Philip Giraldi gives us reason to hope when he writes:
I spend a considerable part of every day communicating with others whom I consider to be “real conservatives,” including former military and intelligence officers as well as lifelong Republicans who have never voted Blue. I doubt if many of them have read Russell Kirk or Sam Francis, but conservatism is in their guts. Among them there is considerable buzz about Obama and many are saying that they will vote for him if he is nominated because he is the only candidate who MIGHT leave Iraq and not attack Iran, which they consider the number one and two issues confronting the next president.
A vote for John McCain is an endorsement of nearly everything that George Bush has done for the past eight years, and his election will be every bit as heartbreaking and damaging as that unfortunate man’s re-election in 2004 and will have the effect of confirming for the world, again, that the US public approves of its government’s war policy. Say what you will about McCain, there’s something to this image of him as a straight talker (too bad so much of his “straight talk” suggests the need for a straight-jacket); even when he panders to such as Pastor Hagee he’s so open about the crassness of the move that the whole thing resembles some sort of parody. Meanwhile, as right-thinking folk everywhere obsessed over Hagee’s socially conservative (imagine that!) views no one seemed to care that Hagee’s delusional Christian Zionist millenarian-ism and John McCain’s hundred years of war and occupation and Israel-can-do-no-wrong attitude are in near-perfect harmony.
(As an aside, the comparisons of Hagee/McCain to Wright/Obama are detrimental and should be left to those who’ve already sacrificed objectivity to partisanship–each instance has no relevance to the other, outside of this fabricated calculus of political handicapping that must assign them relative values, the only possible outcome of which is that the disingenuously twinned “controversies” cancel each other out and any insight to be drawn from each individually is lost to the public)
The question for many will be: which Democrat holds out the most promise for some rehabilitation of institutions damaged by Bush/Cheney, starting with a retreat from Iraq and hopefully ending somewhere with a restoration of constitutional guarantees against surveillance and wrongful imprisonment? The task is huge, and Barack Obama has given none of us any real reason to believe he’s anything more than an empty space upon which a diverse and deluded section of America has projected their varying images of a redeeming saviour. We really are just reaching at this point. Some see in Obama the second coming of Camelot, apparently unaware they pine away for a floundering single-term administration that did nothing to arrest any particular negative trend in foreign policy. But if you’re anti-war you must acknowledge that of the three candidates, McCain is by far the more experienced and qualified, and the only one likely to originate policy based on that experience rather than defer to the next ruling cabal of advisors. In McCain vs. Obama we’re left choosing between all we despise and an unknown quantity.
Of course temperament has never been more important (another Bush-years revelation), and we really don’t know Barack Obama, in part due to the system’s eagerness to anoint him and cruelly dispatch with Hillary. It’s understandable why the mortician-like David Axelrod is determined to bury Clinton before we get to know this moody and conflicted man who aspires to be the nation’s first navel-gazer-in-chief (indeed this personal conflict is at the core of his perverse appeal), but why the press seems to share this sentiment is beyond me. We are left hoping the mass-fiction we’ve all had a hand in creating about Obama will, somehow, be true. That this isn’t just another exceptionally ambitious but a truly exceptional man. As presidential power grows, the individual president, whoever he may be, necessarily fades. Call it the Incredible Shrinking President. Ultimately it’s no accident that George W. Bush is as hopelessly inadequate as he is historically powerful.
Barack Obama has given us no reason to believe he’s capable of the level of executive management and policy depth required of a president. I say this acknowledging that he is virtually guaranteed my vote against the far more experienced McCain.
That’s why I take heart in Mr. Giraldi’s characterization, because after the childish fantasia of the Obama Drama fades and it’s time to shut up (okay, little chance of that) and put up, it’s going to take these people in and around the permanent government to do what’s right to get these things done, by supporting the next president where he’s right and opposing him where he’s wrong, and dragging his oblivious fool’s behind along when necessary. Which candidate will be most amenable, understanding their political entanglements, needs and histories, to begin what will essentially be the work of the next decade or more? It becomes not merely a question of policy and ability but of individual political limitations. For instance, will Barack Obama spend his first term proving to the Israel Lobby that he’s no “anti-Semite” and to the military that he’s no wussy? Appealing policy positions taken in the absence of political risk and purity of intention are like lambs to the slaughter of office-holding.
Notably absent still is the American public which has been only too glad to forget about Iraq and accept a little too readily the “surge is working” theme, and largely making no distinctions about the candidates beyond personality, melanin and genitalia.