Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Competence Factor

I'm not going to list the top 10 reasons to vote for Hillary.

Though I might well do so, because my previous list -- "top 10 reasons to support Obama" -- was not an endorsement of Obama. Frankly, I'm not at all happy with having to choose between Obama and Hillary. I thought John Edwards was by far the superior candidate. He put forward some bold ideas. I'm ticked off that as a result of its biased coverage of the race, the US media essentially excluded Edwards.

Hillary has painted the contest between herself and Obama as being about "experience." That theme still resonates with me. As for American voters, I suspect the overriding problem they detect with respect to the administration of George W. Bush boils down not to ideology, but to a lack of basic leadership competence. To a large extent, I concur with this sentiment. I am hopeful for a new American consensus (however modest): the US absolutely needs to be run by a grown up person.

Black or white, male or female: I could not care less. I am completely unmoved by identity politics. Over and over, I find myself coming back to the same question: Would Obama would be a competent leader?

I hesitate to make this analogy, but eight years ago George Bush was the fresh young hope of American conservatives. He had achieved very little, had little by way of life experience, but he had certain image or aura about him. George had a swagger and straight way of talk'n.

Obama is not George Bush. For one thing, he comes across as far more intelligent. But like George W. Bush in 2008, Obama is largely an unknown quantity. The competence of Barack Obama to lead a country of 300 million people -- and to a large extent the other 6 billion people on the planet -- remains a big question mark.

In eight years Hillary Clinton, by almost any account, has made herself a power to be reckoned with in the US Senate. She's a national leader in her own right. We may not find her inspiring, but she seems battle hardened and politically savvy. She does have her ideals -- even if she's had to compromise plenty along the way. Her policy platform is focused and concrete -- especially with regards to health care.

Can this much be said with confidence about Barack Obama?
Summarizing: As best I understand it, Obama is running a campaign based "hope." He's not running on bold ideas. He can't claim experience. So his candidacy boils down to the promise of a new style. It's an image thing. On the other hand, Hillary has at least as many ideas as Obama, has a strong claim to experience, and she can appeal to 1990s nostalgia as the county heads into a deep recession. After eight years of Bush, I think the Competence Factor will count when Americans vote in November. Hillary's got that.


  1. Well said! You produced some very valid points and I hope that Hillary Clinton comes through. Thanks for making it easy for me to understand. I'm new to american politics but I'm excited about being there for the Nov. elections.

  2. Very astute commentary. Competence counts and Hillary has it. But either Obama or Clinton would be acceptable after eight years of Bush.


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