A Republican Win?
If the election were held today, the Republicans would probably win the election. But the Republicans really don’t deserve to win.
While in power, the Republicans have done a poor job. Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America looked good on paper, but had as much relation to reality as a Barack Obama speech. Clinton humiliated Gingrich and the rest of the GOP leadership, easily won the government shutdown battle, and made a fool of the GOP Congress during the Lewinsky scandal.
Since the Clinton years, the GOP has looked even worse. Clinton managed a surplus, under Bush and company, we went back to massive deficits. Corruption reigned in Washington, and a humiliatingly high number of Republican Congressmen were indicted. (Granted, some, like Tom DeLay, may not have deserved it—but many more did). The Republican Congress has fought for the massively shady system of earmarks we enjoy today. Congress has let spending skyrocket out of control—the federal debt today is 9 trillion, an eighty percent increase over what the debt was when Bush took over.
President Bush has been very good on some aspects of the war. He has been steadfast in his pursuit of Islamic terrorists. He has refused even to contemplate withdrawing from Iraq before our task is finished, sometimes under considerable political pressure. His wiretap programs, for the most part, have been instrumental in making America safer.
It is a grim fact, however, that on other aspects of the war Bush has been a disaster. People can disagree over the wisdom of invading Iraq. Nobody can disagree that the manner in which the war was run in the years after was awful. Bush terribly mismanaged the war. Inexplicably, we stuck to the same strategy years after it was apparent it was not working. To his credit, Bush has adopted the surge strategy, and under the leadership of General David Petraeus, Iraq may be returning to stability. But one wonders how many lives and how much money were squandered in the years in which Bush did nothing.
On spending and certain aspects of the war, and many other issues, the Republican party has failed the country. It would seem to be a given that the Democrats would take the White House in November. Incredibly, they probably won’t.
How is this possible? A primary reason is that the Democrats will nominate a candidate with huge weaknesses. Hillary Clinton always had immense negative ratings—in the fifty percent range. Bill Clinton was likeable and could get away the odd bit of perjury or corruption charge. Hillary isn’t, and can’t. Hillary’s shrill voice, unpleasant demeanor, and general untrustworthiness will probably cost her the nomination. She can’t even unite the Democrat Party. Her chances in the general election would be incalculably low.
Barack Obama seemed to be everything Hillary is not. He is likable, pleasant, and even has a nice change message, even if he overuses it. He seems to have it all, and his gifts will probably win the Democrat Party nomination. Yet he probably won’t win the Presidency.
Obama’s involvement with Jeremiah Wright, an unhinged minister who preaches an odd doctrine of racial strife and division, will probably be fatal in the general election. Obama has run on his status as a post-racial candidate, a man who can overcome the divisions that divide us. The fact that he attends where racist and un-American sermons are apparently delivered regularly tarnishes his wonderful image.
But even if Wright had never come up, Obama would probably still lose. He based his image on the idea that he transcends politics, that he is a man (or if you talk to Obama supporters, a demi-god) who seeks the Presidency only for the good of the country. He is supposed to be above race and class, to be incorruptible, and to be absolutely moral.
He’s not. He may be better than most politicians—but nobody is as flawless as Obama seemed to be. If it hadn’t been Wright, it would have been something else. (Tony Rezko, maybe). Most politicians could probably ride it through—but not Obama. Even the slightest scandal would have been evidence that he is imperfect; and without his perceived perfection, there isn’t much else to Obama.
Given the fact that both Democrat candidates are tottering, it appears likely at this point that John McCain will win the Presidency. Granted, this is March, and any number of things could happen between now and the election. McCain could implode, Obama could get a boost, or Hillary could make an incredible comeback. But were the election held today, John McCain would probably win.