The American Presidential elections are a week away. Time for some comprehensive opinion.
My first impression of John McCain was during the primaries, in which he struck me as a very ardent supporter of the Iraq war and as someone who is aggressive and uncompromising when it comes to foreign policy. Later, I picked up on the fact that he wasn’t seen as a Republican and was deeply unpopular with much of the party since he was seen as someone who wasn’t bound by the party line.
In retrospect, his victory in the primaries seems analogous to that of Stephane Dion’s in the Liberal leadership: everyone else was out by default. Romney was a Mormon and wouldn’t get the support of the Evangelical base. Huckabee was unpopular with the corporate Republicans. Giuliani’s strategy just sucked.
However, his biggest mistakes were made in the last few months, leading up to and since both party conventions. Like Hillary Clinton, he began being a respectable second choice should Obama lose, and like Hillary Clinton, McCain began to squander that goodwill by running a dishonest and dirty campaign. And in both cases, as we near draw closer to decision day, both campaigns were imploding.
The problem for McCain is that no one actually likes him, unlike Clinton. Clinton was able to continue to maintain control of her supporters and ultimately brought them over to Obama. McCain’s supporters are clearly prepared to throw him into a ditch the first chance they can get.
The other problem for McCain is that he’s not as cool and collected as Clinton was. Clinton had the stones to continue for a few days before suspending her campaign after June 3. On the other hand, we have McCain acting on impulse, throwing random crap at us since the DNC convention. We’ve had the impulse pick of Sarah Palin as running mate, the haphazard drama over the financial crisis, and the inability to stay on message over the last few weeks.
And unlike Clinton, he’s unlikely to have a chance to regain whatever positive opinions the public may have had left of him.
Interestingly enough, I had heard of Palin before her pick as running mate for McCain. It was on the PA forums, where people were throwing out possible female Republicans who may take a shot at 2012. At the time, we knew as much about her as we did when they introduced her: a young reformer and wildly popular in her state. And of course, when she was announced, there was a slight panic and speculation about how it might change the race.
This will likely prove to be McCain’s biggest mistake. Palin’s inexperience and ignorance of any issues beyond managing her state was clearly demonstrated in an entire series of interviews. She was under investigation for abuse of power. And yet, she is far more popular than McCain among Republicans. Even now, there is speculation that she’s turning on the campaign and looking out for herself. However, her extreme right-wing views and ignorance probably drove away independents and undecideds that McCain desperately needed.
She started off as a fairly dangerous and aggressive candidate, but ultimately was trounced by both Obama and Biden and has now ended up as a liability to McCain.
I had three picks for Obama’s running mate: former General Wesley Clark, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, and Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware. And lucky me, Obama chose Biden.
Biden is one of the senators that I’ve heard about outside of the campaign, and in fact, for a few years now. He’s always struck me as the type of guy that doesn’t take crap and will call you out on your crap. He’s incredibly experienced and is incredibly knowledgeable in foreign affairs. He’s an excellent speaker and is very likable.
I’d watched his speech as Obama introduced him as his running mate. Right out of the gate, he was taking excellent jabs at McCain and introducing his story at the same time. It was then that I knew that Obama made the right choice and that the rest of the campaign was going to be awesome.
I think it speaks volumes about the difference between Obama and McCain in their selection of their running mates. Biden was carefully considered and was chosen to compliment Obama in his administration. Palin was chosen without much vetting and was an obvious political move.
Like Biden, I’ve been following Obama for a few years, ever since I heard about him on Slashdot. It was my English teacher that said that words have power and Obama is a clear example of this. He is one of the most eloquent and powerful speakers that I’ve personally seen. Even if he didn’t run for president, it’s evident from his speech at the 2004 DNC convention that he’d have a lot of influence.
It bugged me when Obama’s opponents attacked him for his oratory, mostly because it preys on people’s stupidity. People constantly ignore the fact that the world’s most influential leaders are such because they were powerful speakers. The argument that style and substance are mutually exclusive is a retarded one that only stupid people would buy. Unfortunately, the fact that this election might be considered a contest at all is proof that much of America is still dominated by stupid people.
But of course, Obama isn’t all style. His legislative record is proof of this, like the law that’s colloquially known as Google for Government. He has a comprehensive platform. Unlike McCain, he’s able to give detailed explanations of his policies. Beyond his progressive policies, he’s committed to things that everyone should want, like increased government transparency and accountability.
And even if he has relatively little experience to McCain, he’s proved that he’s able to manage and organize a campaign far better than he has. Where he might be inexperienced, he will surround himself with smart people. He’s collected and makes measured decisions. And of course, Obama is intelligent and has a charisma aura and is just plain awesome.