Daily Archives: November 4, 2008

>What World Needs From US: Economic meltdown, climate change top list of things that are in need of global dialogue

>by Mitch Potter – The Toronto Star
MEMORANDUM:
TO: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
FROM: THE WORLD

We know you are not quite there yet. Whatever. The rest of the planet now has concluded you will be. Your honeymoon suite awaits with a euphoria that spans the globe.

A word of warning, however, before you snuggle in for that first group hug. There are bedbugs. And they bite.

A year of rising expectations is about to fall on your shoulders, with a thundering weight many now predict will buckle you.

Here in London, Simon Jenkins of the Guardian nailed the point, announcing the end of the bull market in Barack.

“Sell Obamas now,” Jenkins advised his readers. “They are overpriced and the forward market has gone crazy. If he becomes president, the bubble will burst, I guess in the spring of next year.”

Your era will begin with some immediate international advantages, it is true. Not least, the sheer glee that your name is not George.

“The first thing the world needs from America is the absence of George W. Bush,” is how François Heisbourg, director of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Studies, framed things in an interview with the Star. “That guarantees a tremendous advantage. And for Obama – I assume it will be him – it will be all the greater.”

How bloated are the expectations? On the waterfront in Barcelona today, artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada and an army of volunteers are shaping a mountain of sand, earth and gravel into a giant portrait of you. This is not a joke.

“The piece is ephemeral, it is not designed to last,” Rodriguez-Gerada told the Daily Telegraph, explaining the artwork, titled “Expectation,” is intended not as praise for you but rather, as a commentary on how desperately the world lusts for the idea of you.

“Who knows if the euphoria surrounding Obama will fade away like sand or lead to something more permanent?”

Many anticipate your first step will be to reboot America’s conversation with the world. A kind of “great cleansing,” in the words of Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS, the journalism think-tank at London School of Economics.

“Right now there is an enormous residual ‘turning off’ when Americans speak. The feeling is that during the Bush era, ‘They caused mayhem, they ignored the world, they didn’t listen to us – so why should we listen to them.’

“Now the conversation will renew. Which is tremendously important for the world. Especially for those of us who believe in America’s place in the world as a force for democracy and freedom.”

That, of course, is the easy part, given your deft oratorical skills. But the going is almost certainly going to get messy soon thereafter, when talk collides with realpolitik. As Heisbourg notes, “America’s national interest is not going to change just because the president changes.”

We got a sense of this in Berlin earlier this summer. Up there on stage, all you could see was a throng of 200,000 people chanting your name. But where we were, down in the crowd, we felt a distinct chill when you spoke of a stepped-up effort in war-weary Afghanistan – a conflict that Germans have just about had their fill of. And the rest of Europe is not far behind.

But Afghanistan may in fact prove the least of your worries, given the cluster of global crises on your morning-after to-do list. Global economic meltdown, far and away, trumps them all. Yet the interconnected issues of climate change and energy burn close behind.

Add to that the whole series of other urgent global challenges, from bioethics to migration to nuclear proliferation, and the task ahead wildly exceeds the bounds of a single brain, even one as well-appointed as yours.

Where to begin? Many of your unofficial global advisers suggest the only way forward is a Herculean act of multitasking. You need to dispatch individual teams on every one of these problems, each with marching orders to map how the United States can lead in crafting – and crucially,obeying – a new global rulebook.

Take solace in two important facts as you go forward. First, know that for now, at least, your name is the gold standard of global goodwill. People want you to succeed. And, most importantly, know that however ridiculous the expectations may be, nobody truly expects you to have the all the answers.

“One of the ways to manage unrealistic expectations is to recognize that the United States doesn’t have to do everything. It doesn’t have to solve all the problems. It just needs to be a constructive global player,” said Ian Goldin, director of the James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University.

Goldin, a former World Bank vice president, said the next leader’s greatest challenge would be to rise above national self-interest. To see the global forest despite the domestic trees, and to understand that what is good for the world will, ultimately, be very good for the U.S.

“It comes down to a question of accepting there will be global rules and to abide by them. The problem with a superpower is that when the world shows you the red card, do you accept the red card or do you play the global bully?” said Goldin.

