Alex Massie

The Problem With Non-Americans

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At Culture11 there's some advice for the candidates before tonight's "debate." It's unlikely much of it will be taken. At her own blog Kerry Howley adds this:

I’ll just add that there is a massive gap between Obama’s actual rhetoric and the conservative portrayal of him as some sort of naive, starry-eyed internationalist. There is no globalist in this election, naive or otherwise. There is the candidate who insists that foreigners are bloodthirsty killers, and the one who keeps reminding you that foreigners will shutter your factories, poison your children, and destroy your domestic motorcycle industry. Yes, yes, I realize that we aren’t supposed to listen when the Obama campaign depicts economic engagement as un-American. That’s just smoke and mirrors for some nice folks in Michigan; the rest of us are supposed to shove our fingers in our ears, dream of container ships, and wait for Austan Goolsbee to fix the whole thing later.

Quite so. Alas. There are many reasons for preferring Obama in this campaign, not the least of them being that he's likely to be the better, more responsible, less ghastly President. But as Kerry says, his posturing on trade is perhaps the most depressing element of his campaign. Yes, we - foreigners that is - understand that it's "just the campaign" and yes we know we're not supposed to take it too seriously. And yes too we "know" that it's easy and convenient to blame the rest of the world for all manner of ills. Nonetheless, this is an area in which, shall we say, the promise of Obama is severely undermined by the reality of the campaign he has run. Fine.

But there comes a point when the people to whom you've written campaign cheques will want to cash them. Maybe not today and perhaps maybe not even tomorrow. But sometime. And for a political movement, that spells trouble. One reason the GOP is in such a parlous position today is that it has not, despite all the alarmist stuff suggesting otherwise, done very much for religious conservatives. Rhetoric is fine but after a while the base demands more. When that "more" doesn't arrive the movement loses interest and enthusiasm. And so you need to select someone such as Sarah Palin to keep the buggers believing...

Now obviously the Democrats are still some way short of reaching that point. But, still, Obama wants to restore America's "standing" in the world while also blaming them dirty furriners for America's troubles. He's fortunate the ret of the world just wants to be rid of the GOP. Nonetheless, this may all prove problematic once you're in office. I understand that you need to do what it takes to win first and then worry about governing. But still, this is an ugly, narrow-minded, ignorant, hostile element of Obama's campaign.

Like Kerry I guess, one just has to have faith in the candidate's faithlessness.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePolitics