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Monday, September 22, 2008

Thirty hours on the road back from Alaska

Well it was a rainy day so that probably explains why no-one, let alone the occupant rushed to open when I knocked on the door at the Governor's Office in Juneau Alaska last week. The Governor's not often seen thereabouts these days in any event but nothing ventured nothing gained, and nothing turned out to be the case, again, this time.

Three weeks in North America confirm, if a visit was necessary to prove the point, that the US is indeed a foreign country. I like the place and its people a lot, but still come away scratching my head.

For example militarism was evident everywhere in the speeches at the Republican National Convention, prompting audience chants of "USA, USA, USA"; global warming hardly rated a mention there, nor three weeks ago, did the economy; Sarah Palin has been telling audiences to great acclaim that the surge is showing those nasty types in Iraq who were responsible for 9/11, who is the boss; Palin, a smart and successful politician in Alaska, has for the first few weeks at least, been seen as fit for the top job by a sizeable percentage of the population, despite her lack of experience with national issues, because it is seen as self-evident that "regular folks need to take charge"; the electoral contest involves competing families vying for the job of "First Family"; in a country where the prevailing wisdom is that government is the enemy not the friend of the people, and where free market philosophy has reigned supreme for years, the Government in effect has nationalised the world's largest insurance company and picks and chooses which investment banks to save, but not Lehman Brothers; and election coverage on the US domestic versions of CNN and Fox (not the Asia or international editions we see here) is mind- blowingly relentless, 24 x 7, with so much trivia mixed with the real thing- the rest of the world has virtually ceased to exist for America's two most watched news channels,

So, now back in Australia, as this blog is about to resume normal transmission, a prediction despite the fact that with with six weeks to go, anything can and probably will happen. And that the Electoral College system of voting means the outcome depends on 50 separate winner-take-all contests for state wide victories in elections where each state determines the rules on who votes and how the votes will be cast and counted.

Obama is the likely winner because of McCain and because the smart money from donations will allow him to spend big, particularly to get people to vote. At 72, McCain would be the oldest first term president in history, and will be linked with many aspects of the Bush administration of the last eight years, particularly economic performance and Iraq. He has been Mr De-regulation for years, putting him in a difficult spot now given the financial markets crisis.

,with limited experience, and all that in Alaska where standards of governance are, to be polite, way behind what's acceptable even in the Washington of George Bush, is already starting to lose steam and is still to face the sort of forensic examination that all candidates must endure at the hands of the media. Some of the problems arising from husband Todd's involvement in government affairs may mean even greater concern about "two for one" than those that arose for the Clintons. Palin can handle herself publicly but the McCain team and its supporters will be on tenterhooks as the campaign rolls on- an implosion may occur at any time.

Now back to our knitting.

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