Friday, 11 January 2008

"I Don't ♥ Huckabee."

The other day Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire Primaries for the Democrats while John McCain won for the Republicans. While Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ has been off the air due to the writer’s strike, my knowledge of American current affairs has dwindled considerably and as such I have no idea what this win means for Clinton (Stewart is now back on the air sans writers: it’s not bad). All the news networks seemed shocked by Clinton’s victory though and say that she’s “back in the race” which just means that they were wrong and now they have to reassess their projections.

Since this year a new President will take control of the greatest superpower on the planet and will be able to hover their finger over the button deploying the world’s largest store of ‘WMDs’, this ongoing campaign affects the whole world. It’s therefore important to understand the ramifications and policy agendas of each presidential candidate. But, lacking the inclination to do detailed research (mostly because I will not be voting; just observing, thankfully from far far away), I’ve assessed the candidates in the most superficial manner possible: by the first impressions of their respective websites.

First Senator Clinton, or rather ‘Hillary’. Evidently in an effort to downplay her last name and maybe even her relationship to her husband, there is only one mention of the name ‘Clinton’ on her home page. Like Cher, Trisha, and Bono, she has just one name: ‘Hillary’. There’s not that much about her policies on the entry page but there are links to buy merchandise. There are hats, T-shirts, buttons, and jackets, all of which will get you beat up if you go to a red state wearing one. Still, she seems like a strong person, she has close experience of real presidential leadership, and she’s against the War.

Next up for the Democrats is Senator Barack Obama who apparently uses a lot of rhetoric in his speeches. It seems to have struck a chord with the voters though and, after their current President, anyone who can read must seem like a genius. His website is more ‘stream-lined’ than Clinton’s: his focus is on getting followers actively involved rather than selling them merchandise. Obama’s policies focus on universal health care, ending the War, and using diplomacy in the Middle East. While he does use a lot of rhetoric (haphazardly throwing around the words ‘believe’ and ‘change’) at least he’s not using religious rhetoric.

The last Democratic candidate (that I’m familiar with) is John Edwards. At first sight, Edwards has nothing unique. He’s a white male which frankly makes him too similar to what we’ve seen in Presidents before, 43 times before in fact. Despite his plainness and his forgettable face, his website is not too bad. It’s much the same layout as Clinton but slightly less flashy. There’s a bit too much information in a small amount of space towards the bottom of the home page. The site seems to suit his personality though.

One of the main Republican candidates is Mike Huckabee whose defining characteristic is that he’s friends with Chuck Norris. His website is elegant and functional. Unfortunately he’s a raging extremist: he doesn’t believe in evolution, he thinks homosexuality is sinful and “not normal”, he credits ‘divine intervention’ with his political success, he opposes abortion, he supports the War and the death penalty, and he opposes gun control. Put simply, he’s from the Middle Ages and has a moderately funny name. I respect his right to hold all those views but I think he’s dead wrong on every single one of them and could probably be shown to be rationally/logically inconsistent. Undoubtedly America would not allow a fundamentalist Muslim to run for office yet this Christian extremist is not only allowed but supported.

A perhaps more reliable Republican is former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, or since he’s taken ‘Hillary’s’ route, ‘Rudy’. “Join Rudy 2008”, his website proudly proclaims. Giuliani is a respected man and an established leader of people because of his sterling and heroic work protecting and rebuilding New York City after the 9/11 attacks. While he’s certainly a great man, his TV ad is mystifying. It plays out like a movie trailer rather than a campaign video, complete with deep-voiced narrator and a script made up of sentence fragments. Is he running for President or making the next series of 24? It’s bizarre. Maybe that’s what it takes to get the US public’s reaction though; that and mentioning 9/11 a lot. Apart from that rampant sensationalism, he appears to be an intelligent man and, as far as the Republicans are concerned, the best of a bad bunch.

Despite what the networks might say, none of the leading Presidential candidates could be called ‘liberal’ probably because the moniker ‘liberal’ is generally spat with unrestrained venom in the States and true liberal Americans are too afraid to publicly declare themselves lest they incur the wrath of someone like the odious Ann Coulter (you can read about her here – if you must). My personal prediction is on a win for the Democrats and I really don’t care who represents them. Admittedly it would be cool, not to mention historically significant, to have either a female or a black President but ultimately it doesn’t matter: the important thing is that the mad and barely literate Texan cowboy will soon be thrown out of the White House and, if there’s any justice in the world, brought before The Hague for war crimes.

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