My neighborhood in Chicago is notionally Democratic. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 20 to 1 or more. It is operationally independent, indeed, one politically connected neighbor characterized a Democrat in this neighborhood as an independent who wants his or her trash picked up.
My neighborhood went for Bush in 2004, Gore in 2000, Clinton in 1996, Bush in 1992, and Bush in 1988.
There are virtually no political signs in my neighborhood. There are very few Obama signs. There are very few McCain signs. There are very few signs for local politicians. There are very few political signs period.
It isn’t always this way. I can recall elections in which half or more of the yards had political signs. I suspect that the lack of signage reflects two things: the conviction that Illinois will go for Obama (which reduces both campaigns’ interest in the state) and my neighbors’ ambivalence about the election.
Over the last couple of weeks several of my neighbors have sought me out to solicit my opinion of the candidates and the campaigns, perhaps in the hope of forming their own opinions, perhaps because they know I’m interested in such things. I’ve given it, somewhat reluctantly: I don’t think much of either candidate.
Last night’s debate did nothing to change my mind. I’m sure that some of Sen. McCain’s partisans will be heartened by his increased willingness to take the debate to Sen. Obama. I thought he looked singularly uncomfortable in doing so.
Historically, the candidate better able to convey a vision of America and its bright future, interweaving his own life story into the narrative, has won the election. Neither of the two major party candidates are of that stamp and I don’t care for either one as president.
Sen. Barack Obama is not qualified to be president. His greatest victories in life have been in being elected to offices not serving in them. When I’ve pointed that out to his supporters, they’ve pointed to lists of the bills he introduced in the Illinois Senate or the U. S. Senate. Closer examination showed me that the highlights among those pieces of legislation were never enacted into law or meaningless feel-good pablum. These are aspirations rather than accomplishments.
In my view Sen. Obama’s supporters confuse qualification with aptitude. I have the aptitude to be president of General Electric. The board of directors of GE would have to be crazy to give me that job—I have neither the experience nor the temperament.
Temperament is the area in which I’m least satisfied with Sen. John McCain. I just don’t think he has the temperament to be president. While some of what he has to say strikes the right notes, it seems to me that his first reactions to events, notably the financial crisis, are off-key.
I think it’s more than likely that Barack Obama will be elected president. The fundamentals favor it, particularly popular uncertainty about the economy which historically has tended to favor Democrats. John McCain has run a remarkably flaccid campaign. I lean, ever so slightly, towards voting for Obama. At this point my preference would be to vote No.