Wednesday, January 30, 2008

American Primaries: I Want to be Inspired

Now that Rudy Giuliani has effectively been eliminated as a serious contender for the Republican nomination I feel as though I have no home to go to in the US Presidential election. With John Edwards withdrawing this afternoon, Giuliani surely won't be too far behind.

So the contest comes down to Romney or McCain v Obama or Clinton. I would never support Romney in a month of Sundays, Mondays or Tuesdays. His policy platform seems to change by the minute and is too much of an identikit candidate for my liking. If the West Wing were casting for an actor to play the American President he'd be perfect. But there's something about him that just doesn't ring true.

So on the Republican side I will support John McCain, albeit incredibly reluctantly. I just don't see the ideas, the optimism, the can-do attitude that I think such a candidate needs. But I'll take him over Romney.

On the Democratic side it's quite simple. Hilary Clinton represents everything I despise about machine politicians. And her husband's campaigning tactics in the last few weeks have deservedly done her enormous damage. He is not the man he was. He doesn't have the political 'touch' he once had. She may still win the nomination, but she will be badly damaged in the process.

And so we come to Barack Obama. At the risk of being called a 'traitor' by Donal Blaney, I like what I see. He certainly talks the talk, but I still have doubts about his judgement. He's made several errors so far in taking bad policy positions, but he seems to have this Reaganesque ability to shake them off as if he were made of Teflon. Hillary doesn't seem to be able to land a punch. Whenever she starts having a go, he smiles as if he is almost taking pity on her. Maybe he is.

So for me, it's Obama v McCain. My tribal instincts will no doubt win in the end and I'll reluctantly support McCain, but if Obama starts coming out with a more sensible policy platform, you never know.

Tomorrow I fly to Washington DC for ten days. Don't worry - the blog won't just be covering US politics for that time, but obviously I'll want to share with you what I learn.


Anonymous said...

What I love about Obama is that he is learning all the time and genuinely seems to take on board the lessons he's learned.

He is proving to be an inspiring man as well as a refreshingly genuine politican.

McCain frightens the hell out of me - I can't believe he's still campainging on a national security platform.

Anonymous said...

Learn? you're having a joke aren't you? I hope your plane crashes and burns. One less tory will make me sleep a lot better... bigot

Anonymous said...

You think McCain doesn't have any ideas. Actually, I agree with you and frankly, this is how I like my politicians. I don't want them shoving ideas down the throats of the electorate. Tony Blair had a new idea to stuff down the electorate on a daily, sometimes an hourly, basis. This is not what policians are for.

I don't want vision. I want someone to manage the country in a manner which is largely agreeable to the majority.

Obama is offering "Change you can believe in" - certainly the most empty campaign slogan since Blair stated he want to go forward, not back.

But I agree; this field is very uninspiring. The most dangerous is the inexperienced Obama who doesn't know what the hell he is talking about.

Iain Dale said...

The anonymous post at 3.11 is typical of ones I normally delete. I've had about 30 of these in the last two days. Nice, eh?

Yak40 said...

Giuliani is reported to be withdrawing today and endorsing McCain.
John Edwards has withdrawn, good riddance.

As for McCain, I don't like him, Cockburn's piece in First Post has some good points why - as well as blatant untruths and lefty spin.

Obama is a lightweight mostly built up by the media who will equally relish tearing him down if it suits their agenda. He has yet to offer more than platitudes. I think he's not ready yet. The Clintons will shred him.

McCain vs Hillary ? Plenty of skeletons on both sides. It'll be vicious and not inspiring at all but don't forget, ABC, Anyone But Clinton :)

Anonymous said...

anon 3:11, what a classy person you are.

Why does stating that Obama is learning on the campaign trail make me either a bigot or a Tory?

Paddy Briggs said...


There is nothing tribal which requires that a modern Tory supports the Republican v the Democrat. It’s all moved on from those distant days when if you liked Ike you liked Mac, or if you liked Maggie you had to like Ronnie. Bush preferred Blair to IDS or Howard (and I for one don’t blame him for that!). In return you can comfortably support Obama v McCain and not feel that you are letting the side down. I’m still rooting for Hillary and would be so energised by a Clinton/Obama ticket that I might even pop over and campaign for it. We shall see.

(Oh... and Verity have you really listened to Obama - or have you just watched him in monochrome in your "fertile" mind?)

