“Young man. It’s all very well you making fun of everyone and everything you encounter: butternut squash, The Vatican and goats, but want I want to know is, are you capable of making any serious comments?”
Well Mrs. Earwax, judge for yourself…
Good evening. Across the Atlantic the main convention speeches are over and my fortnight of nightly oglings of Philippa Thomas have ended. Last week was the Democratic party’s National Convention in Denver and we heard from Barack Obama and Joe Biden as well as many supporting speakers such as Michelle Obama, Edward Kennedy and Hillary Clinton.
And just a few hours ago, came the finale of the Republican party’s National Convention in St.Paul where over the past four days we’ve heard from Sarah Palin and John McCain, as well as many supporting speakers including Laura Bush, Cindy McCain and Rudy Giuliani.
Of the four people on the two party tickets, Joe Biden, was for me, the least convincing, the weakest and the person whom, given the chance, i would “vote off” whilst presenting them with the dubious award of “The one there merely to make up the numbers”. A harsh indictment i know, but i felt a total lack of anything new. i felt that i could have predicted his speech almost line for line and he really had nothing to say for himself. i felt that he had resigned himself to four years of invisibility.
In my third place and therefore forcing a rather neat sense of symmetry, for me would be John McCain. Certainly a patriot, certainly a man with an enormous following. Certainly a man whose war record is a vital part of his credibility and popularity. But charisma? Leadership? Identity? I felt he was lacking in all of these. It just seemed that his only way of making a name for himself as a possible Commander In Chief, would be to distance himself from the current administration. George W barely got a passing mention. He stands out from the other speakers, solely in his adamant commitment to continue operations in Iraq.
My second place goes to Barack Obama. When he spoke, he had the unenviable job of living up to huge expectations. So much had been written and spoken about him and even more so, since his narrow defeat of Hillary Clinton. Her support of him, seemed at least, entirely genuine although I think he was right not to pick her as his VP, her ambition might just have proved to be his undoing in the long run. At least in Joe Biden, it seems he has a potential VP who will do his bidding, carry out his orders and do things the Obama way. Barack though, made many many promises and all of them expensive. He was truly charismatic. He said all the things that many Americans would want to hear. Affordable quality education for all. Twice the number of teachers. Affordable quality healthcare for all and a reduction in taxes for 90 per cent of Americans. Now i’m no expert on American fiscal matters, but even i know, that what he delivered was a rousing speech, but it was not a balanced budget declaration. He says he will bring the US troops home as soon as possible, but even so, the fiscal burden of their operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will continue to drain Congress’ coffers for many a year. But i liked the majority of what i heard, I just have no idea how he can make it all happen in four years or how he’ll manage to pay for it.
Which leaves for me at least, Sarah Palin in my top spot (oh look, he’s gone for the girl you one-track minded cynics yell). But for me, she came across as the one most likely to be good for America. If there was ever a time in the past few weeks when John McCain thought he was as risk of not having the necessary popularity, then it was a moment of genius to get Sarah Palin on board. My suspicion, is that he might just have bitten off more than he can chew. I don’t think she’ll play the Washington game. I don’t think she’ll accept the tried and accepted ways of doing business. I suspect, that if the McCain/Palin team win in November, that an awful lot of powerful lobbyists and Senators are going to get a nasty shock.
So i find myself in the disturbing position of knowing that i can’t have the team i’d like. For me, an Obama/Palin ticket would be unstoppable – if you forget the simple matter of persuading one of them to switch parties.
But what of it? I hear many people say that American politics are boring and have nothing to do with us and i can see why some might feel that to be so. I decided to take a keen interest in both conventions because i believe that more and more aspects of global life are effected and influenced by, events in the United States.
Before this fortnight convention season began, i had a very clear idea in my head of which party i felt would be best for America. I now have a very clear idea in my own mind about which party would be the best from Britain’s point of view. Unfortunately, they are not the same party.
I think American politics is about to get very interesting indeed. Whoever gets the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500, it is going to be an administration like no other before it and Mrs. Beeswax should keep an eye on them with interest.