“That’s why there is so much optimism today. There is a view that the United States now will not only participate very actively in establishing the rules of the game. But also they will be responsible players.”
superpower,

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Filed under Barack Obama, expectations, George Bush, memorandum, Mitch Potter, superpower, The Toronto Star, wars, world economy

What World Needs From US: Economic meltdown, climate change top list of things that are in need of global dialogue

by Mitch Potter – The Toronto Star
MEMORANDUM:
TO: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
FROM: THE WORLD

We know you are not quite there yet. Whatever. The rest of the planet now has concluded you will be. Your honeymoon suite awaits with a euphoria that spans the globe.

A word of warning, however, before you snuggle in for that first group hug. There are bedbugs. And they bite.

A year of rising expectations is about to fall on your shoulders, with a thundering weight many now predict will buckle you.

Here in London, Simon Jenkins of the Guardian nailed the point, announcing the end of the bull market in Barack.

“Sell Obamas now,” Jenkins advised his readers. “They are overpriced and the forward market has gone crazy. If he becomes president, the bubble will burst, I guess in the spring of next year.”

Your era will begin with some immediate international advantages, it is true. Not least, the sheer glee that your name is not George.

“The first thing the world needs from America is the absence of George W. Bush,” is how François Heisbourg, director of the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Studies, framed things in an interview with the Star. “That guarantees a tremendous advantage. And for Obama – I assume it will be him – it will be all the greater.”

How bloated are the expectations? On the waterfront in Barcelona today, artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada and an army of volunteers are shaping a mountain of sand, earth and gravel into a giant portrait of you. This is not a joke.

“The piece is ephemeral, it is not designed to last,” Rodriguez-Gerada told the Daily Telegraph, explaining the artwork, titled “Expectation,” is intended not as praise for you but rather, as a commentary on how desperately the world lusts for the idea of you.

“Who knows if the euphoria surrounding Obama will fade away like sand or lead to something more permanent?”

Many anticipate your first step will be to reboot America’s conversation with the world. A kind of “great cleansing,” in the words of Charlie Beckett, director of POLIS, the journalism think-tank at London School of Economics.

“Right now there is an enormous residual ‘turning off’ when Americans speak. The feeling is that during the Bush era, ‘They caused mayhem, they ignored the world, they didn’t listen to us – so why should we listen to them.’

“Now the conversation will renew. Which is tremendously important for the world. Especially for those of us who believe in America’s place in the world as a force for democracy and freedom.”

That, of course, is the easy part, given your deft oratorical skills. But the going is almost certainly going to get messy soon thereafter, when talk collides with realpolitik. As Heisbourg notes, “America’s national interest is not going to change just because the president changes.”

We got a sense of this in Berlin earlier this summer. Up there on stage, all you could see was a throng of 200,000 people chanting your name. But where we were, down in the crowd, we felt a distinct chill when you spoke of a stepped-up effort in war-weary Afghanistan – a conflict that Germans have just about had their fill of. And the rest of Europe is not far behind.

But Afghanistan may in fact prove the least of your worries, given the cluster of global crises on your morning-after to-do list. Global economic meltdown, far and away, trumps them all. Yet the interconnected issues of climate change and energy burn close behind.

Add to that the whole series of other urgent global challenges, from bioethics to migration to nuclear proliferation, and the task ahead wildly exceeds the bounds of a single brain, even one as well-appointed as yours.

Where to begin? Many of your unofficial global advisers suggest the only way forward is a Herculean act of multitasking. You need to dispatch individual teams on every one of these problems, each with marching orders to map how the United States can lead in crafting – and crucially,obeying – a new global rulebook.

Take solace in two important facts as you go forward. First, know that for now, at least, your name is the gold standard of global goodwill. People want you to succeed. And, most importantly, know that however ridiculous the expectations may be, nobody truly expects you to have the all the answers.

“One of the ways to manage unrealistic expectations is to recognize that the United States doesn’t have to do everything. It doesn’t have to solve all the problems. It just needs to be a constructive global player,” said Ian Goldin, director of the James Martin 21st Century School at Oxford University.

Goldin, a former World Bank vice president, said the next leader’s greatest challenge would be to rise above national self-interest. To see the global forest despite the domestic trees, and to understand that what is good for the world will, ultimately, be very good for the U.S.

“It comes down to a question of accepting there will be global rules and to abide by them. The problem with a superpower is that when the world shows you the red card, do you accept the red card or do you play the global bully?” said Goldin.

