Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Norman Berke on Obama vs. McCain

The Main Point received this missive with astute analysis of the election ahead via a friend of its author, Norman Berke. Berke writes:

Now back in France, where there is a somewhat
different take on the candidates.

As I have said before, I believe there are very
few real "undecideds" among the electorate. This is a 
contrarian view, since just about all the analysts
still keep talking about the independents as a
sizable force whose vote is up for grabs. There are,
indeed, independents and moderates out there. But not
undecideds in sufficient numbers that could make a
difference either way. Now, that is my opinion, and I may be stuck with it. 

Again, as I have said, if the election were to be
held tomorrow, the result would be the same as it will
be in Nov. But in the meantime, we just don't have that crystal ball.

I base my opinion on two reasons: 

 Firstly, the present-day, persistent polarization
of the electorate, driven by the disputed election of
2000, carried over into 2004. And secondly, the
long, drawn-out Hillary and Obama campaigns, which have
defined all the issues, as well as dragging in the
 Repubs, so that we poor citizenry will be left
with nothing but sound and fury, signifying not very
much, all the way to Nov.

The following reasons are the basis of my belief that
the demographics favor Obama and why I believe he
will be elected.

1. I start with the Bush-Rove coalition of 
rock-ribbed Repubs, socially and otherwise conservative,
allied with the Christian evangelicals - a powerful
voting bloc that contributed mightily to the last two
 elections. In spite of grumblings, if not outright
rejection, of the maverick Mccain, and signs of
the evangelists turning away from politics for other
 causes, they still have no place else to go, so I
 would count them solidly in the Republican camp.

2. However, one different thing this time around
is the emergence of a countervailing force, an
equally powerful bloc --- the black vote. Yes,
traditionally democratic. They voted 70% for Kerry, I believe,
but in '08 many more of them will vote and it will be
99% pure. I believe this will pretty much neutralize 

3. The primaries have indicated that the Reagan 
Dems are still a Republican asset, and maybe a little
stronger because of the color problem.

4. Somewhat off-setting that is the
dissatisfaction and intense dislike now existing among the more
moderate republicans, especially over the war, and
among women voters. When polls consistently show
that 80% of voters think the country is on the wrong
track, more than a few Bush supporters have already made
up their minds to switch. Mccain may be the answer
for the majority but by no means all. There is plenty
of anecdotal evidence to support this.

5. Then, of course, there is the usual Democratic
 base. After all, the popular vote in the last two
elections was very close. Much has been made
 about the Hillary base deserting, especially women. I
thoroughly disagree. Democratic women are not
going to vote Republican.

6. Then there is the most phenomenal happening of
all, at least in my opinion. That is the
Democratic turnout in the primaries, surely a
party aroused and committed. Along with the '06
congress results, that signals to me the shifting of the
dial from right of center to left. Not by much, but it
doesn't have to be much. The Repblican campaign
issue, portraying Obama as a far left liberal out
of the mainstream, simply won't wash with the broad 
electorate who are looking for reforms in health
care, mortgage and wall street mis-steps, among others.
 It will turn out that it is the Repblicans who are out
of the mainstream.

7.Finally, I have never known an electorate that
 voted to keep a party in power during hard times. 
Electorally, the Democrats will win all the states
 Kerry won, and I predict they will squeak by in Ohio,
 but even if not, states in play as Va.,N.C., N.M.
 Col.. and a few others will break mainly Democratic.

So what does McCain have to offer? Quite a bit,
actually, as of now. The maverick and straight
shooter image adds up to an appealing persona
and brand, something which Obama has yet to achieve.
But his supporters are counting on him getting there,
and we think he will, over the next several months.
Also, MacCain has many vulnerabilities, which will be
revealed over that same time frame. How he
balances the far right stance while he goes for the center
will be interesting to watch. 
How he sheds the warrior image, which will be hung
on him, is another. A thesis he wrote at the War
College shortly after his release from prison in
Viet Nam is very revealing. In it, he points to
the anti-war sentiment at home as damaging the morale
of the troops. His suggestion is that in addition to
the usual training, soldiers should be indoctrinated
in foreign affairs so that they will understand
more fully what their mission is. But whose attitude
to foreign affairs, other than what the administration
in power is spinning? Nowhere does he refer to the
false premise upon which the Viet Nam war was based,
i.e. that if we fought communism in that country, we
would prevent the domino effect throughout the region.
And for that, 50,000 Americans died. It so happens
 that the war's critics were on the right side of
 history, and MacCain was on the wrong side. His stance on
Iraq is the mirror image. In other words, it's a mind
set of "My country, right or wrong", a fatal flaw in
 leadership which leads to fatal consequences.

It seems to me this is exactly the kind of
leadership we desperately don't need or want at
this juncture in our world, or in our nation's,
history. It's up to the American people to decide.

Your comments, welcome.

Norman Berke

Norman Berke, a new contributor to The Main Point, is a retired businessman and a nonagenarian blogger. He resides in Florida and the south of France.

Many thanks to the estimable Christopher Maclehose for passing it along to us.

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