www.mybaycity.com August 20, 2008
Columns Article 2999

Who Has the Biggest Problem in 2008 Election: WE DO! - Finding The Truth

Double Hobson's Choice Can Perplex: Obama, McCain Both Flawed Candidates

August 20, 2008
By: Dave Rogers

Double Hobson's Choice Can Perplex.

Perhaps by reasoning together and double-checking political statements we can figure out what is happening in this endless summer of 2008 as the longest Presidential campaign in history winds down in 11 weeks.

Our biggest problem is deciphering the truth out of a nightmare of media gibberish, dueling TV and radio ads, cross currents of thought, insidious news and wrangling about who said what and who did what to whom.

RECOMMENDATION: Use FactCheck.org to see how valid any of these ads are and use Snopes.com to ferret out unfair and untruthful Internet traffic on either candidate.

We are faced with a double Hobson's Choice, meaning we really have no choice but to pick a flawed candidate. That's the way the American system works. We would hope that some day the U.S. looks at the plan used in Ireland to pick candidates: voters rate all qualified on a scale of 1-10; total scores are tallied to determine the winner.

The British system of calling an election and having a campaign limited to 90-days also would be worth considering.

Thomas Hobson (1545-1631) ran a livery stable in Cambridge, England, in the 17th century. Hobson catered mainly to Cambridge University students but refused to rent his horses out other than in the order he wanted. The choice customers were given was 'this horse, or none.' Hobson's was and is no choice at all -the only option being the one offered you.

Both Republican and Democratic voters are faced with Hobson's choices in this election: obviously those in the GOP who don't back McCain will have to settle for Obama, and vice versa.

But this political incarnation of Hobson's Choice gets even more complicated.

Without a Republican majority in either House, McCain will be in a real bind. Guess what? He will have to depend on Hillary and Obama to carry his water, at least among the Dems, and that could be dicey for the combative war hero. He may want, and even need, to go to war, and the Congress will be extremely reluctant to give any support to a war hawk President, given the history of the past eight years.

Besides, the nation is broke -- having spent $10 billion a month in Iraq and Afghanistan and will have little tolerance for spending more on defense. And, there's the little problem of fighting personnel. McCain would be in the unenviable position of having to propose resumption of the military draft, as he's already indicated in a recent town hall meeting, and U.S. voters have shown no indication they would support a draft especially in view of an unwarranted war that has been solidly documented: No WMD's and all that.

So, if you're a Republican backing McCain/Bush policies, you no doubt won't be satisfied by what a hamstrung President can do in the face of a Democratic Congress and a reluctant public.

If you're a Democrat, Obama may have a similar problem of getting anything done unless he has a veto-proof Senate (60 votes) and projections are the Senate will have 58, maybe 59 Democrats unless a miracle happens in some states.

Hillary Clinton, who probably would have been the Democratic candidate had she not had the baggage of ex-President Slick Willie to carry, is playing an extremely clever waiting game.

She has no other choice but to support Barack Obama, with her fingers crossed behind her back that John McCain will win. Without her on the ticket, Obama's chances are considerably slimmed since pollsters estimate 21 percent of Hillary's primary voters have indicated they will vote for McCain.

So, don't look for an overwhelmingly vigorous campaign schedule by either her or the conniving Bill, unless of course lightning strikes and she is the vice presidential nominee.

Otherwise, they will make it look good, praising the Democratic candidate and all the while hoping he lives up to their predictions made in the primary: "He can't win."

If the South rises again, as we predict it will, and McCain wins then Hillary begins her 2012 Presidential campaign on Jan. 21, 2008.

She's the only one who really can't lose: If McCain wins, she begins to campaign again; if Obama wins, she has a good shot at the Supreme Court. We, the American voters, can lose either way with an inexperienced Democrat or a hog-tied Republican.

The Democrats will be solidly in control of both houses of Congress and McCain will be lucky to win support for any of his initiatives. That situation may serve us better than when the Republicans controlled the Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court, allowing the Bush administration to rush to war, allow corruption to flourish especially among their wealthy friends, run immense budget deficits -- you know the rest. It has not been a pretty picture.

If Obama wins, given her record during the primary Hillary might hope he falls flat whereupon she has to wait until that status is set in stone, probably as soon as 2010, unless she's muzzled on the bench, to start her "I told you so's."

A successful Obama Presidency, should it happen, sets her back seriously and consigns her to elder statesman status in the Senate and probably derails any Presidential hope she might have. If Obama wins he might be smart to appoint her to the Supreme Court as soon as possible, if she will take it, and get her out of the political mix.

American politics being what it is, by 2016 chances are the winds will shift back to the Republicans and Hillary will be at that point be age 69, approaching the age of McCain today, 72, and age plus gender both are sticking points with American voters.

Besides, if McCain wins and is unable to establish a record of success in revitalizing the country and we do in fact get "four more years of George W. Bush," Obama will still be around and the old Obama-Clinton tug of war could start all over again. I'm not sure any of us are prepared for that scenario.

(NOTE: Hillary Clinton was born Oct. 26, 1947 in Chicago. She graduated Wellesley College, vaulting to national attention with her commencement speech in 1969 and graduated Yale Law School. McCain was born Aug. 29, 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone, then under U.S. control. His record in the Vietnam war and survival in long incarceration by the enemy continues to be his strong points.)

McCain is being heavily criticized for running a negative campaign (85 percent of his ads reportedly attack Obama) while Obama is launching a stealth negative campaign with his mega-million campaign war chest. We're starting to see some of these ads in Michigan, a crucial Rust Belt state where recently Obama was holding a seven point advantage in the polls. However, don't believe the polls since there are 10-12 percent undecided and perhaps there is a high racist bent in that sector that will skew anything people are telling the pollsters.


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