Thursday, June 05, 2008

About Barack

For me, the two most significant statements about Barack Obama were made by John McCain and Rupert Murdoch. McCain said he was surprised such a young man should embrace so many failed ideas. Coming from a Republican with a wrecked economy, horrific over-spending and a hopeless war to his party's credit, this might seem a bit rich. But what he meant, of course, were the ideas of the postwar centrist consensus that dominated Western politics. This assumed big, economically pro-active governments with mildly redistributive and social engineering programmes. This began to unravel in 1968 and collapsed completely with the elections of Reagan and Thatcher. This neo-liberal phase (combined with the linked but contradictory neo-conservative phase) dominated politics until now - Blair and the Clintons (impossible just to say 'Bill' any more) were both neo-liberals and Blair became a full-blooded necon. Brown doesn't matter. McCain is obviously aware of this historical perspective - Pat Buchanan bangs on about it on TV with varying degrees of coherence and consistency - and is trying to pretend the 40-year reign of the right is intact and sustainable. This means, of course, that he is no conservative, but I've been through that one before. It also means he's in denial about the significance of Obama, which is where Murdoch comes in. Murdoch effectively endorsed Obama in an interview in which he described him as a 'rock star'. This means he has a market reality that is at least as, if not more, potent than any amount of political head-clutching. A big article by Joshua Green (taken from The Atlantic) in The Independent today (but unfindable on their web site) shows how this has happened through his fund raising techniques. These have effectively destroyed the old model of party funding.  What Obama means is the forty-year ascendancy of the neocon, neolib right is over and something new, so far indistinct and not necessarily left is rising to take its place. One can see this clearly as long as one doesn't attach any ideological passion to the idea. Neither is right, each corrects the other, that is all that needs to be said. But the emptiness of the McCain sentiment combined with the market savvy of Murdoch's remark make it clear, to me at least, that, with Hillary out of the way, Obama is unbeatable.

15 comments:

  1. The Joshua Green article can be found here at the Atlantic website.

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  2. Of course you are right -Obama is made to be the US President and what he thinks dont matter!!

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  3. That sounds about right. The old map is pretty useless--and Obama spotted it first, anouncing it in that speech.

    At the moment McCain looks in real risk of being crushed by the Obama machine. (I still think Hilary was the most formidable obstacle.) All this could change of course but team McCain needs a change of gear.

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  4. Or could it be that the great Aussie father of the sat dish has copious amounts of this

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  5. Sure, its the dawning of a new age, a new paradigm, yadda yadda. But you didn't weigh in on whether this will be a good thing. Is it a good thing to elect a rock star to the presidency?

    The wisest words from all human history are "be careful what you wish for".

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  6. It was very generous of McCain to bestow the honor of ideahood on anything that Obama has uttered in the campaign. Seduction hardly rises to the level of an idea.

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  7. 'This assumed big, economically pro-active governments with mildly redistributive and social engineering programmes. This began to unravel in 1968 and collapsed completely with the elections of Reagan and Thatcher.' It didn't unravel that much - what has the last 7 years of our Labour government been about? The growth of the public sector (and it's spending) in the UK, working tax credits, New Deal etc etc etc. Obama has said precious little of substance on any subject. Last week he said "On this Memorial Day, as our nation honours its unbroken line of fallen heroes - and I see many of them in the audience here today ..." - had this been Dubya, the media would have had one of their 'Why o Why?' spasms. But it's Barack, so everything's cool. His USP is the colour of his skin which on current evidence seems to trump the content of his character.

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  8. Did you know that John McCain once tried to deck Sir Malcolm Rifkind? You didn't? Well you should have read this http://www.amazon.co.uk/Whats-Left-Liberals-Lost-Their/dp/0007229704/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212584117&sr=8-1
    Now that you do, surely you must drop your teenage infatuation with a strutting popinjay and vote for a real man

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  9. Interesting Nick, I have read the book (you signed it) but forgot that episode. But on this basis, would you want John Prescott back? I suspect he'd be quite good at slapping uppity Tories.

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  10. Patrick, ah you have me.
    But McCain was provoked. He and Bob Dole were lobbying a reluctant Rifkind to stop appeasing Milosevic and defend Bosnian Muslims.
    'You Americans know nothing about the horrors of war,' screamed Rifkind, whose closest brush with combat was the backstabbing of the Tory Party.
    Dole, who had been sent home from the Italian campaign in a full body plaster after being hit by a Nazi shell, walked out.
    McCain, who had spent years in a Communist PoW camp, tried to hit him.
    Unfortunately, the Vietmanese had tortured him too effectively and he couldn't raise his arm above his shoulder.

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  11. I understand now, Bryan, why you returned to your homeland feeling somewhat poorly. It was obviously the onset of the Barack Pneumonia and the Messianic Flu. One symptom is referring to the candidate by his first name as if he were your friend. You really should have stopped by my place while you were here. I could have introduced to some ordinary Americans who would have inoculated you against this pernicious double whammy.

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  12. I would say that this is very perceptive, and I hope that you are correct, time for a change, a redirection, if you will.

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  13. I call him Obama Frank, but About Obama sounds wet.

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  14. "Wrecked economy"? 25+ years of continuous expansion is "wrecked"?

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