Thoughts on New Hamphsire

I know that I mostly irritate people when I write about politics. I frequently get comments from readers who say something like "how can you be such an idiot when it comes to politics?". To that I say that this blog is at some level about me. I am who I am. And I am not going to hide my politics. In fact, I’ve been totally open about them for as long as I’ve been blogging and that’s not going to stop just because my politics are incompatible with those of many of the people who read this blog. At worst, I’ll irritate you and you’ll stop reading this blog. But at best, we’ll have a conversation and I’ll learn something. One of the most frequent commenters on this blog, Steve Kane, almost always disagrees with me on politics. But his comments make me think hard about my beliefs. He hasn’t converted me to his beliefs, but he’s moved me a bit over the years.

Anyway enough justification for posts like this. The Gotham Gal and I (and Josh until he went to bed) watched the votes come in last night for almost four hours. We watched the pundits talk and talk and talk. Man was that annoying. But we also got to see speeches from Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, brief remarks from Rudy, and speeches from John Edwards, Barack Obama, and finally Hillary Clinton.

I am very happy with the way that New Hampshire voted. Of the republicans, John McCain is by far the best candidate. He’d make a fine president. I don’t agree with him on many positions, but I think he’d be a fine leader for this country. He’s certainly earned the right with his service of our country over the years and he’s got the experience to get the job done. I wish he’d be more vocal about campaign finance reform. He used to be so strong on that issue. Now you almost never hear about it from him. Oh well. He’s become more of a politician in the past eight years which is probably good for him.

But the big story for me is the democrat race. There you’ve got two incredible candidates in Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. I am certain that Hillary will make a fine president for our country. She’s spent her life working for this moment, she’s been in the white house, she’s advised her husand for thirty years, then has spent the past eight years building her on political career. What we finally saw in NH was the real Hillary, who spoke from the heart about why this means so much to her and why she’s given her entire life to this goal. People see Bill and Hillary as totally fake polticians who will do anything and say anything to get elected. Who are washington insiders and establishment politicians. All that is true at some level, but I for one am a big fan of both of them and I think Hillary is well prepared to be the first woman president of our country and I’d like to see her get there.

On the other hand, there’s Barack Obama, who is certainly among the most gifted democrat politicians of the past 50 years. I see so much Jack Kennedy in him (and no I did not know Jack Kennnedy, I was two years old when he was killed). He has the power to lead our country to a new place in the world and I don’t see that in any of the other candidates on either side of the aisle. I have my doubts about Barack’s ability to get anything done and worry that he’d be Jimmy Carter instead of Jack Kennedy, but given the option to vote for him in the Nov election, I’d pull the lever for sure. As Andrew Sullivan said in this piece in The Atlantic about Barack (which to me lays out the best argument for an Obama presidency):

Sometimes, when the world is changing rapidly, the greater risk is caution.

I look forward to the Ali-Frazier-esque heavyweight fight we are going to watch between these two. As should be the case, they are going to have to fight for the nomination now, from the northeast to the southwest, from conservative states to liberal states, and we’ll find out who has the mettle to go the distance, who is most electable, and who can make the best case to be the next president of the United States.

I say that because the republican field is a mess. None of the candidates look capable of pulling together the three wings of the party (religious right, national security, economic conservatism). McCain is probably best suited to the job, but he can’t and won’t rally the religious right to his cause. My gut says he’ll be the nominee and he’ll be like Dole in ’96. A good man, who would do a fine job in the White House, who will inspire few (his speech last night sucked), and who will not win.

The rest of the republican field is a bunch of flawed candidates who don’t have a shot.

My gut tells me its a democrat year in 2008, and we’ll have Obama or Hillary as our next president. So the next month is where its at and I for one will be watching closely.