It’s Obama

CNN projectsthat Obama has exceeded the 2 118 needed for the Democratic party nomination, and as a result (assuming none of his super-delegates change their minds, which they can do) he will be the nominee, and quite possibly the next President of the United States. His nomination could have been expected since his March wins in 8 states consecutively, particularly Wisconsin on February 19, where his win was notable as he won a majority in a number of groups which usually back Clinton (namely Union members, people who earn under $50 000 per year, and self-identified Democrats). Narrow wins in Ohio and Texas and march 4 gave Clinton another life, although following her post Super Tuesday losses it was always going to be a marathon for Hillary to win, and a win that would involve relying on the super-delegates to push her over the limit (for readers who do not know too much about American politics, a good explanation of super-delegates and the Democratic Party primaries is here). To defy the will of the people and select Clinton as the nominee would have provoked a huge backlash from Obama supporters, so I always thought a superdelegte coup at the convention was very unlikely. However, this thin hope provided Clinton with an excuse to soldier on, turning the race into a marathon. By May 7, after loosing North Carolina, and winning Indiana by such a small margin as to make her win meaningless, the writing was on the wall for the Hillary Billary team. Tonight’s result, in the final states to vote, Montana (which Obama won) and South Dakota (where Clinton had a too little too late win) merely confirm what I and anyone else who closely followed the election expected to happen. Unbelievably, Clinton still refuses to concede defeat, burying her head in the sand, or perhaps the remote possibilitythat Michigan and Florida could re-vote, which probably may not be enough to save her.

I have mixed feelings on Obama’s win. Regardless of who won the nomination, I was always going to support McCain for president. And I have long been a strong supporter of McCain, having wanted to see him in the White House for a number of years now. Having to choose between Obama and Clinton for President would be a tough choice. On one hand, there is the big advantage of a person who got to the presidency on his own merits, instead of being married to the right husband. And as someone who believes in meritocracy, and does not like the US tradition of dynastic politics, I was somewhat concerned about Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton for 28 years, with the possibility of Jeff Bush or Chelsea Clinton to follow in future. And much as I hate to judge people on their race, the symbolism of a black President within a generation of segregation is significant. And as Andrew Sullivanpoints out, that an Obama Presidency would be huge boost to freedom in the war on terror, and to America’s soft power. Sullivan writes “if you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about America is in ways no words can”.

However, much as I like the idea of a black President, who would tremendously boost America’s soft power and repair much of the damage to America’s image in the world, I have very serious reservations on his policies. I have already bloggedon his extreme position on abortion, which for me is a very important issue. Inexperience is another issue. With only four years in the Senate and no foreign policy or economic experience (or any executive experience whatsoever), he is considerably less experienced than George W. Bush was when he became President. As David Farrarpoints out on Kiwiblog, despite his rhetoric, he has the most left-wing voting record in the Senate (perhaps indicating close-mindedness), and promises an astonishing half a trillion dollar increase in annual federal government spending. And not only does he want to appease terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, he has his very own terrorist links of his own to Bill Ayers, not to mention a pastor who describes the country Obama aspires to be president of as the “United States of KKK-A”. And not only will his Presidency be bad for America, his opposition to free trade deals means it will be bad for New Zealand as well. Although not much better can be said of Clinton, at least she is competent, and even if she has misguided and flawed policies, she an be trusted to do a competent job at the most basic task of Government, running the country. For that reason, much as I hate to see either as president, I would pick her over Obama.

Fortunately, the one good thing about his win, is that his extreme views could help McCain win in November.

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