'This is the most important election in the world since the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980' says Conrad Black
Saturday, September 06, 2008 from the National Post
The policy and ideological differences between the Unites States' Democrats and Republicans this year are greater than in all the elections since the Second World War, except for Barry Goldwater's quixotic challenge to Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society in 1964; George Mc-Govern's kamikaze mission against Richard Nixon in 1972; and Ronald Reagan's release of Jimmy Carter to spend more time with his family in 1980.
The differences over taxes, the economy and medical care are profound -- and very complicated. Obama is proposing one of the greatest tax increases in world history, entirely on the wealthiest 40% of the U. S. population -- who already contribute more than 100% (yes, you read that correctly) of the U. S. government's personal income tax revenue. He is disguising it behind a welter of largely fictitious refundable tax credits. The increased tax on people of substantial income will be paid out to people who pay small amounts of tax or none at all.
No part of this familiar process is a "tax-cut," which is how it has been presented.
The top tax-rate and the tax on capital gains and dividends would all rise by a full third, estate taxes would be raised to 45% and social-security payroll taxes would be raised for families earning over $250,000 a year. The Obama claims that all this would keep taxes at 18.2% of GDP, and would cover his vast spending plans, are nonsense.
McCain would tax-incentivize productivity increases and legitimate industrial research and new technology, and would accelerate depreciation allowances, thereby encouraging capital investment; and would moderately reduce corporate and personal taxes. And he would distribute health-care tax credits to every adult, encouraging the public to seek care at the lowest prices.
Obama, on the other hand, is proposing compulsory medical insurance, in a way that ensures that about half the population will get their coverage from the federal government. Neither candidate proposes caps on malpractice awards, insurance premiums or drug prices; thus assuring that under either candidate's proposal, annual U. S. medical costs will rise substantially above their present staggering $2-trillion, and 16% of GDP, the highest of any country.
The new president will face tough economic decisions, which would be better met by McCain's than by Obama's program. Raising taxes when their economy's on the verge of a possible recession, which the Democrats endlessly claim is already upon the country, is an economic recovery plan that went out of fashion with Herbert Hoover 75 years ago.
The differences between the candidates over traditional litmus-test issues such as abortion and gun control, are more stark, though Obama fudged them rhetorically in his convention acceptance speech. He professed to respect the constitutional right to bear arms, but said he didn't want to sell AK-47 machine guns to criminals -- as if anyone were asking for that. (Readers will be aware that I am at the moment, technically a criminal in the United States, thanks to the perversities of the country's justice system. I can attest that distributing AK-47's to all the residents here, on their release, would not raise the crime rate whatsoever. Those few who might want an AK-47 will lay hands on one whatever the federal government thinks about it.)
Senator Obama said he respects the right to life, but that there were "too many unwanted babies" a supply-side take on abortion, in other words. McCain and his running mate, on the other hand, hold views of gun control and abortion that are unambiguously negative, but not authoritarian.
Even more important are the seismic sociological appeals to white voters by the Democratic candidate, and to female voters by the Republicans. Senator Obama has told the black community to shape up, stop the disintegration of the African-American family and stop playing the victim card.
The unspoken bargain is that if elevated to the White House by white America, he will end the moral oppression of white Americans by guilt-mongering black charlatans such as Jesse Jackson,
Al Sharpton and Charlie Rangel. (Hence, Jackson's recent bitter complaint that Obama had abandoned his gonzo spiritual advisor, Jeremiah Wright, a stentorian peddler of black victimhood and white guilt.) Such people have led the black political community in the United States since the assassination of Martin Luther King 40 years ago. The vice-presidential candidacy of Sarah Palin is, in part, an effort to wrest the leadership of the feminist movement from the elite and militant left, and to put it in the hands of a silent majority of relatively traditional but ambitious women. It is a bold move to try to separate abortion from other issues generally associated with women's rights.
The Democrats and the feminist media establishment failed in their effort to represent Governor Palin as a Dan Quayle dunce in drag, a trigger-happy Stepford Wife and negligent mother (because she would choose to run for vice president despite her young family and 17-year old unmarried, pregnant daughter). The frenzy of the initial assault, and the sanctimonious conceit that American women would be offended by the candidacy of such an allegedly ditzy yokel, showed that McCain had remembered the basic military strategic lessons to apply maximum force at the decisive point and achieve complete surprise: If the liberal Democrats are taking the high ground on extramarital sex and working motherhood, you know they are frightened.
But even the Republicans were not prepared for the virtuosity of Ms. Palin's debut on Wednesday night. Managing to be winsome and even ingenuous, while witty; hard-hitting without being a harridan; an authentic feminist about what women can aspire to, while being a traditionalist; a clean government achiever and a populist enemy of the oil companies' excesses and the proverbial special interests; a spunky and endearing, yet effective, attack dog; she touched all the buttons. The early Democratic and media ripostes of offended American womanhood, lumpenbourgeois mediocrity and the primitive frontierswoman with a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other, were completely inadequate.
She is a naturally popular person, and a contrast with Joe Biden, a monotonous leftist journeyman, full of pretension and loquacity, a plagiarist (from Neil Kinnock of all people) with hair plugs. When Ms. Palin quoted the noisy nonentity the Democrats have inflicted on the Senate as majority leader, Harry Reid, as detesting John McCain, and said that was the greatest compliment the Republican nominee could receive, to deafening applause, a resonant tocsin sounded. George W. Bush has a low but far from unprecedented approval rating of about 30%. But the equivalent figure for the Congress is in single figures, a smaller percentage than the proportion of Americans who think Elvis Presley is alive. The Democrats have assumed for the last two years that all they had to do was mention the outgoing president and set out giant dumpsters to collect all the Democratic votes. Persevering readers will recall that I never thought so.
The Democratic candidates propose a foreign policy of endless negotiation, punctuated only by Obama's apparent shot-from-the-hip promise that in search of Osama bin Laden, he would invade Pakistan, a nuclear power and ostensible ally, that has a population eight times that of Iraq. [I thought he was against war???]
McCain, the veteran, ex-POW, son and grandson of admirals, is uninhibited about the use of the U. S.'s immense military power in the legitimate national interest. He believes that the Vietnam War could and should have been won, and has not wavered in his support of the Iraq War, although he was rightly critical of the way the occupation was conducted prior to the surge. Obama and Biden believe recourse to military force is almost never justified. McCain and Palin believe in maintaining credible deterrence by measured retaliation when justified. These philosophical differences could lead to sharply different responses to international events.
Senator Obama is and will be the political leader of African-Americans, whether he is the next president or not. This election should durably put the leadership of that community in his responsible hands; it could put the feminist political leadership in play between the militants and traditionalists; will determine whether the United States moves toward or further away from greater public sector influence on the economy and social services; and decide whether the U. S. armed forces become an Ozymandian white elephant or continue to be the most powerful geopolitical factor in the world.
This is the most important election in the world since the rise of Ronald Reagan in 1980.
cbletters@gmail .com-Thanks to reader Dirk Peters for reminding me that Walther Ulbricht said that the East German government had lost confidence in the people in 1953, not 1948 as I wrote here two weeks ago; and to George Grosman for pointing out that Jan Masaryk was the foreign minister of Czechoslovakia when the Russians murdered him, not, as I wrote in the same column, the Premier. Research is difficult where I am at the ho