Monday, February 11, 2008

A Current Assesment of the 2008 Presidential Candidates

I was asked by a Canadian Relative who I'd be voting for in this Presidential race, and these were my thoughts that I sent on.

First thing for Canadians to understand is that unlike you with 3 parties and a provincial party, we have two dominant political parties that matter here. The Stupid Party (Republican) and the Evil Party (Democrat). On occasion these two parties come together and do something both stupid and evil. This is called bipartisanship.

That being said here’s my thoughts on the candidates:

On the Democrat side-

This election is certainly the Democrat’s to lose but they might succeed in losing in spite of their present advantages.

First look for a major brouhaha over counting delegates from Michigan and Florida . Both went for Hillary and both are important core states for the Democrats. Expect Hillary to push for counting them as it will be important to count every vote. If Obama objects he’ll be accused of disenfranchising significant black democrat supporters – not good. Already there have been serious calls for a do-over primary in Michigan. This could get exciting so have some popcorn ready.

Obama – opinion - really not good. Aside from saying he’s for change and hope he doesn’t talk about his policy platform. Reading it looks like old hard left Chicago democrat machine politics which it is. He doesn’t have much of a record to run on, and he’s not up to the job.

More worrisome is his ties to the Nation of Islam, including having them in positions in high levels his campaign including policy and treasury. His membership in a black separatist church is similarly worrisome. Additionally his ties to now indicted Syrian businessman Tony Rezko is highly worrisome, with ties that go to other shady Arab business interest in London and Iraq. Obama received more than $150,000 in contributions donated or raised by Mr. Rezko during his political career. The senator also purchased property from Rezko’s wife at way below market. While federal prosecutors in Chicago are mainly focused on Mr. Rezko's ties to the governor of Illinois, they claim in court papers that Mr. Rezko illegally reimbursed another donor for a $10,000 contribution to Mr. Obama's 2004 Senate campaign, and that’s the tip of the iceberg.

Hillary – Hard to say. On principle this is bad as the history of the presidency will read Bush-Clinton-Clinton-Bush-Bush-Clinton-Clinton, which means expect to see Jeb Bush running for president in 2016 and Chelsea Clinton running in 2024. Dynasties aren’t a good feature and think of the poor history students in the future trying to memorize American presidents. Someone must think of the children.

On the upside she’ll likely be tough on foreign policy. Downside foreign policy wise, she’ll continue the Bush I-Clinton I policy of pressure on and betrayal of Israel and continually demanding Israel make concession in the face of terrorism without simultaneous real pressure on the Palis et al. Bush II started to get away from this but went right back to this failed approach after James Baker came on board and the Saudis told him what to do. Thankfully Hillary is less beholden to the Saudis than Bush is, but she loses points for giving Suha Arafat a serious kiss and nodding and not contradicting Suha when she accused the Israelis of using poison gas on Palestinians.

Another Downside, she’s got a Hsu problem, i.e. an illegal foreign donor scandal of impressive proportions from the Chinese, which means Taiwan is likely to be toast after the Olympic games. Further downside, we get Bill Clinton back in the White House or even appointed a Supreme Court Justice – think of the man in black robes with Supreme Court interns. In addition her domestic policy is only marginally better than Obama’s and publicly announcing she’s going “to take things away from you on behalf of the common good” is somewhat worrisome. On the upside, she’s a natural born triangulator and wants to stay in power over ideology so we can expect some pragmatism from her in office. This will beat Obama’s change mantra by far. Downside, if the Dems keep the House and Senate and get the Presidency, all bets are off.

On the Republican Side:

McCain – that’s it, nobody else left.

On the downside he’s a populist and the media’s choice for a Republican candidate and far closer to a Democrat than to a Republican so Democrats won’t need to worry too much about his policies, indeed, he’s often accused of being Democrat-Lite. He’s consistently worked with Democrats to get matters passed ie McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, Gang of 14, etc and will likely go along to get along. Typically is very much tracking Democrat domestic policy but will be more restrained on spending than Bush, or either Democrat candidate and would be tougher foreign policy wise, and has been pretty consistently pro-Israel without being beholden to the Saudis as Bush is. Downside is he may go along so far with the Democrats that no one will put the brakes on if a Republican President promotes the House and Senate Democrat policies - expect lots of bipartisanship starting with amnesty under another name.

Benefit, as the Democrats will likely keep the House and Senate, a McCain presidency will offer divided government which tends to work best for America, as long as he acts like a Republican and holds the line on spending, if not and his populist tendencies get the best of him he may be the best thing for Democrat policy promotion and we’ll see a leftward shift far beyond what we might get with Hillary or Obama as nobody will be trying to put the brakes on it.

In short, not sure who I’m voting for yet, but it is turning into an interesting race on the Democrat side and I’m waiting to see who McCain picks for his Vice President running mate to see where he’s shifting.

Mind you after viewing their relative positions at, McCain looks a lot better and far less scary than either Obama or Hillary. This may a situation where a lesser of the evils vote is called for, especially if the House, Senate and Executive branch are likely to belong to one party alone. Time, further debates and Vice Presidential picks will tell.

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