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Has a Titan Emerged in the US Presidential Elections?
by Newropeans-Magazine
2008-10-29 08:39:37
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My sister Holly and I have a fairly solid relationship although we have hardly lived under the same roof for decades! We certainly do not always think alike, nor do we expect to be clones of each other’s thoughts, hopes or fears. But Holly has stood by me during some difficult and turbulent moments, and I have always considered her as my older young sister!

So what, the reader might ask me now? Of what interest is this family relationship to the article? Well, Holly is American, and like millions of other US citizens, she will vote on 4th November to choose the 43rd president of what I still candidly consider as the country with the most promising set of global values. But like many fellow citizens, Holly also happens to be undecided about her choice - John McCain & Sarah Palin or Barack Obama & Joe Biden?

As an EU citizen, I do not enjoy the right to vote in the forthcoming elections. But also as an EU citizen, I might import a more removed - and perhaps less subjective - viewpoint. So, Holly, this is what your brother thinks about your choice! 

Now that the two presidential, and one vice-presidential, debates are over, it is evident that there was no fatal knockout blow by either candidate. But we are less than two weeks shy of the final outcome, and so decisions should now become sharper. My own conviction has not altered much in that the elections are being played out on four overarching themes, namely war, race, religion and wealth. In all those four areas, I have deep misgivings about McCain’s approach, judgment and demeanour let alone about those of his running mate. You and I have discussed this matter during our Skype conversations, but I would like to point out that McCain spells for me a troubling continuation of US federal policies pursued of the past eight years. I do not wish to stray into colour-blind polemics about character-assassinations, fear-mongering and patriotism, but I would like to add that I am concerned when McCain talks about Iraq in terms of victory and continued military presence despite the fact that the Iraqis themselves let alone many Americans and most Europeans are fed up with this ill-advised imbroglio. I am also worried about the flip-flop attitude that McCain has exhibited toward the economic crisis affecting us all with its crunches, bail-outs, partial re-nationalisations of financial institutions, rising inflation and unemployment. We need someone at the helm with a steady hand let alone a formidable team of first-class advisers to steward us through those difficult years.

Now, as I wrote in my previous article some two weeks ago, I am troubled by Obama’s opacity in real political terms. I cannot foretell what kind of a president this orator would make, and in some sense remain also unnerved that he is always so calm and didactic - a tad too analytical for my liking. After all, was it not David Brooks from the New York Times who compared him yesterday to a homeostasis machine? Yet, I am equally swayed by his untroubled self-confidence and stability as key components of what a president needs these days to wrestle with the momentous challenges ahead.

Holly, I do not know what box you would tick in the end - and I frankly should not know either. I somehow do not envy you the critical choice you need to make since my own preferences always lay elsewhere and never became real anyway. But I am a lawyer too, so let me point out four obiter dicta that you might find helpful as you mull over the future of your country:

  • It is the office that makes the man, not the other way round. As such, I would not worry unduly about presidential executive decisions going too wild off the rails since both candidates would need to adhere to a set of normative rules. However, it is the leeway they use in decision-making processes that marks the difference between leaders and followers - either by helping heal our world or making it an even more dangerous future place for all our kids;
  • I would think not only of the future president, but also of his running mate. The Veep, as you Americans call it, is a breath away from the presidency and so you should also think which one inspires more confidence in you;
  • It is disingenuous to scare people by claiming that having the president and the two houses from the same political colour would be too partisan and not democratic enough for equable decisions. We in the UK have managed it quite well, I think, but just consider what happens when the president and the two houses bicker all the time? Decisions cannot be taken and the country drifts southward. A spot of monochromatic policy-shaping might just be helpful;
  • Finally, being a mother, are you happier with the values of the 20th century that McCain brings with him as a war veteran or would you rather move forward with Obama’s 21st century style of management and conflict resolution? 

Holly, I am not too sure you can turn into a female version of Joe the Plumber when weighing up your Republican or Democratic choices. But I wish you and your country well since one of the ironies of the recent financial meltdown is that America remains a major global power - even when its power turns negative, and even when it makes some bad choices.

In the final analysis, and as in most matters, I trust your judgment. So good luck for the red-letter day!

Dr Harry Hagopian
International Lawyer & Political Analyst 
London - UK

© hbv-H October 2008

Visit his blog: www.epektasis.net

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Emanuel Paparella2008-10-29 09:34:24
It is obvious where the sympathies of the advising brother lie and he certainly has every right to give counsel to one's younger sister. However, it bears pointing out that one of the accusation against Kerry four years ago, which contributed in part to his defeat, was that he was an effete European who spoke French and was not wholly American. Ridiculous I know, but the point was made and it was this: people who live thousands of miles away on another continent should be more humble about offering political advice from an alledgegdly superior cultural stance. The Greeks did a lot of that to the Romans by reminding them that they might have the power but they still had the culture..., and of course the Romans promptly dismissed the advice by pointing out to the Greeks that their time had passed and the Romans were in charge now; they kept the power and the Greeks consoled themselves with culture. It is uncanny how history repeats itself, especially among people who do not know their own history.

Alexandra Hussein Pereira2008-10-31 04:13:52
Let Dr. Harry Hussein Hagopian give his advices in peace, Mr. Hussein P.

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