Anonymous said...

My preference is for Edwards, personally. I really destested all the assumption that blacks, or women, should be behind one charachter based on gender or race. Identity politics are ruining this contest and I hope they never get a foothold here, which means the George Galloways of this world must be stamped out.

If Obama doesn't win he should stick around. Lots of people have been defeated at their first attempt and become successful at the end. Maybe he can do likewise.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, maybe not that Bill clinton is handicapping Hilary's campaign to secure even more votes.
But surely, it would be a fool that copied Al Gore's disastrous decision to stand Bill down from campaigning?
I think it shrewed to bring Bill onboard simply because he flattened all Politicians on record over the last 25 years.
Last I heard, Al was doing the rounds spinning some yarn over penguins being evicted from the ice cap, just like they were 10,000,000,000,0000 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Paddy Briggs, my answer to "have I actually listened to Obama" is the same as I gave to Canvas when that poster asked whether I'd "actually" read any of his speeches or (worse yet!) his books:

NO. I don't have time to waste on shills. I never read a word Tony Blair wrote either and never listened to a single speech. All I had to do was see the insanity in his eyes.

Obama's not insane. He is more cunning. He is a dangerous individual. Just as dangerous as Tony Blair. Maybe even more so.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I also hope that it comes down to Obama and McCain, I REALLY hope, for the sake of the world, that Obama is the next President of the USA. The man is pure genius.

Romney is a serious weirdo - and I'm disappointed with how the Clintons are behaving. But of course I would choose Hillary over Romney any day.

McCain will be in his mid 70s if he becomes President. I think that is far too old and very unexciting. Plus he is a bit of warmonger.

A win for Obama would fill this world with positive energy! Obama is our bright hope for the future.

Please talk to your mate Ed Vaizey who thinks it will be between Clinton and Romney. I hope Ed is wrong. But if Ed is right - then I imagine most people will just lose interest...

Go Obama!

Anonymous said...


Have you read the book by Barack Obama, "Dreams From My Father' ?

I think you would really enjoy it. It's so good.

Anonymous said...

One thing I can tell you living in the US, the primaries so far have been incredibly energising and far superior to the campaign process we have at home.

Yes, I know that caucuses are an anomaly, yes, I know Hillary won the popular vote in Nevada but got less delegates, yes, there is some genuinely disgusting tactics being used, but to an unashamed political tart, it's magnificent stuff.

I can't remember the last time I felt genuinely excited by or moved by a general election campaign at home.

Enjoy your time in D.C. Iain, and don't forget West Ham are on Fox Soccer Channel on Saturday afternoon at 430pm local time.

Anonymous said...

I love American politics. It's so vivid.

Anonymous said...

Verity says: "Obama's not insane. He is more cunning. He is a dangerous individual. Just as dangerous as Tony Blair. Maybe even more so."

V, If you think Obama is a dangerous man (roll eyes) then what the hell is George Bush? Chopped liver? :)

Obama is only dangerous if you are part of the status quo. Or if you believe in a 'dog eat dog' society - then, yes, Obama is dangerous - because if he is elected then he will change all of that and make this world a better place.

Go Obama.

Anonymous said...

I like wahat I see [so far] with Obama, just got his book which I havent started yet.

I cant stand Hillary Clinton, the USA's Gordon Brown, and McCain doesn't inspire me at all

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention this. Have a nice time in the USA, Iain! Buzzing :)

Anonymous said...

Barack Obama will be a fantastic President.
Only hope that he is allowed to live to achieve the dream.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I actually supported Obama early on, but was persuaded off by conservative colleagues. I might change my mind again.

Anonymous said...

Canvas, missing the point as always, writes: "if he is elected then he will change all of that and make this world a better place."

He will change ALL WHAT???? He hasn't said. He's going to make the world a better place???? HOW? And who is to decide what is a better place? And who, outside the American electorate (if indeed they do, which they won't) has invited him to make the world a better place? Do you think anyone in Oz gives a monkey crap about Obama?

Maybe he should make a start by making Kenya a better place, given that that's 50% of his origin. The black 50%.

Obama is going to make "a change you can believe in". This ties for first place in political idiocies with Blair's "Forward, not back."

Dear God!

