John Zogby believes this election is historical. But I think Zogby confuses the novel with the good.
But think about it, a young African-American (with roots in Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii and Kansas, certainly not the path taken by Chester A. Arthur or Calvin Coolidge) defeated a woman senator (from New York, Arkansas, Illinois and Washington, D.C.) for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States.
And he is running against a 72-year-old former prisoner of war, who was tortured for five-and-a-half years.
Think about it. This is history. I have written before about the other historical aspects of the 2008 election-change like 1932 and 1980-but when the votes are finally tallied, records will be set, adding to records already established during the primary season.
So what does this tell us about ourselves? In short, Americans are ready for change, even if it means the oldest man ever elected to a first term or an African-American candidate. This election is very much the story of the maturing of a people.
Do these two choices show wisdom on the part of the electorate? Obama seems like a standard left-liberal with the added racial element to make him seem novel and a change. But the racial element is in large part a distraction from his liberal agenda. As for McCain's former POW status: I do not see how this somehow compensates for his aged brain, his lack of understanding (e.g. of economics and foreign affairs), or his temper. If we ignore their novelties they are not good candidates.
Lots of fools live in each of the place Obama has lived. A small number of wise people have as well. Some people develop a great understanding of the world without living lots of different places. Others live in lots of different places and come out none the better for their experience. Some people seem to have gained wisdom from suffering (Alexander Solzhenitsyn comes to mind). But maybe they would have become wise even without that suffering. Others get seriously damaged by their suffering and come out as unwise as they were when they started their ordeal.
I see Dwight D. Eisenhower as one of the most competent and successful of the US Presidents. He didn't suffer. His upbringing wasn't exotic (someone correct me if I'm wrong). He seemed outwardly a boring and conventional WASP. Yet he was a highly competent and wise president, far more competent than many of his critics saw him at the time. He entered the Presidency with a far greater record of accomplishment than the records of our two US Presidential candidates of 2008. His military service war far more relevant to the running of the country than McCain's service.
Suffering in a North Vietnamese prison was a horrible ordeal that gives me sympathy for McCain and others who went through that ordeal. But I fail to see how that ordeal makes McCain more competent to serve as President. Rather, I suspect the ordeal accelerated his brain and body's aging process and leaves him less fit to sit in the Oval Office and make decisions.
Update: I was watching David Broder interview George Will on C-SPAN today. George Will said that people end up feeling bitter about Presidents because prospective Presidents are oversold in terms of what they can reasonably hope to accomplish. The President is in charge of just one branch of one of our governments (other governments being at the state, county, and local level as well as assorted agencies that have separate sets of elected officials such as school boards). He says Obama has so unrealistically stoked expectations that he'll meet the same fate. Will also commented that the Presidency is not a sacerdotal office. In other words, it is not religious.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 August 02 04:57 PM Politics Incompetence|