Politics is a game of luck. Luck can make or break a politician. Thatcher, despite all of her sheer brilliance, owes her career at least in part to luck. Were it not for the arrogance of General Galtieri and the luck of having the revenue from North Sea oil trickle in in her first years in power she could not have embarked on the remarkable path she trod that resulted in the total transformation of this country. Similarly Gordon Brown could be seen to be incredibly unlucky, perhaps if the economic circumstances were different he could and would be a better PM. On the other side of the Atlantic John McCain is finding that luck is lacking in his campaign. What binds both Thatcher, Brown and McCain, indeed almost all politicians together, is that economics can make or break them.
Up until a week or two ago John McCain had closed the gap on Barack Obama and looked like he was going to give him one hell of a fight in the coming election. All that has changed due to something completely out of his hands: the economy. It is a sad indicator of the world in which we live that as a general rule most voters do not scratch beneath the surface. They take almost everything on face value. If the economy under a Republican government is failing then they instantly turn off to Republican politician. The fact of the matter is John McCain has been a thorn in the side of the Bush administration and any suggestion that the ‘two are one’ is ludacris.
I think it is fair to say that John McCain would be almost last on Bush’s list of possible Republican successors. What I like about John McCain is the fact that he is a gentleman. He holds true to his beliefs and he doesn’t ‘sell his soul’ for a few political points. It would be easy for him to distance himself from Bush, to criticise the last 8 years and to vow to pull the troops out of Iraq but McCain stand for what he believes in and what he knows to be right. He and his running mate, love them or loathe them, have a record (not rhetoric) which shows they can work across the aisle, that they can blow the whistle on their own party members and that they are honourable people who have made change a reality. As far as I can tell Barack Obama, as one British diplomat recently claimed, is ‘aloof’, populist and unprincipled.
The decline in McCain’s fortunes coincided with the meltdown on Wall Street. To the extent people vote based on economic concerns, a majority of them favour Democrats over Republicans whom they hold responsible for the recession that America is seemingly in. McCain needs a month of steady markets, available credit and no more bank failures, perhaps then he can persuade undecided voters that the election really is about trusting experience rather than gambling on change. He also must remind them that he has a proven record of accomplishment in Washington, while his opponent does not. He needs to ram the message home that he, not Obama, fought years ago for greater oversight of mortgage lenders, something which could have avoided the heartache people face today. He predicted this day would come and it has. The Democrats and indeed Obama refused to back him in that quest proving they have no confidence or competence on the economy.
I wholeheartedly believe John McCain is the man to lead America. He needs to come out fighting, release the pit bull in lipstick, ram home his experience and maverick tendencies and expose the downright lies, manipulations and ‘x factor’ nature of Obama’s campaign. If not I feel that America and the world as a whole will be in deep trouble.