Could you do us all a favour, as this isn't a teenage blog or Facebook? Could you hold back a bit on littering your posts with emoticons and punctuating your sentences with 'lol'? It's very irritating to adults.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to put my name but can't sorry, so anonymous it is - but really it is Josephine.
I am a Conservative - I can live with Mcain as a choice for Republicans. But my preferred choice for the Democrats just dropped out (he wasn;t doing well but I like him) - NO WAY could I ho for Hillary the Harridan (my choice of words), I am warming a lot to Obama - he reminds me of Cameron - now if only Edwards will throw in his support for Obama...
Must say then, if I was an American that is where my vote would go - an Obama/Edwards ticket would, I think be an absolute winner.
Jo, Eastbourne.

Rush-is-Right said...

There was talk today of a lot of 'unregistered' people being allowed to vote in the Republican primary despite the fact that they were not eligible.

It is recorded that people were showing up intending to vote for McCain and being allowed to, despite it being a breach of the rules.

People, the Democrats are being allowed to play a part in selecting the Republican candidate. And they are choosing the guy they know they can beat.

"In northern Coral Springs, near the Sawgrass Expressway and Coral Ridge Drive, David Nirenberg arrived to vote as an independent. Nevertheless, he said poll workers insisted he choose a party ballot. 'He said to me, "Are you Democrat or Republican?" I said, "Neither, I am independent." He said, "Well, you have to pick one,''' Nirenberg said. In Florida, only those who declare a party are allowed to cast a vote in that party's presidential primary. Nirenberg said he tried to explain to the poll worker that he should not vote on a party ballot because of his 'no party affiliation' status. Nirenberg said a second poll worker was called over who agreed that independents should not use party ballots, but said they had received instructions to the contrary. He said, 'Ya know, that is kind of funny, but it was what we were told. I was shocked when they told me that.' Nirenberg said he went ahead and voted for John McCain."

So an independent showed up and they said you can't vote unless you declare a party so he was allowed to declare a party right in the polling place and then went in and voted for McCain. In Palm Beach County an interruption was reported at Kings Point, a south county retirement community, according to the supervisor of elections, Arthur Anderson. It's just a little bitty passage here in a much longer story about independents. I don't know how widespread this is, but you'd have to assume McCain is behind this.

Paddy Briggs said...


I admire your consistency. Never let facts, information or study influence your opinions. Just look at the colour of a man's eyes (or do I just mean colour of a man?) and you have the certainty of the true zealot (or do I mean bigot?).

Anonymous said...

Iain, don't forget to give my fondest regards to Toby Harnden. His work covering the primaries has been of the very highest quality. Tell him the next time he takes me round a newspaper offices he needs to make sure the pubs aren't closed by the time we finish!! Lightweight!

Gareth Sutton

Paul Burgin said...

Could this mean that you might end up joining the coalition of political activists, Labour, Conservative, and Lib Dem, who back Obama. If you do, then welcome aboard :-)

Anonymous said...

Hallelujah! As a conservative I had great respect for Reagan but that didn't stop me recognising that he wasn't a details man or a deep thinker. So why do many of the conservative commentators criticise Obama for his campaign? Admittedly it is light in detail but in no way can Obama be called unintelligent. He will benefit from a deeply stacked bench of expert foreign, domestic and military advisers, just like Reagan.

But I'd rather vote for someone who inspires like Obama than the deeply cynical Clintons. Guiliani was also deeply negative and scaremongering. Otherwise McCain is the best of the rest.

Anonymous said...


"Could you hold back a bit on littering your posts with emoticons and punctuating your sentences with 'lol'? It's very irritating to adults."

I think I have a blog crush on you.

Jaz said...

Iain, you must be insane if you think Obama is good enough to the "run the world".

His debating skills are poor, you know, even Gordon Brown can make a great speech using a teleprompter.

It's Tony Blair all over again...your promise the world... Then can't deliver.

I'm sticking with McCain and Clinton, ultimately only Clinton is qualified enough and sounds like she might have a clue about the economy, the rest just bark on about change and iraq.

Anonymous said...

I really don't know enough about the politics of each candidate to have a preference, but it seems that Obama has that elusive, inborn and unteachable gift - charm.

(ducks, whilst Verity takes aim - I'm not saying whether I approve of what he's doing, dear, just making an observation!)

ps. Is it too late for Bloomberg to declare?

Anonymous said...

Verity says, "Could you do us all a favour, as this isn't a teenage blog or Facebook? "

Verity, No - sorry, no special favours and no exemptions. I'm don't think Iain's blog is reserved for members of SAGA? In fact, I believe Iain is a member of Facebook. It's his blog , not yours.

Barack Obama reaches out to the young and the old. Do you?


Yak40 said...

Fancy that, Democrats cheating.

Next Hillary will be suing to get the disqualified Michigan & Florida delegates, the seeding of the press has started. Vile woman.

Anonymous said...

How about Mike Huckabee? He's very sound on homosexuality and abortion.

Heaven knows why everyone kept going on about Giuliani: he was a joke candidate if ever there was one. Lots of hype about him on the lefty BBC website, of course.

Clothilde Simon

Anonymous said...

verity said...
Paddy Briggs, my answer to "have I actually listened to Obama" is the same as I gave to Canvas when that poster asked whether I'd "actually" read any of his speeches or (worse yet!) his books:

Don't confuse me with facts.

Anonymous said...

Canvas "Obama reaches out to the young and the old. Do you?"

I don't want to reach out to anyone. I'm not a reach-out kind of a gal. I thought Saga is a holiday company. Don't get your dig.

Iain is a member of Facebook, but I have forgiven him. No one is perfect.

Wait until the dirt hits the fan about Obama. His background is rather too exciting for most American voters. I do not trust this man any more than I trusted Tony Blair. He is a self-regarding, Messianic poseur - like Blair. And equally destructive.

Anonymous said...

personally i agree with pretty much everything Canvas has said.

Go Obama!

Rush-is-Right said...

So for me, it's Obama v McCain.

No. Given the choice between McCain and any Demorat I'll sit on my hands. There's no effing difference. And I would sooner the subsequent melt-down got blamed on the Demogogues rather than the GOP. So there!

Anonymous said...

Please... anyone but Obama. Even by politician standards he's a slimey, duplicitious ****. He makes Hillary look fragrant, to use a British judicial phrase.

As for the republicans, both the leading two aren't worth backing - except to block Obama.

Of the remaining candidates there is but one worth a dime: as Rudy put it in his Florida concession speech, 'Ron Paul won every debate...'

Anonymous said...

Obama is a protectionist. This alone would be a disaster for the world. Bill Clinton, whom I despise with every fibre of my being, did at least believe in free trade, and with luck the missus does too.

Obama 'thinks' on one day that we can solve the problems of Islamic terrorism by talking nicely to them, and on another that if the Pakistani doesn't do EXACTLY what he says, invasion is the solution. (Not against invasion per se - the Iraq war was absolutely the right thing to do; that wouldn't be.) Hillary is a foul, calculating hypocrite; which means there's half a chance she'd do the right thing in foreign policy.

Better the worst Republican than the best Democrat, but if the choice is between a charismatic vaccuum or Hillary, for the world's sake it's gotta be Hillary, God help us.

Anonymous said...

chris says: "(Not against invasion per se - the Iraq war was absolutely the right thing to do; that wouldn't be.)"

Obama doesn't believe in DUMB wars like Iraq.

And why do you think dialogue is a bad thing? It certainly ended the conflict in Northern Ireland. I'm glad Obama is not a warmonger like the evil George Bush.

Anonymous said...

I wish Iain had mentioned Ron Paul. OK he is highly unlikely to get nominated but he is the only one campaigning for real policy changes, rather than just talking nicely & is very likely to have more real long term influence on the US political agenda than whoever wins.

This is a common strength & weakness of real reformers. They bring in strange new ideas which eventually become received wisdom, at which point all the professional politicians say they always believed that. If it worked for the Greens surely it can work for somebody sensible too.

Anonymous said...

canvas said...

"A win for Obama would fill this world with positive energy! Obama is our bright hope for the future"

canvas darling, are you competing to become Miss World?

Obama's a flake.

As for you Iain, you have a good flight and and super time.

Yak40 said...

"And why do you think dialogue is a bad thing? It certainly ended the conflict in Northern Ireland."

You forgot appeasement then surrender.

Thatcher was the last to deal with the IRA appropriately.

Anonymous said...

anon"canvas darling, are you competing to become Miss World?
Obama's a flake."

yes, that's me, Ms Congeniality.
Obama wasn't a flake in the debate last night. He was fabulous.