Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thoughts on the Florida Primary

John McCain won the Florida Republican primary yesterday. For what its worth he seems to be the best of a bad lot, so I suppose that I am rooting for him to be the Republican presidential candidate this year. Not that I am rooting for the Republicans to win in November, but of all the Republican candidates he seems to be the sanest and has the most realistic world-view. His mindless support for the US war in Iraq is troubling, but let’s face it, there is no way that the US can pull its troops out of Iraq without that country, and perhaps that entire region, descending into chaos, so we really have no choice but to stay and help clean up the mess that the botched occupation made. John McCain has the military experience to realize that this will not be an easy job, which is better than some of the other Republican hopefuls who seem to have a bit of a Pollyanna view of the occupation. If we are going to stay in Iraq we may as well be realistic about it. We need to take on advisory and security roles and not try to impose a political or social system on the country. We also need to recognize that the country may not survive and prepare for that possibility. What we need to avoid is getting drawn into protracted combat operations where one faction in the country is attacking one of the other factions. We also need to recognize that we are there to keep the country, and region, stable. We are not there to promote democracy or export freedom, or fight terrorism. John McCain is the only Republican who appears to understand this.

On the Democratic side Florida was supposed to be a non-event. Florida lost its Democratic delegates because it held its primary earlier than the Democratic Party wanted, so all of the Democratic candidates had pledged not to campaign there. For the most part the candidates honoured that. The problem was that Hillary Clinton ran a ghost campaign that essentially said “I am not campaigning, but if I were then this is what I would be saying”. For the most part I think that Clinton would make a good president, and I would be happy to support her if she becomes the Democratic candidate, but things like this make me worry that she is not an honest person. She won in Florida with 50% of the vote. Obama got 33%, and the rest split the vote between them. What really worries me is that Clinton and Obama will battle this out to the bitter end, and that the battle will get more and more bitter as it goes on. This will benefit no-one except the Republicans. The increasingly nasty fighting between the two camps will just weaken the Democratic Party, disillusion their supporters, and provide ammunition for the the right when the presidential campaign starts. Please, Democrats, stop! Both of these people will make good presidents. Let the primary system do its job and stop slinging mud at each other. A Democratic victory in November is not a sure thing. In fact, it is quite possible that the Democrats will collapse on the campaign trail and the Republicans will win again.

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