“That’s why there is so much optimism today. There is a view that the United States now will not only participate very actively in establishing the rules of the game. But also they will be responsible players.”
superpower,

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Filed under Barack Obama, expectations, George Bush, memorandum, Mitch Potter, superpower, The Toronto Star, wars, world economy

>What To Watch For Tonight

>Political Wire

7 p.m. — Polls close in Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.

If Virginia is called quickly for Obama, it means he likely wins the presidential race and Democrats across the country will have a huge night. If it’s not called early, it’s could be an indication that white undecided voters are breaking to McCain. Prepare for an hour long discussion of the “Bradley effect.” If Georgia or Indiana are called early for Obama, it’s a leading indicator for a landslide.

7:30 p.m. — Polls close in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.

Obama victories in North Carolina or Ohio likely seal the deal for him. An Obama win in West Virginia means start looking for Obama coattails in close House and Senate races.

8:00 p.m. — Polls close in Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

If Pennsylvania is called early for Obama, McCain cannot win. His only real path to the presidency at this point requires he win the Keystone State. An Obama win in Missouri once again means a likely landslide in the electoral college.

9:00 p.m. — Polls close in Colorado and New Mexico.

Polls indicate both of these swing states should go to Obama. Early calls in each state will have Obama racking up electoral votes quickly.

10:00 p.m. — Polls close in Iowa, Montana, and Nevada.

If Obama wins in Montana and Nevada, we’re looking at a possible political realignment of the Mountain West of the United States.

11:00 p.m. — Polls close in California and North Dakota.

California is the biggest state of them all with 55 electoral votes and may put Obama over the top. If the election hasn’t been decided by now, it’s probably become an interesting night for the McCain campaign and Republicans. However, an Obama win in North Dakota means we’re witnessing a landslide.

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Filed under 2008 Presidential Campaign, Barack Obama, John McCain, political wire, Poll Closings

What To Watch For Tonight

Political Wire

7 p.m. — Polls close in Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky.

If Virginia is called quickly for Obama, it means he likely wins the presidential race and Democrats across the country will have a huge night. If it’s not called early, it’s could be an indication that white undecided voters are breaking to McCain. Prepare for an hour long discussion of the “Bradley effect.” If Georgia or Indiana are called early for Obama, it’s a leading indicator for a landslide.

7:30 p.m. — Polls close in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia.

Obama victories in North Carolina or Ohio likely seal the deal for him. An Obama win in West Virginia means start looking for Obama coattails in close House and Senate races.

8:00 p.m. — Polls close in Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

If Pennsylvania is called early for Obama, McCain cannot win. His only real path to the presidency at this point requires he win the Keystone State. An Obama win in Missouri once again means a likely landslide in the electoral college.

9:00 p.m. — Polls close in Colorado and New Mexico.

Polls indicate both of these swing states should go to Obama. Early calls in each state will have Obama racking up electoral votes quickly.

10:00 p.m. — Polls close in Iowa, Montana, and Nevada.

If Obama wins in Montana and Nevada, we’re looking at a possible political realignment of the Mountain West of the United States.

11:00 p.m. — Polls close in California and North Dakota.

California is the biggest state of them all with 55 electoral votes and may put Obama over the top. If the election hasn’t been decided by now, it’s probably become an interesting night for the McCain campaign and Republicans. However, an Obama win in North Dakota means we’re witnessing a landslide.

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Filed under 2008 Presidential Campaign, Barack Obama, John McCain, political wire, Poll Closings

Election Day Message from Middletown’s Pat Walsh


Friends,

Election day has arrived and with it the opportunity for change for our country, our state, our county and my hometown, Middletown.

This campaign has been a great opportunity for me and I am grateful for every minute of it. In meeting and talking to the people, listening to their concerns and struggles, in just finding out that from every corner what a beautiful community Middletown is. I sincerely hope that when the day ends I, along with my running mate, Jim Grenafege will join Pat Short and Sean Byrnes on the committee and be given the opportunity to serve the residents of our community. To create for them a municipal government that is truly transparent, that operates with their best interests at heart and that eases their tax burden. I hope you take this opportunity for change to heart, cast your vpote and pray that we can work together to bring about the the goals we have talked about in this campaign.

