Roughan on US Presidential Election

NZ Herald Assistant Editor John Roughan discusses the US elections:

This is more than a fascinating election, it’s a joy to observe because all the serious candidates left in the race seem admirable in their own way. That may change now that Hillary has survived and will play rough to win. But the politics of mutual respect has been a rare treat.

I wonder if we could do it this year. We have two very respectable candidates for Prime Minister.

This is the one part when I think Roughan is in fantasyland. There is not even a small sliver of probability that Labour and Clark will not try and demonise Key.  I mean when Clark was asked on TV if she could name one positive thing about John Key, she couldn’t even manage that.

I watched on television when he clinched the nomination in Texas this week and it struck me that he offers something Clinton and Obama do not.

They promise “change”, by which they mean more than a change of party in power but possibly not much more than a change of the race or gender of the President.

Ignore their faces, listen to their rhetoric, and you hear fairly standard policy speak from Clinton and great oratory – but only oratory – from Obama.

Listen to McCain and you might wonder whether he is a politician at all. Open your eyes and the impression is confirmed. He fails all the superficial tests of US politics. He looks old, sounds soft, dresses badly, grins like a chump. And his speeches are modest, reasonable, almost self-effacing but firm and clear in commitments that are not necessarily popular.

Indeed McCain avoids the populist route.

In Michigan where the depressed car industry has left high unemployment, McCain alone had the courage to tell audiences, “the old jobs are not coming back”.

He believes in free trade which is reason alone to pray for his victory, especially when Clinton and Obama are playing up fears and suspicion of foreign competition and corporate behaviour.

They don’t mean it; trade fear is standard feed for the Democrat Party base who vote in primaries. Obama and Clinton have shown themselves to be conventional politicians in that sense, while McCain has stood up to a pounding from his party’s conservative core.

I think the pundits who claim McCain have no chance at all in the general election will be surprised.  I am not predicting a winner, but I think it will be a very competitive race.

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