Thursday, July 10, 2008

The 2008 Presidential Election Disclaimer

Since I'm writing the occasional political post I should clarify my position on the 2008 Presidential Election.

Short Version: I'm not voting for either of these clowns!

Long Version: I'm really really not going to vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama for President. There are several reasons for this, some of which apply to both candidates and some of which apply to specific candidates. And there is one overriding reason that I will address last.

The biggest issue is that neither of these men have the requisite experience to handle the job. McCain has an edge here, actually a pretty large edge. However, just because McCain is a lightweight and Obama is only a flyweight doesn't really matter. The Presidency is a job for a heavyweight. Both of these men are attempting to punch way above their weight class and I doubt that either of them will be up to the job.

Unfortunately what's true of boxing is also true of American national politics at the moment: There is a real dearth of heavyweight talent out there. Nonetheless I feel that both parties seem to have gone out of their way to choose the weakest serious candidates they could have chosen.

The second issue is that I don't trust the character of either man. Specifically I am referring to the public character of the two men. Obama has been an incredibly shifty character, and his only interest seems to be in gaining ever higher office. He seems to have been willing to do anything in order to promote himself. Unfortunately for him the Presidency is as high as it gets in this country. What is he going to do when he realizes that he may actually have to do the job instead of run for the next office? My suspicion is that we will enter an era of permanent campaign to make the Bush and Clinton years pale by comparison. (Actually I think the Bush Presidency's reputation for permanently campaigning is overstated, but that is a post for another time.)

My problems with McCain are perhaps even deeper. I must confess to suffering from "McCain Derangement Syndrome". I have been afflicted with this for some time and there doesn't appear to be a cure. But through the years I have come to believe that McCain has a disturbing mix of preening vanity and a "How dare you question me?" arrogance that make for a bad combination in a President. All Presidents probably suffer from these afflictions to an extent, but I believe that McCain is an extreme case. I've commented on this topic on many blogs, and I have linked to many stories to demonstrate my point. Unfortunately those links are no longer available to me and I'm too lazy to look them up now. Besides, I'm unlikely to change any opinions about McCain at this late date.

The third issue concerns policy: Namely I don't like the bulk of the policies for either candidate. This is hardly a surprise with Obama, given that I am what passes for a small government conservative and Obama is a progressive Democrat. But McCain troubles me just as much. He also seems to think government is more likely to be the solution than the problem. And his campaign finance stance is complete anathema to me. I have other issues with McCain's policy preferences, but there's no reason to do a laundry list.

Finally there is that overriding issue I mentioned. Unlike most people in America, I just don't think this particular election matters that much. I believe that the next President is going to find himself largely constrained by circumstances which will greatly limit his most important policy decisions.

In Iraq, for example, the next President WILL find himself drawing down troop levels. The current levels of deployment cannot be sustained, and in fact we should see troops being redeployed out of Iraq this fall. Furthermore, the next President is most likely NOT going to want to admit defeat in Iraq, although that was originally the sole purpose of Obama's campaign. But once in office there is no way the Democratic Party would allow him to retreat from Iraq in a reckless fashion. The combination of our military and diplomatic limits combined with a desire to avoid being held responsible for "losing Iraq" will most likely result in similar policy decisions no matter who is elected.

I believe that our options concerning Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and North Korea are similarly constrained. And neither party has shown any real coherence on how we should approach relations with China. Most other matters of foreign policy aren't really critical.

On domestic policy I just don't think there will be that much difference, except on tax policy. We have already over-committed on the spending side because of entitlement programs. With Bush's additional Medicare drug benefits we have almost reached the limits of what we can reasonably do. Nonetheless I expect that the winning candidate will likely attempt a huge overreach on health care policy. Regardless of plan or President I don't see that working out terribly well.

Taxes might be an area of true difference. An Obama Presidency, coupled with a Democratic Congress that will likely have larger majorities than they do now, will likely greatly increase overall tax rates. I suspect that is a disaster in the making, and that if McCain were President that the situation would be marginally better. But on this issue perhaps it is time that the Democrats once again had sway to do as they wish. They haven't really been able to take the country in a serious leftward direction since 1965. The Republicans had plenty of time to fuck up the country on their own, we may as well let the Dems have a turn.

9 comments:

Pastor_Jeff said...

I have come to believe that McCain has a disturbing mix of preening vanity and a "How dare you question me?" arrogance that make for a bad combination in a President.

Life in the Senate sure seems to create that attitude.

I just don't think this particular election matters that much.

Maybe you're right, but John Paul Stevens won't live forever.

And a Republican President is the only check we have on a stupid, incompetent and blindly partisan Democratic Congress. I shudder to think what havoc Pelosi and Reid could wreak with a President Obama.

I've got no argument with your basic points, but I'll still hold my nose and vote McCain.

AnastasiaBeaverhausen said...

So if you two don't think these guys are any good...who do you think would make a great president! I will never ever vote Republican again as they have screwed the working man again and again. McCain has been in Congress over 25 years with only 1 bill to his credit...that's a disgrace. Oh and did you forget he was part of the keating 5 scandal and that he threw over nice wife number 1 for Cindy plastic surgery stepford wife arrested for drug abuse! Not my idea of a president. Obama is getting the same rhetoric that was going around in 1959/1960 about JFK and look at his legacy. Maybe we should try a new face, I just have to believe that somewhere out there things can get better for the little guy!