Sincerely,

Pat Walsh
Democratic Candidate for Middletown Township Committee

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Filed under Candidates for Township Committee, Election 2008, message, Middletown, Patricia Walsh

Election Day Message from Middletown’s Pat Walsh


Friends,

Election day has arrived and with it the opportunity for change for our country, our state, our county and my hometown, Middletown.

This campaign has been a great opportunity for me and I am grateful for every minute of it. In meeting and talking to the people, listening to their concerns and struggles, in just finding out that from every corner what a beautiful community Middletown is. I sincerely hope that when the day ends I, along with my running mate, Jim Grenafege will join Pat Short and Sean Byrnes on the committee and be given the opportunity to serve the residents of our community. To create for them a municipal government that is truly transparent, that operates with their best interests at heart and that eases their tax burden. I hope you take this opportunity for change to heart, cast your vpote and pray that we can work together to bring about the the goals we have talked about in this campaign.

Sincerely,

Pat Walsh
Democratic Candidate for Middletown Township Committee

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Filed under Candidates for Township Committee, Election 2008, message, Middletown, Patricia Walsh

>Reports of Voting Machine Breakdowns

>I just got in from voting and have heard that there are a number of voting machine that need to be replaced, machines in and around Newark have broken down as well as here in Middletown.

In Middletown, my polling place Harmony School (Distrcit #37),  has one of its two machines down at the moment and the poll workers are waiting for a replacement.  This was a slight problem earlier due to people waiting outside to vote.
As for the other two machines at Harmony Schoolthat are used for District #15 voting, no issues have been reported about them so far. 

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Filed under breakdowns, Distrct #37, District #15, Middletown, Newark NJ, Voting Machines

Reports of Voting Machine Breakdowns

I just got in from voting and have heard that there are a number of voting machine that need to be replaced, machines in and around Newark have broken down as well as here in Middletown.

In Middletown, my polling place Harmony School (Distrcit #37),  has one of its two machines down at the moment and the poll workers are waiting for a replacement.  This was a slight problem earlier due to people waiting outside to vote.
As for the other two machines at Harmony Schoolthat are used for District #15 voting, no issues have been reported about them so far. 

Leave a comment

Filed under breakdowns, Distrct #37, District #15, Middletown, Newark NJ, Voting Machines

Nowhere man: a farewell to Dubya, all-time loser in presidential history

by Simon Schama – the Guardian

“Forgotten but not gone” was the way in which the supremo of Boston politics, Billy Bulger, liked to dismiss the human irritants he had crushed beneath his trim boot. The same could now be said for the hapless 43rd President of the United States as the daylight draws mercifully in on his reign of misfortune and calamity. How is he bearing up, one wonders, as the candidate from his own party treats him as the carrier of some sort of infectious political disease? How telling was it that the most impassioned moment in John McCain’s performance in the final debate was when he declared: “I am not George Bush.”

Where, O where are you, Dubya, as the action passes you by like a jet skirting dirty weather? Are you roaming the lonely corridors of the White House in search of a friendly shoulder around which to clap your affable arm? Are you sweating it out on the treadmill, hurt and confused as to why the man everyone wanted to have a beer (or Coke) with, who swept to re-election four years ago, has been downgraded to all-time loser in presidential history, stuck there in the bush leagues along with the likes of James Buchanan and Warren Harding? Or are you whacking brush in Crawford, where the locals now make a point of telling visitors that George W never really was from hereabouts anyroad.

Whatever else his legacy, the man who called himself “the decider” has left some gripping history. The last eight years have been so rich in epic imperial hubris that it would take a reborn Gibbon to do justice to the fall. It should be said right away that amid the landscape of smoking craters there are one or two sprigs of decency that have been planted: record amounts of financial help given to Aids-blighted countries of Africa; immigration reform that would have offered an amnesty to illegals and given them a secure path to citizenship, had not those efforts hit the reef of intransigence in Bush’s own party. And no one can argue with the fact that since 9/11 the United States has not been attacked on its home territory by jihadi terrorists; though whether or not that security is more illusory than real is, to put it mildly, open to debate.

Bet against that there is the matter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties, more than 4,000 American troops dead, many times that gravely injured, not to mention the puncture wounds and mutilations inflicted on internationally agreed standards of humane conduct for prisoners – and on the protection of domestic liberties enshrined in the American constitution. If the Statue of Liberty were alive, she would be weeping tears of blood.

