Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: As the US right disintegrates, only one result seems possible
Obama has simply waited for his opponent to self-destruct
Thursday, 30 October 2008

... Large political parties, especially under the American (as the British) electoral system are bound to be coalitions, often of highly disparate elements. That was true of the Democrats in their heyday under Roosevelt to which many are now harking back, a weird alliance of organised labour, city bosses, intellectual progressives and Southern segregationists.

But the Republicans have become an equally improbable mixture of fiscal conservatives, religious reactionaries and neocons, who really have little in common beyond a shared enemy in the form of "liberalism" or what passes for such in America. The nomination of McCain himself was a sign of the conservatives' difficulties. He defeated his rivals because of his seeming authenticity and decency, but many on the Right greatly dislike him as ideologically unsound.

Then came the anointing of Palin, which may prove to have been a decisive moment. In a most entertaining article in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer describes not one but two sea cruises to Alaska in the summer of last year arranged by right-wing magazines of different hues, National Review and Weekly Standard. There they met Palin and fell for her – "my heartthrob," says William Kristol – even though the advocacy of this gormless backwoodswoman by clever rightist intellectuals was the height of cynicism.

It was also a mark of despair. "Nothing is inevitable,"McCain said on Tuesday, but a victory for Obama now looks very likely indeed, and if the turnout of younger voters rises sharply it could be a landslide. We may all yet be disappointed by President Obama, but this election will still be a thrashing from which the Right will take a long time to recover.


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