Saturday, November 01, 2008

ELECTION TENSION

Has there been an election in recent memory with as much tension built around the final days? This election feels a notch higher on the intensity scale, or maybe two or three notches.

With Palin rallies chanting "McCain not Hussein" and the uncertainty, justified or not, surrounding the true reaction to a black candidate at the time of choice by the broad American electorate, there's a palpable edge to this contest, a sharp edge. More importantly, one would hope, is the fact that there are significant differences between the two candidates, in policy, in style, in age, in experiences, in the approach to work, and in the approach to decisions. There has been much less of the usual general election move to the center on the part of either candidate. Obama has mostly stayed with his primary positions, moving modestly toward being more flexible on some issues, while McCain has moved decidedly away from the center, in both policy and tone. The more ardent supporters of both candidates are widely divided, sometimes in a hostile way, on most issues.

In addition, there is more of a global interest in this election than in any other U.S. presidential election in history. The reasons are multiple: the almost uniform disdain for George Bush; the candidacy of Obama, an intellectually disciplined candidate with multicultural background; a general desire for some resolution to the Iraq war; the unbelievable choice of Sarah Palin by McCain that is a global joke; and the realization that the financial crisis is not a fleeting event but one that calls for the best intelligence countries can provide from their leaders, not the same old views. That's one summary of the global view, certainly not completely right, but it's a shot. The point is that this election will have much of the world in a sweat as well. My God, The Economist has endorsed Obama.

And we wait.

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