If Bush himself has been largely kept out of sight, his baleful legacy has been visible in the McCain campaign. McCain has made much of his credentials for independence of mind, a claim which once was credible given his support for immigration reform and opposition to Bush’s tax cuts. But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, all of this became less important than the lessons of the Reagan-Bush-Rove political playbook which, with the exception of the Clinton election of 1992, seemed to have a track record of unbroken success.

McCain knew this from bitter personal experience, having been on the receiving end of Bush lowball politics in the South Carolina primary in 2000. Coming out of a convincing win against George Bush in New Hampshire he was stopped in his tracks by a smear campaign conducted through push-poll phone calls in which people were asked whether they knew that the daughter McCain had adopted from Sri Lanka was in fact the illegitimate child of an affair with a woman of colour. Now you would think McCain could never reconcile himself to a politician capable of those kinds of tactics. But there he was in the campaign of 2004, stumping the country for the incumbent, ingratiating himself with the conservative base he knew he would need, even as his old Vietnam buddy, John Kerry, was being coated in slime by the Swift Boaters.

Whatever misgivings McCain might have had about adopting the hardball tactics of his 2000 adversary have long since disappeared before the blandishments of classic Bush-style operatives like Rick Davis and Stephen Schmidt. “Do you want to be pure, or do you want to win”? they must have asked right after the nomination. Ditching Joe Lieberman as a running mate and unleashing pitbull Palin was his answer.

So even while George Bush is kept at arm’s length from the campaign, his campaign style lives on as Obama is stigmatised as a terrorist-friendly stealth-socialist, too deeply unAmerican to be let anywhere near the Oval Office. “He just doesn’t see America as we do” says Sarah Palin trying to wink her way into Dick Cheney’s seat. McCain is betting the house that this way of doing politics has at least one more hurrah left in it, and we will find out on in the early hours of Wednesday morning whether he is right.

The Bush presidency is the spectre haunting the feast in more than tactics. Although every conservative administration since Ronald Reagan has promised to deliver, through supply-side stimulation, economic growth without bloated deficits, they have never been vindicated in their blind faith in what Bush senior once rashly called “voodoo economics”. Consistently, they have brought the US Wall Street crashes and recessions along with massive deficits; and yet somehow, the stake that history attempts to drive through the heart of their economic theology never puts the ghoul away.

No weight of evidence to the contrary has ever shaken the totemic belief that tax cuts can grow the economy robustly enough to compensate for drastic shortfalls in revenue. George W Bush clung to this belief even as the Clinton budget surplus was converted into a mountainous deficit, and John McCain continues to parrot the same belief with the shining face of a true believer.

Not even Gibbon could supply a story as fatefully bizarre as the ultimate consummation of Reagan-Bush conservatism, its last act: the most massive shift of financial power from the private to the public sector since the New Deal. Rather like the Pope deciding that all along he really wanted a barmitzvah.

If you look at this saga as the history of a dynasty; it’s come full circle. For, believe it or not, there once was a time when Bush politics was about centrist moderation. Dubya’s revered granddad, Prescott Sheldon Bush, son of an Ohio railroad executive and senator for Connecticut from 1952 to 1963, was punished in the Catholic towns of industrial Connecticut for his connection with Planned Parenthood. Not only that, but he was a trustee of the United Negro College Fund, the kind of institution that made the eventual career of Barack Obama conceivable.

But the Bushes have always been selective about idealism. And even at the height of the Kennedy-Johnson apogee, Prescott and George Herbert Walker Bush were turning the pages of Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. They could smell the wind direction changing. The future of Republican money and Republican power lay elsewhere; with Texas oil. Hence the migration to Midland Texas of George Herbert Walker Bush and his makeover into a Texan who knew the ways of the corporate world; and how to bring about the Great Cosiness between government and business that seemed like the perfect feedback loop: money to power, power to money; tax breaks for the corporations; donations to those who might command the heights.

This is the politics George W Bush inherited, and he has been its faithful disciple; to the point of purging it of any remaining traces of pragmatism. It is astounding to hear rightwing talkshow bloviators rant about the predicament of the Bush administration being caused by its failure to carry out the true conservative agenda. For there never has been and never will be a more doctrinally faithful instrument of the creed. Never mind the hanging chads of 2000, the Cheney-Bush administration seized the moment to bring on the Goldwater-Reagan Rapture in which government was once and for all got out of the way of business.

