In just ten days either Sen. John McCain or Sen. Barack Obama will be elected president of the United States. Of that there can be little doubt. I’m still struggling with a decision on which candidate I’ll vote for because, simply and more coarsely than I generally express myself, both candidates suck.
The case against John McCain is pretty easy to state. First, he’s a Republican and the last eight years of a Republican White House, Senate, and House of Representatives have not covered the GOP with glory. John McCain has not distanced himself enough from George W. Bush and in all fairness it’s darned hard to do so given that John McCain could never have gotten the Republican nomination without voting with his party and the president a good deal of the time.
Second, I am not an interventionist of either the conservative or liberal stamp and he’s too bellicose for me. Sen. McCain’s public statements have left me with the impression that his reflexive, hip-shot response to any foreign policy challenge is the use of force.
Third, John McCain’s executive or managerial experience goes back to his Annapolis training and his experience as a naval officer. It’s something but it’s not the sort of military experience that’s usually considered a credential for the presidency. He’s not a Ulysses Grant or Dwight Eisenhower.
Fourth, his economic reflexes are wrong. He has spent his entire life dependent on government and comes from a family that has done so for generations. He has an unrealistic idea of the power of markets, seeing them where there are no markets.
Finally, I’ve started to question whether John McCain is temperamentally suited for the presidency. I don’t believe that he’s as volatile as his political opponents are painting him but I do think that he has a sort of Top Gun streak to his character.
Don’t take away the impression that I think that Barack Obama is any better. I don’t.
The consolidated case against Barack Obama has been stated pretty well at Hot Air. When stripped of partisan persiflage and guilt by association it can be stated pretty simply.
First, if Sen. Obama’s advice on Iraq had been heeded two years ago it’s my assessment that the world would be worse off than it is now. That cancels out his judment on Iraq of six years ago (which I agreed with). He has repeatedly demonstrated that he’s a foreign policy tyro, from his feckless ideas about trade liberalization, about which the best thing that can be said is that he’s merely being an opportunist, to the dumb policy he’s lurched into and tried to talk his way out of on negotiations with Iran. I also have a concern that a President Obama will be so eager to prove that he’s tough and willing to use force that he’s going to pick the wrong fights.
Second, much of his fiscal and economic philosophy seems to be based on equality of outcome, a notion of fairness which IMO is manifestly unfair.
Third, like Sen. McCain he has never run a business, met a payroll, or had budgetary responsibility. My assessment, based on what we’ve seen in the campaign, is that his management style leaves something to be desired. His subordinates apparently do not have a clear idea of their roles or the position of the campaign on issues and, when they exceed their bounds or their usefulness ends, are cut off too quickly. I have no reason to believe that Sen. Obama has ever taken a course in management, business, or economics.
Fourth, Sen. Obama’s resume is very, very slim. Yes, I’ve read the lists of legislation that he’s authored produced by his supporters. I’m not impressed by proclamations, sense of the house legislation, or bills that were never passed into law. When you exclude those there isn’t a great deal left.
Finally, I don’t have any idea whether Barack Obama has the temperament to make a good president. I don’t know whether he’s able to make difficult unpopular decisions. There’s a difference between a consultant and an executive and, while I’m pretty sure Sen. Obama would make a good consultant, I just can’t tell whether he’s an executive and I think that people who say they know are just engaging in wishful thinking.
I think that both Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain are good, decent, honorable men. I think that they’ve found their milieux in the Senate.
In previous elections when I’ve faced such a situation I’ve sometimes voted for third party candidates to register my lack of support for either major party candidate. The situation today is sufficiently serious that I can’t do that in good conscience.
Illinois will undoubtedly go for Obama and, consequently, my vote doesn’t really matter. That that’s the judgment of the campaigns can be inferred from how few campaign posters I see and how little advertising there is here. I suspect that what television advertising there is is actually meant for Indiana voters. Why waste money, time, or energy on Illinois?
But I take this stuff seriously and it makes a difference to me.