Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A few thoughts after yesterday's Bruges Group meeting

And a very good meeting it was, too, with two proponents of the Anglo-American understanding and special relationship, Andrew Roberts and Irwin Stelzer, on parade. Andrew Roberts talked mostly about his latest book, “Masters and Commanders: How Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall and Alanbrooke Won the War in the West 1941 – 45”, which sounds fascinating and I shall read it just as soon as I have finished Mr Roberts’s last tome “A History of the English-Speaking People since 1900”. And no, I am not envious of his amazing capacity for work, not at all. Grrr.

For the purposes of this blog I shall concentrate on what Irwin Stelzer said about American politics and economic possibilities as well as Andrew Roberts’s comments on that subject rather than the latter’s amusing description of the clash between those four titans.

So, first things first. Dr Stelzer does not think the presidential election is in the bag, however much the Europeans and by that he means the British, as well, may wish it. My own feeling is that the Europeans, including the British know precious little about what is going on in the presidential election as they rely on the European/British media, which is almost completely pro-Obama (as it was almost completely pro-Kerry) and publishes stories that are several days out of date. Thus, there are still articles wittering about Sarah Palin being made fun of by some ridiculous comedienne and how that hurts the McCain/Palin ticket while the story is that Palin is attracting many thousands to her meetings and is doing far more news interviews than any other candidate.

As Dr Stelzer said, if you watch the BBC you will think that Obama is already president. Last time, he added, he did follow the election on the BBC and he did not realize till about spring that Kerry had lost. That was a semi-joke.

The polls, endlessly referred to, are somewhat volatile in this election as Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit keeps saying. They are also a lot closer than the headlines would lead us to believe.

On the other hand, it is more than probable that Congress will go Democrat, so what will happen if Obama wins and there is a clean sweep of the legislative and executive, shortly to be followed by the judiciary, as Supreme Court judges die or retire and new ones are appointed?

Let’s get the most worrying Obama promise out of the way first, though it is an internal American matter and that is the abolition of secret ballot in the unions. If this is passed and, given the Democrats’ reliance on the unions it probably will be, this will be a seriously regressive step in business development.

So what might an Obama presidency mean for Britain and Europe and will all those who wish for it be happy with it? Obviously, all prediction is guessing on the basis of past performance and there is precious little of it in Obama’s case. There are all those buddies of his, starting with Bill Ayers, and his unfortunate admission to Joe the Plumber that he is looking to raising taxes on small to medium-sized businesses in order to redistribute. In connection with that there is the extraordinary notion of “tax credits” to people who do not pay tax as those who earn $50,000 and under do not in America. That “tax credit” will be a hand-out and someone has to pay for it and for the officialdom that will be redistributing the money. So, the economic situation looks a little bleak, though Dr Stelzer pointed out quite correctly that the American economy is a good deal more flexible even now than European or British. Furthermore, the American bail-out (larger than fist defined, naturally enough) will be the equivalent of something like 5 per cent of GDP. The German bail-out will be the equivalent of 16 per cent of GDP and Supergordon Brown’s British bail-out, with which Dr Stelzer does not totally disagree, will be the equivalent of 30 per cent of GDP. Not good.

However, it is the foreign policy that really matters in the case of the President and Obama is likely to be highly protectionist, which will not be good for America but will be even worse for others. The union bosses will do well, though.

His idea of soft diplomacy and working through multilateral, i.e. transnational organizations bodes no good as it recalls the disastrous presidency of Jimmah Carter. In fact, many things about Obama brings that to mind.

The problem, as far as those pro-Obama Brits and Europeans might well find, is that he will most probably will be as isolationist as they would like him to be. That means the Europeans will now be expected to contribute more to the campaign in Afghanistan as Iraq will, most probably, be relatively sorted in the near future. The Obama-bots are not going to like that. Nor will an isolationist America be particularly popular with those countries and people who behave like teenagers – demand all kinds of rights and privileges in the certain knowledge that when things start getting difficult the parents will turn up to deal with problems. What if those parents, i.e. the Americans refuse to turn up?

America is likely to recover from the recession faster than either Britain or Europe and will remain the world’s superpower for the foreseeable future, no matter what some overwrought journalists and analysts might say. I was particularly delighted with Dr Stelzer’s prediction that the GOP’s 2012 candidate is likely to be Governor Sarah Palin. The other side may well field Hillary Clinton. How much fun is that going to be?

In the meantime, instead of gloating over America’s problems or wishing a disastrous left-wing presidency on it, we should start thinking seriously what our future is likely to be.


Anonymous said...

Has any candidate lost because of weather before?
By hitching his wagon to AGW and telling the US to spend billions fighting Global Warming, he has set himself up.
We have every reason to expect that this winter will be worse than last and as the US struggles through snow to the polls Global Warming won't seem all that bad an idea.
This all looks like the Kinnock Major election to me.

Helen said...

Lots of candidates lose because of the weather. This is quite a well known phenomenon. Whether any has ever lost because of climate predictions is something else altogether. Who is the "he" you are talking about Sandy? Irwin Stelzer or one of the candidates?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, refers to Obama declaring that the US will spend billions to become world leaders in carbon capture. He also declared CO2 a pollutant. Moron needs a little note telling him that the plants have declared oxygen a 'pollutant'.
That AGW is a cult is fairly obvious now, but I wonder how it will die? Will it suddenly evaporate and suddenly not be mentioned anywhere? Will there be witch-hunts for the more egregious abusers of science (Hansen of NASA could do with something suitably medieval)? How will the twitti politi withdraw from their current OhSoPC positions?
Should be fun all round :D