Saturday, November 01, 2008

Obama to be president

I forecast that Barack Obama would be the next US President when it was unpopular to do so.  Of course given the polls I am happy to retain this forecast as evidence of my luck or prowess now. I think Obama is something of a populist visionary/demagogue, has loose ideas on tax and tariffs and defeatist attitudes on Iraq. If introduced I think the illiberal economic policies Obama apparently endorses will harm America and the world - particularly in the face of an imminent severe recession and given two intractable wars.

But as it stands there are only two choices here and I think John McCain has left his running far too late.  He is too old. His selection of Sarah Palin seems to have unnerved America and cast doubts on his judgement. McCain sounds wooden and old. It is interesting that even the conservative Economist endorses Obama.

The positive aspect that Obama does bring is his ability to talk to Americans in an intelligent way.  Whatever you think of the man I cannot recall George Bush doing this.  Bush often read pollie talk from a script.

I believe that race and religion should not be factors that bear on election outcomes but if a black man is elected to be a US President it would say something very positive about America. That also says something about me - I had only just entered university when Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered.  That was less than 40 years ago but then the current situation was unthinkable.

What is clear is that if Obama is elected his visions/demagogary and populism will count for little in providing practical ways of addressing the immense problems that the US faces.  Most immediately a likely severe recession but, down the line, the long-term problem of addressing excessive US debt levels.  One can foresee the likely disappointment that many overly optimistic Americans will experience when it becomes clear that in many respects he must fail. But his intelligence and fair mindedness will help.

Update: Tim Blair comments on moves to deflate unrealistic expectations if Obama wins.


Anonymous said...

He not only will harm the economy. He will turn it communist. You may be thinking, "Yah right, whatever." But it is True. His belief system is socialist. He wants capitalism down the drain. Socialism has never worked and never will. It's not stable. This nation was founded on free market "you work you eat, You don't work you don't eat." That is what made this nation grow and prosper. Yes, some very disabled folks and older folks(that can't support themselves) need welfare, But this nation is giving the government way to much Power over it's people. This nation is for the People not to take control of the People. Thanks for reading.

conrad said...

Your first paragraph shows what is wrong with all those that believe the US, despite going broke, should stay and spend trillions in Iraq -- even though most Iraqis don't even want them there. You're willing to admit that the wars are "intractable", but somehow staying their is logical. This doesn't make sense to me. You either think you can win in some amount of time that doesn't cause you to go broke or leave.

Why not think of the opportunity cost here? For example 2 trillion on Iraq = 200 new carbon free power plants at 10 billion each. That would at least have partially solved the world's global warming problems. But instead we're still nowhere and billions of people are affected.

hc said...

Anonymous, I favour the 'don't work, don't eat' ethic to a point but I still favour a social safety net set at a reasonably low level.

Conrad, I think things are working out better in Iraq and that over the next few years the US will be able to leave.

Longer-term (not now) the US needs to raise taxes and reduce its debt.

conrad said...

HC -- I'll bet once the US leaves, Iraq will go into civil war sooner rather than later. Even if the US happens to be ahead by a whisker right now, you need to put a date on how long the withdrawal will take so that victory will be assured. Its been 4 year now. Who is going to stump up another 2 trillion for another 4 (a relatively small amount of time?). Without actually specifying dates and costs involved, simplying saying they will win in the long run is a little bit hollow. Similar arguments were made about Vietnam, but I doubt too many people think that leaving was a bad idea in hindsight.

Even if I lose on that bet, and Iraq turns out to be a peaceful great place (and I hope it does), I would still consider it a waste of 2 trillion dollars. That sort of money could have done amazing things for a far greater number of people. Why risk the next 2 trillion?

Blissex said...

The problem is that the election of a mixed race African-American to the presidency exposes the country and the world to a really huge, terrible risk: if President Hussein is assassinated (and even worse, if he is assassinated before being elected or taking office in January) all hell will break loose, and USA culture and politics will be poisoned for hundreds of years to come.

The dark skinned minority will see this as proof that they will never be allowed to emerge into the mainstream and go into a deep spasm of outrage, involving riots and extreme violence, and these will trigger a ferocious backlash and repression with widespread pogroms involving lynchings and massacres of minorities.

And the odds of President Hussein being assassinated are presumably much higher than for a mainstream candidate: by the very unusualness of the event loonies or not will want to have a go, starting with the many, violent white supremacists in the USA.

An assassination plot may be even staged to involve a suitably brainwashed dark skinned american carrying out the task, under the claim that President Hussein sold out and became and Uncle Tom.

The Presidential protection team hopefully will realize how terrible is their burnden in keeping president Hussein alive, and take extreme precaution to avoid a world shattering event.

ennui said...

Harry,the suggestion that Obama would be the next US President was only "unpopular" in some quarters. The conventional wisdom was, and still is, that given the shambles of the Bush presidency almost any Democrat nomination would win. McCain was probably the best option to distance Bush but it was always going to be an almost impossible task.
Obama has certainly added the younger "change" adherents to the traditional Democrat demographic but it's the issue of Bush's legacy which remains pivotal to the election.

Palin's selection was a mistake - but thats McCain!!

All politicians are populist in the run-up to elections (or when in opposition after an election). I think we should withold judgment of Obama's economic policies until we see what actally unfolds. In fact the more recent stump speech(s) from both candidates could be accurately described as "content-free"!

derrida derider said...

Oh dear, Harry, you seem to have attracted a couple of nutters (immediate giveaways: spelling "true" with a capital T, and referring to President Hussein).

Blissex said...

«referring to President Hussein»

Unfortunately that's how a lot of wingnuts think of "secret muslim" Senator Obama, and there are probably quite a few would-be Oswalds in that crowd.

hc said...

Yes Blissex seems to be a real nutter. Blissex please vanish.