Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Two elections and three prophets

On August 29, 2004, British-born historian Niall Ferguson, drawing an analogy between a possible Bush victory in '04 and John Major's catastrophic victory (to borrow a Bushism) in '92, may well have called today's election:
The lesson of British history is that a second Bush term could be more damaging to the Republican Party and more beneficial to the Democrats than a Bush defeat. If he secures re-election, Bush will press on with a foreign policy based on pre-emptive military force, ignore the impending fiscal crisis (on the Cheney principle that "deficits don't matter") and pursue socially conservative objectives such as the constitutional ban on gay marriage. Anyone who thinks this combination will maintain Republican Party unity is dreaming; it will do the opposite. The Democrats will have another four years to figure out what the Labour Party figured out: it's the candidate, stupid. And when the 2008 Republican candidate goes head-to-head with the American Blair, he will be wiped out. (Independent, UK -- sorry, no link.)
At what cost the Democratic victory, though? On the bitter morning after Kerry's defeat, my father said to me, "We'll survive, but we'll pay a price" for re-electing Bush.

Right on both counts. As Gideon Rachman writes today:
The economy has been Mr Obama’s friend during this campaign. It would become his enemy the moment he stepped into the Oval Office.
Democracy's saving grace is self-correction. The next president will have to reverse several courses at once, and square more than one circle.

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