America – so most of us call the USA - looks forward to two very different anniversaries, Thanksgiving and last year’s election of President Obama. Yesterday’s Dominion had an article about Detroit – 28% unemployment. And yesterday’s New York Times had a column about Sarah Palin’s whistle-stop tour, ostensibly to sell her book but obviously a positioning for a tilt at the 2012 presidency. I quote a sentence. ‘Palin can be stupefying simplistic, but she seems dynamic. Obama is impressively complex but he seems static.’ Would Clinton have dealt better with the issues? The question is unanswerable. The unlikely possibility of a Hilary Clinton versus Sarah Palin campaign would have been very interesting.
Americans have a tendency to be suckered-in by enthusiastic evangelicals. Indeed Obama’s campaign contained to a considerable extent that strand. I wondered at the time whether he had the ability to translate the rhetoric into reality. Clinton's ads struck home to this observer. Obama did lack experience, but maybe that could be an advantage. This gave me some hope as it certainly did to his fervent supporters.
Detroit is symbolic of much of modern America. Manufacturing is in the doldrums. Despondency has replaced that sense of adventure and confidence that characterised the sector for over a hundred years. The recession that began in Bush’s last year has bit hard – the big banks do not seem to have learnt the obvious lessons. And the litany of outrage that greets any move by government to regulate makes it difficult for any intervention. Add to that the inheritance of two unwinnable wars - damned if you do and damned if you don’t – it’s a presidential nightmare. The tasks are Herculean.
There will always be that gap between rhetoric and reality. Time is a factor. An economy is like a big ship at full speed on a collision course; it takes time to alter course. Too sharp a turn can create chaos. Not sharp enough and the impending disaster looms larger. The criticisms – some from the right are so vitriolic they are downright scary; those from the left reflect optimism turning into gloom at the failure of their leader to deliver.
Add to that two yearly Congressional elections. In an effort to get elected the rhetoric cranks up. Promises are made that can never be effected. Strange alliances are formed. Lobbyists are back in force. Can Obama do a Roosevelt and override these difficulties. I must confess my hopes dwindle. I hope I am wrong,
Launch at Unity Books Wellington
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