Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Sorry Laws of US Campaigning

"Thou shalt insult thy competitors"
"Thou shalt ridicule their previous achievements"
"Thou shalt make up false biographies and smear thy opponents"
"Thou shalt attack thy opponents' families and stoop as low as it takes"

I could go on like this for ages. The list is endless. We all know the tedious, mediocre drill of elections campaigns in the US. They go lower than anyone in the Europe would dare envision, although I have to admit that Sarko, Aznar and the gang have tried their best to emulate the American talent for low, vile, and base campaigning. Better to smear and slander, to use empty but nice sounding slogans than to talk about true things. About political programs, and actually require voters to think about issues. Yeah, thinking is bad, as one of Sarko's goons, Mrs Lagarde, so eloquently put during a memorable speech in the French Assembly: thinking is bad, thinking is dangerous.

Still, as prepared as you can be, there are things that keep surprising you. There seems to be no end to the baseness some candidates can lower themselves to.

This weekend, Barack Obama has crossed the red line, and stepped to the other side. forget about achievements, forget about who likes which part of the US population more, who knows more than whom. It no longer matters.

Mr Obama has been insane enough to call Ronald Reagan's presidency better the Bill Clinton's, and to claim that Ronald Reagan's presidency has made history and made America move, adding that by contrast Bill Clinton's hasn't.

Wow. I have to admit that that one floored me.

Of course, maybe Mr Obama was locked up in a comfortable office during those years. Maybe Mr Obama isn't much aware of the world outside the US borders. If that is the case, let me just say this for the record: in Europe, Ronald Reagan is considered to be the worst president the US ever had in recent history (although W is sure to replace him on that pedestal soon). He was the laughing stock of people, as were those who voted for him and put him in power. Of course, you really don't need to take my word for this little bit of historical consideration. You should, however, take Paul Krugman's, and read his opinion piece in yestderday's edition of the New York Times: Debunking the Reagan Myth.

Now, we have two solutions :
  • either Mr Obama is ignorant of all this, and he should address this blatant lack of knowledge and culture, and then come back and set things straight
  • or Mr Obama is simply lying through his teeth, and he's ready to use just about anything to attack Hillary Rodham
Either way, what Mr Obama did by belittling Bill Clinton's record as president, as Democratic president, while lauding Ronald Reagan's record as president, a Republican president, has a name, be it in politics, in business, in friendly rivalries of all kind and elsewhere: a fault. A bad, really, really bad fault, which in any European country would cost him all chances of victory he might have had once.

In politics and elsewhere, you DO NOT belittle your own party's record while supporting that of your adversaries. Doing so betrays a lack of nerve, a lack of loyalty, a lack of depth and argument that simply render the one who commits him non-credible.

I've been watching Mr Obama's campaign through the newspapers, and though I've been favoring Hillary Ordham from the start, I did try to leave myself room to change my mind and to keep weighing the one against the other. Well, from now on I know I no longer need to do so. Perhaps I should thank Barack Obama for relieving me of my dilemma.

I guess that if I were an American citizen, I'd be a New Hampshire woman. Somehow, I find that to be a rather pleasing image.

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