31 January 2008

Edwards Drops Out

With any luck, we've heard the last of John Edwards, who just dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination. I've never liked him much, but I'm still surprised he managed to be a distant third behind a woman with a grating voice and a black man with no experience. We really have come a long way, because Edwards, a white guy, has barely any more experience than Obama (the black man, in case you didn't guess), and much less than the woman (you did guess, Clinton, right?)

Hopefully Edwards' plea for economic protectionism and regulation will die with his candidacy. He wants to take the U.S. back to the 1970s, when your only choice of cars (unless you were wealthy) was one over-priced badly-made American car or another, because of strict quotas on Japanese imports. When flying was a delightful experience, but only the well-off could afford to do it. When telecom regulation meant phone customers still rented their phones from Ma Bell.

I also dislike Edwards because he thinks the president's primary responsibility is for domestic policy. Read the second article of the U.S. Constitution carefully, and compare the presidency's domestic policy responsibilities (few, and all in concordance with Congress), and its foreign policy responsibilities. I'm not sure Edwards has read it. After less than 2 years in the Senate, he felt qualified to be the leader of the free world, and began his campaign for the presidency. Over the succeeding 4 years he spent so much time campaigning that he probably didn't gain any real experience even from being in the Senate. Is he ready to deal with North Korea, Iran, China and Russia?

If you doubt foreign policy is a president's real task, look at George W. Bush. He had one big issue in his first campaign, cutting taxes. He knew nothing about foreign policy and didn't want to focus on it (e.g., his cutting off of talks with N. Korea), but his presidency will be defined by the war in Iraq. Or look at Jimmy Carter: he wanted to save the environment, but got bogged down by the Iran hostage crisis. He also brokered the still-strong peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, but that just reinforces the point--a president will be defined by foreign affairs.

That's my criticism of Obama, as well. The difference is, I like Obama. I lived in Illinois when he won his Senate seat, and I remember thinking, "this is the kind of person the Democratic Party needs to reach church-going Americans again." I thought he might make a great presidential candidate in about 10 years--not 3! Depending on who the Republican nominee is, I could consider voting for Obama, but mostly to be on the right side of history, so to speak. I don't mean I would do it for affirmative action, but that I think Romney is no more qualified, and is in many ways more repugnant, so if I have to choose between two unqualified persons, any other criteria is good enough grounds to choose. But since I usually vote Libertarian, my only reason for departure from voting for a certain loser yet again would be to make the statement that it's ok to elect a non-white to the oval office.

I like Hillary far less than Obama, but am more supportive of her for President. Despite her failed national health-care fiasco--actually, because of it--she clearly learned a lot about being president in her 8 years as first lady, and in the Senate she has served on the Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She's smart enough to have learned a lot that a president needs to know. I would also vote for her over Romney, for much the same reasons I would vote for Obama.

But I still favor McCain, because I don't care about a president's stand on taxes, abortion, or campaign finance reform (McCain is the author of the First Amendment gutting McCain-Feingold law, for which I will never forgive him). A president's job is to deal with other countries, and I don't see any other candidate remotely as qualified for that task as John McCain.


James K said...

I'm not sad to see Edwards go, I really think he would have been bad for your country.

Obama has the presence and charisma suited to a head of state and his foreign policy seems pretty good. With a Republican congress he would rpbably work out pretty well. And another plus: absolutely no-one will attempt to compare him to a monkey :)

There is a danger with charisma though, charismatic people can get away with anything. If Bush had Bill Clinton's charisma his approval rating would still probably be in the high 50s. Its no coincidence that the greatest monsters in history were also very charismatic: Hitler, Stalin and Mao had powerful personalities and don't even get me started on Che Guevera. Charisma doesn't make you evil, but only charismatic people can get away with it.

James Hanley said...

Good comment on charisma. It always makes me a bit nervous to see charismatic leaders.

I wish I could agree that no-one would compare Obama to a monkey. He is black, and we do still have a fair number of explicit racists in this country.

Of course they'd be hard pressed to find pictures where he looks as chimp-like as that WASP, Bush!

James K said...

I was thinking more of the international punditry. When I was at university I saw many office doors adorned with the Bush - chimp photo montage.

I'm guessing I wouldn't see any Obama ones.

Also, I can't imagine much discussions of "Obamaisms".