So it hasn’t really been all George Bush’s fault, the stupendous American fiasco. He came to power armed with an ideology that was about to crash and burn; that was, years before the present tumult, already fatally disconnected from historical reality. It was on his watch that American government needed reinventing. It was responsible government that was needed in Iraq and Afghanistan; government that was desperately needed in New Orleans after Katrina, while all George Bush could manage was a fly-by. It is government that this most anti-governmental of all American administrations is learning that is needed now to save the United States from a second Depression.

In his heart of hearts I actually think the shell-shocked Dubya, somewhere in the bowels of his presidency knows this. But he is nowhere to be found, and so on goes the mad rant that health care reform and progressive taxes are the Trojan horse for socialist revolution. To which those who have another view altogether might want to say, fear not, for yours, as a Republican president once said, is a government of the people, by the people. And really it will not perish from the earth.

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Filed under 2008 Presidential Campaign, Barack Obama, farewell, John McCain, legacy, President Bush, Simon Schama, The Guardian

Nowhere man: a farewell to Dubya, all-time loser in presidential history

by Simon Schama – the Guardian

“Forgotten but not gone” was the way in which the supremo of Boston politics, Billy Bulger, liked to dismiss the human irritants he had crushed beneath his trim boot. The same could now be said for the hapless 43rd President of the United States as the daylight draws mercifully in on his reign of misfortune and calamity. How is he bearing up, one wonders, as the candidate from his own party treats him as the carrier of some sort of infectious political disease? How telling was it that the most impassioned moment in John McCain’s performance in the final debate was when he declared: “I am not George Bush.”

Where, O where are you, Dubya, as the action passes you by like a jet skirting dirty weather? Are you roaming the lonely corridors of the White House in search of a friendly shoulder around which to clap your affable arm? Are you sweating it out on the treadmill, hurt and confused as to why the man everyone wanted to have a beer (or Coke) with, who swept to re-election four years ago, has been downgraded to all-time loser in presidential history, stuck there in the bush leagues along with the likes of James Buchanan and Warren Harding? Or are you whacking brush in Crawford, where the locals now make a point of telling visitors that George W never really was from hereabouts anyroad.

Whatever else his legacy, the man who called himself “the decider” has left some gripping history. The last eight years have been so rich in epic imperial hubris that it would take a reborn Gibbon to do justice to the fall. It should be said right away that amid the landscape of smoking craters there are one or two sprigs of decency that have been planted: record amounts of financial help given to Aids-blighted countries of Africa; immigration reform that would have offered an amnesty to illegals and given them a secure path to citizenship, had not those efforts hit the reef of intransigence in Bush’s own party. And no one can argue with the fact that since 9/11 the United States has not been attacked on its home territory by jihadi terrorists; though whether or not that security is more illusory than real is, to put it mildly, open to debate.

Bet against that there is the matter of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties, more than 4,000 American troops dead, many times that gravely injured, not to mention the puncture wounds and mutilations inflicted on internationally agreed standards of humane conduct for prisoners – and on the protection of domestic liberties enshrined in the American constitution. If the Statue of Liberty were alive, she would be weeping tears of blood.

If Bush himself has been largely kept out of sight, his baleful legacy has been visible in the McCain campaign. McCain has made much of his credentials for independence of mind, a claim which once was credible given his support for immigration reform and opposition to Bush’s tax cuts. But somewhere along the road to the Republican nomination, all of this became less important than the lessons of the Reagan-Bush-Rove political playbook which, with the exception of the Clinton election of 1992, seemed to have a track record of unbroken success.

McCain knew this from bitter personal experience, having been on the receiving end of Bush lowball politics in the South Carolina primary in 2000. Coming out of a convincing win against George Bush in New Hampshire he was stopped in his tracks by a smear campaign conducted through push-poll phone calls in which people were asked whether they knew that the daughter McCain had adopted from Sri Lanka was in fact the illegitimate child of an affair with a woman of colour. Now you would think McCain could never reconcile himself to a politician capable of those kinds of tactics. But there he was in the campaign of 2004, stumping the country for the incumbent, ingratiating himself with the conservative base he knew he would need, even as his old Vietnam buddy, John Kerry, was being coated in slime by the Swift Boaters.

