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Monday, February 04, 2008

Playing History Scrabble To Help With The Future



With the presidential primaries reaching a climax on February 5th, I feel at this point that I am paddling in circles within the Sea of Insanity. At the time of writing, many candidates have withdrawn, essentially leaving four: John McCain, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.

The Republican race appears to be McCain's to lose. After Tuesday the pundits will start speculating on who McCain will choose as a running mate. Time will tell on that one.

The Democrats have a more interesting dynamic going on. One is the first serious woman candidate for the presidency; the other the first black American to do so. Both are very intelligent people; both have egos large enough to sustain them through the process they are now going through.

So, who would not only be the better candidate, but who would make the better president? Democrats seem split 50/50 on this right now. Sen. Obama is charismatic; he actually DOES transcend many things that heretofore have separated Americans. His problem is that he is still rather unknown on specifics. His rhetoric is wonderful; he's one of the finest public speakers I've heard in a long time. How that would translate into effectiveness as a president is obviously debatable.

Hillary Clinton has many attributes that would suit her well. She's determined, intelligent, and obviously not afraid of planting her boot in the backside of those who need a little motivation. Her being a woman with those characteristics may alienate those who prefer women who are demure and silent. I, for one, do not. Ego and aggressiveness are necessary for a chief executive. Margaret Thatcher had it in spades, and she is a lady nonetheless.

Sen. Clinton's millstone is her husband. And this is where the history scrabble comes in. Suppose that we could swap the terms of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. How would the two decades...the 90's and this one...have been different?

Here we run into a bit of a quandary. What makes the difference, the presidents or the times themselves? The 90's were to a great extent a fallow period, almost exactly spanning the fall of Soviet communism (but not communism itself) and the arrival of the Paranoid Period on 9/11/2001.

President Bush would have revelled in the 90's. Oil probably would have risen in price no matter world markets, but otherwise he would have been smack in the middle of a time that favored the conservative cycle. It's doubtful that he would have invaded that many countries, although what action he would have taken in Haiti or Afghanistan would have been more forceful than Mr. Clinton's was.

President Clinton, on the other hand, would probably have done much better in this decade. During his second term he would have been able to take advantage of the slow swing from the conservative to the liberal cycle. With all due respect, Clinton's savvy and intelligence far surpass that of George W. Bush, and his handling of many post 9/11 factors would have been much different, and more than likely better.

History might read like a story; all that happened in the past seems inevitable. Yet that is not so. History is flux; a constant change that requires adaptation by the people living it. We are not the same people we were at the time of our birth, and neither is our nation. A century from now the United States will be much more different still.

Our last two presidents were, in my opinion, the wrong people at the wrong times. THIS election is one of the most important in decades, because whoever it is must be the RIGHT person for the RIGHT time.

Sen. McCain I'll look at more carefully in the future. As for the choice between Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton it's almost a toss-up. I have greater hope for Obama than Clinton. Yet all the same I've changed my mind about moving to Canada if Hillary Clinton moves into the White House.

Sen. Clinton's biggest failing is this: she has not developed her own identity. That is why Bill is a burden. For if she becomes the nominee....if she becomes the president, then it must be made clear that a Clinton II administration is politically divorced from her husband's.

If the odds favor a Democrat being our next president, then I would warn both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton of one thing:

Our best presidents made major decisions with an eye on history itself. It's a much better guidepost than polls or pundits. We, as individuals, come and go. The republic itself is sustained by wise decisions.

We've had enough bad ones lately.

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