Monday, June 09, 2008
I am often, notably by Frank, taken to task for my 'support' for Obama so I feel I ought to make myself clear. I don't support Obama, I have never in my life supported any politician and, in any case, support is pretty meaningless coming from a Brit. As I explained, perhaps too briefly, ideological passion is death in politics, as is hero-worship. The reason I hope Obama wins - a more passive posture than support - is that he opens up a space. The Republicans haven't been conservatives for 30 or 40 years; the Democrats have been lost in self-destruction and the machine and identity politics of the Clintons. I don't know whether Obama will be a good president or not but I am sure he would be better than the hapless McCain and certainly far better than the appalling 'Mark Antony' Clinton, both of whom are choking on rhetoric of their own devising. In McCain's case I'm not even sure it can be classed as rhetoric. They are also both untrustworthy - as Peggy Noonan pointed out, you can be sure McCain and Hillary would lie in office, you can't be sure Obama would. The bigger point for me is they have no style and style in the widest sense is important. Hillary is a Windows laptop - all sorts of uncoordinated functions - and Obama is an Apple - many functions which, somehow, seem to the same function. Hillary tailored her method to her audiences and pulled any trick that came into her head. One is constantly aware, while watching her, of the calibrations of her manner, as one is aware of the clunking workings of a Windows computer. Obama seems to be one manner, whatever the situation. His delivery varies, but it is, essentially, all of a piece. He is neither of the debauched right nor the machine left, he is something else, something unlike any politician I can remember - though Reagan and Thatcher come close. But he is of the left - in American terms at least - and that, cyclically, is how it must be. He opens a space that is thus far uninhabited. He may well be destroyed by the rabid neocon thugs. But I hope not and so does everybody I know.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 1:20 pm