Thursday, 1 December 2011

Those Wacky Colonials

Earlier this week I had a brief email exchange with an American political journalist, and he asked me if I had any particular insights on how the upcoming presidential election (now only eleven months away and its attendant mishigas was viewed across the pond.

After chewing the question over for a little while, I wondered whether I'm necessarily well-placed to answer this question, since I spend far more time listening to Americans describe their political system than I do to British people trying to interpret it. 

So, perhaps you can help me out.  Any answers to some or all of the following queries would be greatly appreciated:

1. What do you think of President Obama's first three years in charge?

2. What (if anything) do you think of the Republicans currently vying for the right to be his opponent year, and do you have an opinion of which one will (or should) be chosen?

3. What do you think are the chances of Obama retaking the Oval, and is that something you'd want to happen?

Please note that "I don't know nuffink" and "I couldn't give two shits" are both entirely acceptable answers. If it turns out no-one on this side of the Atlantic could care less who gets to put his feet up on the resolute desk, then that's still useful information.


Brutal Snake said...

1. Went in with expectations sky high, didn't meet them but did a fairly good job all things considered. Healthcare bill a particular triumph. Suffered from Republican brinksmanship over the deficit.

2. I find most Republicans to be so far to the right of batshit insane its difficult to have a coherent opinion but Huntsman is the only one who doesn't make quake in terror at the thought of them being president; this might be because he's kept the lowest profile though.

3. Pretty high, given the opposition, but then I'm not judging them on the same criteria as the people who actually get to vote, so I might be overestimating his chances.

Tomsk said...

I usually take an interest in the race by this stage but I can't say it's grabbed me yet this time, probably because European politics is so much more dramatic at the moment. So my thoughts don't stray very far from the conventional wisdom:

1. He's a victim of his own hype, so that his genuine achievements are obscured by disappointment that he's not the second coming of FDR. If it wasn't for Global Financial Crisis Part One he would probably be riding high in the polls right now. But the traits that seemed so refreshing when compared to Bush (caution, reason, desire to find consensus) have not been very useful for overcoming Republican intransigence or facing up to the great economic challenges of the times.

2. I assume Romney will reluctantly be chosen once all the crazier candidates have been ruled out in turn. Certainly he's the one they should pick if they want to win.

3. Depends on two things. First, who the Republicans pick. If it's one of the ultra-crazies I'd give Obama at least an 80% chance, if it's moderately crazy Romney more like 50/50, all other things being equal. Second, whether the Eurozone crisis is solved. If the Euro collapses and we all go back into deep recession then Obama is toast no matter who the Republicans pick. Obviously I would prefer this not to happen!

So perhaps my one insight is that the race is, unusually, at the mercy of external events that the US has little influence on. It would be interesting to know to what extent the American media have picked up on this.

darkman said...

1. He didn't close Gitmo as promised. It's good that americans have a better access to health care than they did before but the fact that Obama still holds people imprisoned without trial (including for a period a child soldier: kinda overshadows that.
2. Idiots? So far they have been too busy fighting amongst themselves to be any real threat.
3. Unless Obama is caught praying towards Mecca with a copy of his kenyan birthcertificate in his backpocket I think his chances are pretty good.

Gooder said...

I'm actually quite glad Gitmo is still opening. If it's closed they ain't just going to let everyone go. They'll disappear into the American prison system somewhere.

Whilst it is certainly not a good thing that these people are being held without trial at least at the moment they are fairly 'visible'. They'll just disappear of the facility is closed

SpaceSquid said...

"Letting them go" wasn't the aim. The aim was to allow the inmates access to the American judicial system, something that Guantanamo was specifically designed to circumvent, and which couldn't legally be done once the inmates were moved to US soil.

Of course, one could make the argument that the Obama administration would try to circumnavigate those laws in some other way, but it would be a lot tougher to do "under the radar."

In any case, whilst I share darkman's annoyance that Gitmo is still up and running, both the Republicans and Democrats in congress made it very clear that it was never going to happen.