So it’s time for arch chameleon Mitt Romney to go. By all accounts he won’t be missed. It now guarantees John McCain will be the Republican nominee for President in the November general election. Good – we now have a guarantee that two good candidates will be fighting it out for the White House – unheard of in at least a generation. Romney didn’t have a principled bone in his body – a smart man intellectually but prepared to blow in the wind to try for power. He didn’t even do a good job of that. Given that there is no way in hell that Mike Huckabee can possibly beat McCain, it seems inconceivable he’ll hold out much longer, giving the Republican base a chance to get over their hatred of McCain. With Hillary and Obama still slugging it out, this could curiously be very good PR for the Republicans.
So what do Hillary and Obama do? Well it’s hard to say. Policies and presentations are out there, but a grand narrative hasn’t yet emerged. If it’s the war, Obama wins the nomination and general election. If it’s the economy, Hillary gets the upper hand, could (and probably will) win the nomination, but how does she beat McCain in November? She hasn’t opened out her demographic, which Obama slowly has (at least that’s what Super Tuesday seemed to show). But could a one term senator beat a decorated war hero, admired by independents? Or what about a grand coalition between Obama and Clinton? This article gives good (and regrettable) reasons why it won’t happen.
As Jonathan Freedland points out, this is a landmark election, with very important issues in play (and bubbling below the surface – climate change and gay rights anyone?). Overall it’s about two different conceptions of the US and its place in the world. Whether it’s McCain, Clinton or Obama matters – how it ends up playing out remains anyone’s guess, although I’m sticking with my guess of McCain. Although the US now hates Bush as much as the rest of the world, I still think the country’s inherent conservatism, alongside McCain’s crossover appeal (Clinton remains polarising and Obama’s base isn’t big enough) will probably see him through. I hope I’m wrong, but Iraq seems no longer to be the big event it was going to be in this election.