Thank God for that…

I was absolutely *convinced* – utterly, totally, convinced, that the Republicans were going to steal the US election again. At no point in the election did Obama have a *comfortable* lead in the polls – a lead great enough that it was outside the normal margin of error plus what could be convincingly put down to racism. Remember that Kerry’s lead in 2004 was usually around 5% (in July 2004 it got as high as 13% in some polls) – Obama’s never got much more than 6%. As Leonard Pierce put it over on Sadly, No , “Since my joint’s not in play, I can enjoy drinking all night without worrying about my fellow man, and put off suicide until tomorrow when I wake up and learn that America has remembered that Barack Obama is a negro.”

But somehow the people of the US have actually managed to make the right choice, and get the lesser of two evils into office.

I’m no great fan of Obama – he’s a moderate ‘centrist’ Democrat, which for any other Western country would make him extreme right-wing. He’s someone, after all, who wants the death penalty used for *more* crimes – hardly a truly liberal stance. He also reminds me rather too much of Tony Blair – the messianic fervour with which apparently rational people are treating him, the big grin, the relative lack of substantive commitments, the way that his supporters are far more radical than he is (one irritating trend I’ve seen is that bloggers talking about “what Obama *should* say” to whatever insane Republican campaign trick came up were almost always saying something more appropriate than anything Obama himself would say).

Obama has been used as the repository of everyone’s hopes and aspirations, and to be honest I don’t believe the man’s actually said or done enough to deserve it. I think we’re all in for a *LOT* of disappointment over the next few years.

That said, I am still extremely glad that Obama was elected at all. Not only because of the fact that he was clearly the better of the two candidates (and because his VP-elect isn’t totally, utterly, batshit insane) but because of the message it sends, that America isn’t scared of minorities any more. Not black people – clearly a lot still *are* scared of them, and there’s no reason the election of the first black President would necessarily be more radical than the election of the first Jewish Prime Minister (Disraeli) or the first female one – although it is of course extremely gratifying that a black man *can* become President now; but *intelligent* people.

This is the first time since at least Jimmy Carter that the American people have elected someone who is not only more intelligent than average, but is unafraid to show it. Clinton is hugely intelligent, of course, but he hid that behind the ‘Bubba’ persona; and whatever one’s assessment of Reagan and the Bushes as Presidents, none of them ever gave the impression of being hugely intelligent – or, indeed, of ever having read a book. (Maybe Bush Sr read one once, possibly…). Whether that impression is correct is another matter, of course, but up until now the American people have seemed for some reason to be scared of intelligence in their leaders.

Whatever his other qualities, Obama is clearly a very intelligent, articulate man – someone who talks in thoroughly thought-out, considered, *paragraphs*, and who actually has some knowledge of a variety of different subjects and *talks about them*. Under those circumstances, I can even forgive him not knowing the difference between Green Lantern and the Green Hornet (as in a recent speech reported on one of the comics blogs I read), or misusing the word ‘enormity’ as he did in his victory speech. He is clearly not someone who’s afraid of thought, or afraid of showing that he’s thought about things.

And given that he also appears to be a well-intentioned, decent human being, I think he’ll probably not make things too much worse. Which, after eight years of continual shock to the nervous system as Bush does ever-more-insane things, will be a welcome change. Only two more months of worrying that ‘Dubya’ will decide to drop nuclear bombs on Brazil as a joke, or will invade Canada for being all snooty and saying ‘aboot’, and then we’ll once again have a USA that is led by someone who is worthy of the American people – who are, in my experience, the disproof of the adage that a country gets the government it deserves.

This entry was posted in politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thank God for that…

  1. Rachel K says:

    Obama’s never got much more than 6%

    Well, that’s just the popular vote — usually a good indicator of who’s going to win, but in a country where everything’s decided by the Electoral College, essentially just a curiosity. Looking at the polls state-by-state, McCain started looking doomed quite a while ago, actually. For comparison to Kerry, consider the outlook on 3 November 2004 vs. 3 November 2008.

  2. Holly says:

    But it got as high as 12% and 13% here in some polls too, as recently as a few weeks ago. After the “Palin bounce” wore off and people realized what she was actually like, McCain never recovered and we saw the biggest poll margins of the whole campaign. Plus, as noted above, the results for electoral votes were never close: places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia weren’t looking good for Oven Chip even earlier than the popular vote swung away from him.

  3. RAB says:

    I agree with all of this.

  4. Yeah, as an avid pollwatcher basically only Indiana was terribly surprising… this is a bit of an unwelcome downer dose of realism, tbh, Andrew – I think you’re probably right for the most part but it’s not how I’m choosing, for the most part, to live the moment – tears of relief and empathy, a burst of electrified elation… I thought the Morrison interview on A*S, as confluence, was very timely:

    “Is this relentless, downbeat insistence that the future has been cancelled really the best we can come up with? Are we so fucked up we get off on terrifying our children? It’s not funny or ironic anymore and that’s why we wrote All Star Superman the way we did. Everything has changed.”

    He is just a politician, a lawyer, and it’s worth remembering that at all times, and you’re entirely right about the shadow of the soured ’97 UK election bearing witness – again possibly – here; there are elements of Blair about Obama, but Blair was always in a secondary and beholden relationship to the USA (and latterly the Mail, etc. on immigration, revoltingly) which the president of the USA does not have to be. ‘Extreme right-wing’ is probably a bit much, too; honestly, I may have had a little much kool-aid, but I did an analysis of how my political disposition matched the Dem primary contenders (do not know link, sorry) and while I matched Kucinich 88% or so he would a) never be elected and b) not have the same historic significance in the incredibly unlikely event of bypassing a), I think the fact I matched 85% with Obama suggests otherwise. I wish, of course, he were a socialist and that he could tell Israel to ram their apartheid state as is but really, from my perspective, which I suspect differs not terribly from your own I think he is absolutely the best US president I could conceive, realistically. Hell – unrealistically, it still feels like fiction atm. This moment feels, still, like anything is possible and the range of possibility is no longer [awful->staggeringly awful] and includes, newly, also very good things.

Comments are closed.