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.