Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Looking at the wrong things

It's rather depressing that so much more attention is being paid to the Democrat race than the Republican one. It's thoroughly indicative of the priorities of modern journalism too. On the face of it, of course, the Democrat primaries are fascinating - a charismatic young black senator and the first serious female contender for President. But that's all it is. On policy, where they're not completely silent, they're indistinguishable. Clinton has focused so strongly on not frightening the horses over the past eight years that it's almost impossible to say what she is actually in favour of. Obama, on the other hand, has an extremely effective line in rhetoric, but remains dumb on the serious policy front.
Looking across at the Republicans - the five old white men as they have been described - and although the visuals aren't as arresting, nor the backstories so intriguing, the actual politics is far more absorbing. Every wing of the party is represented, from the evangelical populism of Mike Huckabee, through the patrician establishment of Mitt Romney, to the tough practicalities of Giuliani to the maverick outsider of John McCain. All of them have real, thought-out policies and all of them are prepared to argue about them. Look at the flashpoints of the two campaigns. For the Democrats it's Clinton not being sufficiently effusive about Martin Luther King or crying in a bookshop. For the Republicans it's disagreements about immigration policy, about taxation, about Iran - about policy. People who say how dull they find the Republican race are looking at it solely as a beauty pageant - and beautiful it is not.

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