james debate
james debate

Wednesday 27 August 2008

In recent days political pundits will have noticed the polls indicating a tighter and tighter race for the presidency. Indeed right now the Republican party is celebrating the fact that they are now only a little bit behind Obama (something which seems to say a lot about the state of the Republican party itself!).

Theories abound for why this might be the case, but one idea which has been continually sledgehammered into our minds is the notion of 'experience' and how John McCain is better equipped to lead our country and deal with foreign affairs than his opponent. A reasonable point on a superficial level, but one which makes little sense upon analysis.

One of the most obvious things that comes to mind in consideration of this thought is why hasn't this ever been an issue before? No one seemed to care about Bush Jr's lack of high level experience when he ran for President. Similarly Bill Clinton didn't suffer for his 'inexperience', despite being even younger than Obama when he first ran for President. In fact Clinton ended up being one of the better President's in recent times.

The fact is that this is just a slur that is being pushed by the Republican mud slingers (which at last count made up about 95% of the Republican party's campaign efforts) for the simple reason that McCain doesn't have a whole lot else to brag about. He is one of the least exceptional candidates we have had in many many years and, faced against an inspirational opponent in Barack Obama, has been forced to clutch for straws to find something to base his campaign on.

But forgetting this, even if we do decide that 'experience' is a crucial part of the job, what kind of experience are we actually talking about?

Is it McCain's knowledge of foreign politics and history? Quite frankly there must be thousands of university graduates out there with as much expertise on the subject as John 'Wayne' McCain. How has his first hand real life experience helped him?

Let's not forget that McCain has been wrong on Iraq every step of the way. Not just in his hilariously incorrect assertion that Iraq shares a border with Pakistan. Not just in his essay on Iraq, that was Rejected by the New York Times. McCain was wrong to support the Iraq war in the first place, when Obama was brave enough to stand against it; and more recently his continued rejection of an Iraq timetable has been called into more and more criticism as Obama's set timetable has been embraced, first by the Iraqi Government itself, and then even bythe Republican party's own BUSH ADMINISTRATION. One has to wonder indeed, will McCain still refer to a timetable as 'defeat'? Of course he won't, because as time goes on McCain is more and more shifting his policy on iraq to match Obama's.

Even more disturbing than his complete lack of capacity to deal with Iraq is his recent response to the crisis in Georgia. Georgia started off matters by attacking and killing masses of civilians in the breakaway South Ossetia region, formerly a part of Georgia. Russia ran in to defend the area, then took things much too far by pushing into Georgia as retaliation.

The difference in each candidate's response to this matter is vast. Obama as far back as a year ago warned of the unstable nature of the region and the possible fallout that might ensue from a Georgian invasion of South Ossetia. He recognized the complicated nature of the situation this summer as well as Georgia began their onslaught and Russia retaliated. This was a measured and intelligent response showing awareness of the political dilemma in the region.

By contrast, McCain released all his pent up frustration from the cold war (he even made the cold war a focus of his speech) by unleashing his vitriol and fire at the Russians, painting them as the big evil in the world and claiming Georgia were the 'voice of democracy' in Asia and suddenly our best friends as a result. This of course had nothing to do with McCain's personal friendship with the president of Georgia. Then again this isn't the first time the Republicans have tried to use personal motives to spur us on to conflict with another nation. On top of this McCain's claim that Russia were the initial aggressors demonstrates that either he's getting his news from the Georgia propaganda network or that he was simply unaware of the breakaway nature of the region. If all this wasn't enough it has recently been revealed that McCain plagiarized his speech from Wikipedia which goes down as one of the funniest gaffes he has yet come up with.

While Obama had the foresight to warn us about this catastrophie months ago, McCain had to trawl wikipedia for basic information on the country he pretended to be so passionate about supporting. Is this the benefit of 'experience'?

All in all I think we can be thankful that McCain was not president during these proceedings, Lord knows what might have happened with such wild and unrestrained escalation between the American and Russian governments. Let's just hope we don't ever have to find out.

The White House has disagreed with him. Our allies have disagreed with him. He has been wrong time and time again on all foreign issues in recent times. Next time he tries to tell us about all his 'experience', just remember that all he really has is experience of being wrong.

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