Trooper York said...

I think you right on the money in your analysis. They will both be constrained by circumstances. I think even in the area of taxation. There is no groundswell for a tax increase and if Obama wins and tries it he will lose congress just like Clinton did. So if there is an increase it will only be mariginal and not over the top.

Great post.

Icepick said...

Maybe you're right, but John Paul Stevens won't live forever.

This is the one thing I keep forgetting! This is an important distinction. But I'm tired of voting for people solely on the premise of "The other guy is even worse than I am!" As I've been repeating for the last three years, "The Democrts don't desrve to win [the next] election, but the Republicans sure as Hell deserve to lose it."

Icepick said...

So if you two don't think these guys are any good...who do you think would make a great president!

I can't speak for Jeff, but I don't think anyone would make a great President these days. The job is impossibbly large. But I do think it would be possible for someone to do a decent job. Amongst other things that person would need to have serious chops as an administrator and executive. In the primaries this year only two people really met the bill as I recall: Guilianni and Romney. I didn't really agree with everything Rudy wanted to do but I was willing to vote for him (and I did) based on his experiences in NYC. I might have been willing to consider Romney if he hadn't been so willing to dump prior positions for their opposites. Note that in many cases I agreed more with his new positions. But I would like to think that a politician is willing to stick to some principles come Hell or high water, and I just didn't get that since from Romney.

I should note that since I haven't voted for a Democrat since 1994 I didn't really follow their candidates that closely so I can't comment on the lesser lights in their field.

And regardless of party affiliation I think the Senate is a HORRIBLE training ground for future Presidents if it is their primary acheivement in life.

I will never ever vote Republican again as they have screwed the working man again and again.

Funnily enough I believe the exact same thing of the Democrats. After getting screwed over by Democrats one too many times I will never vote for one of them again. (Fuck you, Lawton Childs. I'd go piss on your grave if I knew where it was. - This parenthetical is dedicated to Trooper York.)

McCain has been in Congress over 25 years with only 1 bill to his credit...that's a disgrace.

Yeah, I mentioned that.

Oh and did you forget he was part of the keating 5 scandal

No, I alluded to that, although it was somewhat oblique. But the Keating 5 bit is small potato hypocrisy compared to more recent offenses.

and that he threw over nice wife number 1 for Cindy plastic surgery stepford wife arrested for drug abuse!

Point the first: Cindy McCain hadn't had any plastic surgery when they met.

Point the second: I see no sign of her being a Stepford wife. She seems quite willing to tell the press (for example) to go fuck itself. Would that her husband would do the same.

Point the third: What the Hell does this have to do with his qualifications to be President? I thought you guys were for a higher level of discourse, no? Instead I keep hearing Obama supporters calling McCain's wife a drug-addled slut and stating that McCain himself was a traitor for "confessing" to war crimes after being stabbed in the groin. (At least you didn't use that second attack.)

Not my idea of a president.

My idea of a President doesn't include his spending 20 years going to a church that preaches "God Damn America!" Then again I am an athiest.

Obama is getting the same rhetoric that was going around in 1959/1960 about JFK and look at his legacy.

JFK's legacy: He got us into Vietnam, spent huge amounts of money on a space program that ultimately accomplished a photo-op, failed to advance civil rights in any meaningful way, and created a cult of personality that is still alive 45 years after he died. (That last is especially egregious as it is a step towards authoritarianism.) On the other hand he DID increase defense spending and cut taxes. At best a draw on legacy. In 100 years Kennedy will be regarded less well than McKinley is now.

Maybe we should try a new face, I just have to believe that somewhere out there things can get better for the little guy!

You will get nowhere with me using the "little guy" arguement. I grew up working class poor and the Dems didn't do shit to help me or any of the people in even worse straights. The Republicans didn't either but at least they were honest about the neccessity to look out for oneself.

Icepick said...

Life in the Senate sure seems to create that attitude.

Here's something I haven't mentioned on any of my blogs: It is my belief that the Senate is a holding pen for the most dangerously incompetent idiots in America. That's why it's always a shame to see one of them voted out: At that point they have been released back into the general population to wreak havic. See John Ashcroft for example. Or Algore, for that matter.

reader_iam said...

Outis: I was going to comment.

But now I'm not.

Randy said...

You get my vote. Rather, your lack of a vote gets my vote. Or is it my non-vote will be added to yours (although no one is counting unless we both move to Nevada, and even then I'm not sure if they still offer "None of the Above" as an option.

Anyway, I'm with you almost all the way (90%+) in what you've written here, including the comments.

Pastor_Jeff said...

"The Democrats don't deserve to win [the next] election, but the Republicans sure as Hell deserve to lose it."

Can't argue with that.

And I agree with your assessment of the candidates. I haven't seen anyone running this year whom I thought was very well qualified or suited for the job. I liked Thompson based on his policies, but he'd never get elected and didn't seem suited temperamentally, anyway. I would be more enthused about Giuliani or Romney than McCain. I'd vote for the 2000 McCain over this one. At this point, it's a race to elect the least dangerous idiot.

It is my belief that the Senate is a holding pen for the most dangerously incompetent idiots in America.

It's like they say about prison: If you aren't a criminal when you go in, you're sure one by the time you leave.