Whatever misgivings McCain might have had about adopting the hardball tactics of his 2000 adversary have long since disappeared before the blandishments of classic Bush-style operatives like Rick Davis and Stephen Schmidt. “Do you want to be pure, or do you want to win”? they must have asked right after the nomination. Ditching Joe Lieberman as a running mate and unleashing pitbull Palin was his answer.

So even while George Bush is kept at arm’s length from the campaign, his campaign style lives on as Obama is stigmatised as a terrorist-friendly stealth-socialist, too deeply unAmerican to be let anywhere near the Oval Office. “He just doesn’t see America as we do” says Sarah Palin trying to wink her way into Dick Cheney’s seat. McCain is betting the house that this way of doing politics has at least one more hurrah left in it, and we will find out on in the early hours of Wednesday morning whether he is right.

The Bush presidency is the spectre haunting the feast in more than tactics. Although every conservative administration since Ronald Reagan has promised to deliver, through supply-side stimulation, economic growth without bloated deficits, they have never been vindicated in their blind faith in what Bush senior once rashly called “voodoo economics”. Consistently, they have brought the US Wall Street crashes and recessions along with massive deficits; and yet somehow, the stake that history attempts to drive through the heart of their economic theology never puts the ghoul away.

No weight of evidence to the contrary has ever shaken the totemic belief that tax cuts can grow the economy robustly enough to compensate for drastic shortfalls in revenue. George W Bush clung to this belief even as the Clinton budget surplus was converted into a mountainous deficit, and John McCain continues to parrot the same belief with the shining face of a true believer.

Not even Gibbon could supply a story as fatefully bizarre as the ultimate consummation of Reagan-Bush conservatism, its last act: the most massive shift of financial power from the private to the public sector since the New Deal. Rather like the Pope deciding that all along he really wanted a barmitzvah.

If you look at this saga as the history of a dynasty; it’s come full circle. For, believe it or not, there once was a time when Bush politics was about centrist moderation. Dubya’s revered granddad, Prescott Sheldon Bush, son of an Ohio railroad executive and senator for Connecticut from 1952 to 1963, was punished in the Catholic towns of industrial Connecticut for his connection with Planned Parenthood. Not only that, but he was a trustee of the United Negro College Fund, the kind of institution that made the eventual career of Barack Obama conceivable.

But the Bushes have always been selective about idealism. And even at the height of the Kennedy-Johnson apogee, Prescott and George Herbert Walker Bush were turning the pages of Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. They could smell the wind direction changing. The future of Republican money and Republican power lay elsewhere; with Texas oil. Hence the migration to Midland Texas of George Herbert Walker Bush and his makeover into a Texan who knew the ways of the corporate world; and how to bring about the Great Cosiness between government and business that seemed like the perfect feedback loop: money to power, power to money; tax breaks for the corporations; donations to those who might command the heights.

This is the politics George W Bush inherited, and he has been its faithful disciple; to the point of purging it of any remaining traces of pragmatism. It is astounding to hear rightwing talkshow bloviators rant about the predicament of the Bush administration being caused by its failure to carry out the true conservative agenda. For there never has been and never will be a more doctrinally faithful instrument of the creed. Never mind the hanging chads of 2000, the Cheney-Bush administration seized the moment to bring on the Goldwater-Reagan Rapture in which government was once and for all got out of the way of business.

So it hasn’t really been all George Bush’s fault, the stupendous American fiasco. He came to power armed with an ideology that was about to crash and burn; that was, years before the present tumult, already fatally disconnected from historical reality. It was on his watch that American government needed reinventing. It was responsible government that was needed in Iraq and Afghanistan; government that was desperately needed in New Orleans after Katrina, while all George Bush could manage was a fly-by. It is government that this most anti-governmental of all American administrations is learning that is needed now to save the United States from a second Depression.

In his heart of hearts I actually think the shell-shocked Dubya, somewhere in the bowels of his presidency knows this. But he is nowhere to be found, and so on goes the mad rant that health care reform and progressive taxes are the Trojan horse for socialist revolution. To which those who have another view altogether might want to say, fear not, for yours, as a Republican president once said, is a government of the people, by the people. And really it will not perish from the earth.

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Filed under 2008 Presidential Campaign, Barack Obama, farewell, John McCain, legacy, President Bush, Simon Schama, The Guardian