TESTING THE PRESIDENT October 23, 2008Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
Joe Biden created a stir by suggesting that the newly elected president would face an international test within six months of his election.
I am not sure about the Cuban Missile Crisis analogy, but in essence he right, and the likely challenges are good measures to assess the candidates for president and vice president.
Four major challenges are apparent, and there may be others. Firstly, there is the financial crisis, which is unlikely to go away, and to which there has to be a political solution, so the character of the president and the decision making process will be at issue. One of the problems with the American system, despite a direct question during the final debate nobody has suggested who the Treasury Secretary will be, a position following the bailout legislation that has dictatorial powers. The current administration will be running the shop for six weeks after the election. Because this became instantaneously a global financial crisis, it is likely to lead to fundamental realignments in the long term, and presumably the United States shrink in comparative significance, with other players, in particular Europe, assuming a greater role. This outcome has take ten to fifteen years to transpire. The gyration in the stock markets may continue beyond the next six months.
Secondly, there is now, it would seem to me, a fiscal or budgetary crisis combined with a governmental crisis, following the wrecking of the Bush Administration. One commentator, who should know, declared that the US is broke. The solutions might be to increase tax collections on one side and reduce expenditures on the other. What is overlooked in reducing taxes for the rich is that they have the most access to tax reductions schemes that other taxpayers. A GST would probably be too radical, and cut across State and Local taxes. The critical choice might come down to a choice between social spending and military spending.
Thirdly, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan are tanking, even after being extraordinary drains on the treasury. It looked, yesterday, that the Iraqi Cabinet had rejected the status of forces agreement leaving the option of going back to the UN Security Council for permission to stay in Iraq. American withdrawal from Iraq is likely within months. The outstanding question is whether the bases can be saved, or even whether they can be afforded. We will probably find that the tactics and techniques that were deemed good in the short term for the Occupation, were detrimental in the long run for the Iraqi people.
Fourthly, less we forget, there is a global environmental crisis that is getting worse by not being addressed full on – one of the legacies of the Bush Administration. If the issue of carbon emissions and carbon reductions, and other greenhouse gases, are not dealt with in immediate future, the repercussions are going to be both severe, catastrophic and manifold.
Colin Powell has dealt with the question of Sarah Palin’s unfitness for the office of president, so we can forget her. We have this luxury because we are not crazy television stations hawking for advertising revenue. it is truly surprising to me that members of the US Senate, as McCain and Biden are, both with pretensions to expertise in foreign and military affairs can be so limited in their views and understanding. Of the two, the man more likely to be president, McCain, is the least equipped intellectually. McCain seems to have built his political career on his personal myth as a war hero and his wife’s money from her father’s beer fortune. To quote, John Cleese, John McCain is no way good enough to be president.
That my friends leaves Obama. There is cause at least for hope. He may just have the intellect to be president, and the management skill, witness his campaign now going smoothly and effectively for almost two years, to make the US Government work. This is no small task. It is akin to running the Manhattan Project, requiring the combined skills of General Gates and Robert Oppenheimer, although there is eight years of the backwash of Bush and Cheney to overcome. Obama does not have any economic training as such. He will depend on those around him. At least in the selection of vice presidential candidates, he has shown that he was careful, thorough, and politically astute, if as I expect Pennsylvania will be on Obama’s side of the ledger on 4 November. Obama has the legal training to understand the constitutional requirements of government, and perhaps provide a greater chance for Congressional initiatives.
I expect Obama will struggle with the damage done by the Bush-Cheney years, and I doubt he will have the courage, or commitment, to bite the bullet in regard to the military-industrial complex. The new Congress is going to be critical, as it will be in terms of social expenditure, in particular health coverage, education and infrastructure spending. Since Republicans have gone to the dark side of politics, they do not seem to have policies, although McCain did previously suggest that he supported measures to counteract global warming. Still there will be an immediate dividend with the election of Obama, both within the United States with the social achievement that he personally represents, and from goodwill from many other countries, not the least Australia.
Failure in these circumstances is more to be expected than success. Then it comes down to the best bet.
Tom Peter drinks the water in Vermont, and decides to do what his mother told him to do. Judith had these videos on The Being Brand, and now they seem not to be there, so I will put them here: