ole Huck believes in fambly values, as do his constituents. Now we know what them fambly values IS...

Mari ütles ...

And now for something completely different.

Hillary has a fan. Who sings.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Sudw4ghVe8

Roger ütles ...

If classmates of Ilves at Columbia decided to haze The Lynx by stripping him to his boxers and bow tie, rubbing him down with goose grease and sand, and then locking him in the janitor's closet for two days, would that make him a POW? Three therapists seem to think so. I don't hear any hypothetical protestations about Ilves's suitability as head of state!

Topi ütles ...

Now that the GOP race turns to Florida it will be very interesting to see if Giuliani can capture the nomination. If he won't win, his campaign might either just implode without making a mark at all or he might turn out to be the factor x that spoils it for McCain. Thompson certainly spoiled Huckabee's party in South Carolina and Giuliani could do the same for McCain in Florida.

Mitt Romney's immigrant-bashing Iowa campaign is now changing shape as he is airing Spanish-language ads in Florida. His son, pretty fluent in Spanish, is telling the voters how great a family man Mitt is.

The Republican race is still featuring candidates of very different conservative persuasions, while the Dem race is focused on two candidates with quite a similar profile on the issues. It is still bizarre to watch how the Reps, all initially so different, get to saying exactly the same things on issues such as immigration and supply-side economics.

Topi ütles ...

I hadn't reflected on the Bush or a Dole issue at all, perhaps because Bob Dole isn't a Bush. He got to be on the ticket twice, in 1976 as Ford's running mate and in 1996 he topped the GOP ticket. Now some really smart Republican might think that his wife Senator Dole of North Carolina could be the right person to balance the ticket this time...