Andrew Sullivan–America has a clear-cut choice: the candidates of hope or fear

This leaves one viable candidate on either side. They are the least afraid and the most hopeful. They are Obama and John McCain, the Republican senator and Vietnam war hero. Yes, McCain’s experience has emerged as a great strength in an unstable world. But what remains impressive about his candidacy is that he has taken positions that are more forward-looking than many of his younger rivals.

McCain is the only Republican eager to address climate change. Faced with a Republican base furious about illegal immigration, he stuck to his view that illegal immigrants needed to be assimilated and even defended a bill that he authored with Ted Kennedy, the Democrat senator, to achieve this. He also bravely said that America does not need to torture prisoners and that the war in Iraq can be won. As the candidate of honour, he also became a candidate of hope ”“ especially in Iraq. He has seen his numbers surge recently in New Hampshire and, if he can prevent Romney getting momentum, he still has a chance to pull it off.

Obama, of course, based his entire candidacy on the title of his campaign book, The Audacity of Hope. The fearful have every reason to look elsewhere. If you do not believe that a black man can be president; if you do not believe that America can risk talking to Iran’s leadership or withdrawing from Iraq without losing the wider war; if you think it’s naive to hope that the polarising culture war of the past 40 years can ever end; if you doubt that a man with a name like Obama who once attended a secular madrasah in Indonesia can ever win a majority of US votes, you really should vote for Clinton.

Read it all.


Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

19 comments on “Andrew Sullivan–America has a clear-cut choice: the candidates of hope or fear

  1. Chris says:

    let’s be clear – McCain has no shot. his views on campaign finance, immigration, and global warming are just plain anathema to a considerable bloc of the Republican party. plus he will be 72 next year, that is too old.

    Obama is another story – he is running against a weaker field than McCain. And while he is bright and appealing on the stump, he is inexperienced, unaccomplished and too young (46). just consider him in the context of the article by Broder that Kendall just posted. he’s got the best shot in the general election of any of the Dems though…..

  2. BCP28 says:

    With all due respect to Chris #1, I would have liked it if Sullivan might have given the “second tier” in both parties some attention.


  3. Tom Roberts says:

    Concur on Obama. Given Huckabee vs Obama, I’d vote Dem for the first time in decades. And concur concerning age issues on McCain. McCain had his chance 8 years ago, and he positioned himself wrong for the GOP nomination.

    Where I think Sullivan errs in his analysis is that he lets his personal stance on sex issues favor his stance on Romney. He also appears not to ‘like’ Giuliani. But [i]de gustibus non disputandem est[/i] doesn’t apply to politics, on any practical level.

  4. Chris says:

    Tom, rest easy. Huckabee has no shot either, too bad for him (but good for the country) that the primary season did not start 3 weeks ago.

  5. Tom Roberts says:

    Chris- I’ll never forget my 88 year old grandfather on his death bed, and the Presbyterian pastor comes in to make conversation and ask how things are going. In passing the pastor gets onto politics, and presumes that my grandfather had voted often for Democrats as well as Republicans. That brought a quick inhaled rasp, and everyone thinks that they just heard the death rattle. But my grandfather finally exhales, “Never voted for those rascals in my life”.
    Sometimes I’m getting to sympathize with him more and more.

  6. ElaineF. says:

    Call me crazy, but I want my president to bring more to the table than “hope.” And change for change’s sake is sometimes worse than useless.
    I’ve sort of gotten over Newt’s decision not to run…but only just!

  7. Jeffersonian says:

    If it were a choice between Obama and McCain, I’d stay home.

  8. sophy0075 says:

    Where is Sam Nunn when we need him?

  9. Harvey says:

    My wife and I have always voted a split ticket and shall continue to do so. Yes, we have to register our party preference, (our secret alone), but that doesn’t mean we have to vote along party lines when election day arrives. We never have – we never will. I don’t even ask who she votes for – frankly, it is none of my business.

  10. Scott K says:

    [blockquote]McCain has no shot. his views on campaign finance, immigration, and global warming are just plain anathema to a considerable bloc of the Republican party.[/blockquote] Ironically, some of his positions that I most admire as a candidate are campaign finance, immigration and global warning. However, I’m really not in sync with him concerning Iraq. And this is speaking as someone who has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1988. But I’m with you, Chris, in agreeing that these positions will not garner enough support in the party to earn the nomination (unfortunately). My primary vote will either go to Obama or McCain – whoever would seem to need the vote more when our state holds its primaries.

  11. Jeffersonian says:

    And didn’t we have a President of, and from, Hope in the 1990s? I seem to recall a rather robust period of prosperity, yes, but also a thriving terrorist movement that culminated in 3,000 people being massacred in a couple of hours. Anyone want a repeat?

  12. Philip Snyder says:

    It is election fields like this that remind me of a bumper sticker I saw about 15 years ago.
    “Vote for Chuthulu! Why choose the [b]lesser[/b] of two evils?”
    (With apologies to H. P. Lovecraft)

    Phil Snyder

  13. jefcoparson says:

    Obama is on the record supporting the death of the pre-born on demand. He also singularly stopped the consideration of a ban on partial-birth-abortion while in the Illinois Legislature – and in a 2004 fund raising letter stated that “the ‘so-called’ partial-birth abortion was a legitimate medical procedure that should be protected.” I shudder to think of this man as our President – and the pre-born cry out that such a thing should never occur.

  14. roanoker says:

    Great, we can all agree on that lady person. You know, what’s her name?

  15. Id rather not say says:

    McCain has more of a shot than some of you may realize. And he has a visceral dislike of Romney (so does Hucakbee). I don’t think anyone can call the Republican race.

    Actually, the Dems may have some surprises, but their long shots are longer than the Republican ones.

  16. Sarah1 says:

    Wow — after reading Andrew Sullivan, I’m beginning to like Romney.

  17. Katherine says:

    Well, then, Sarah, Andrew Sullivan has done something useful!

    I’d be surprised to see McCain do well in states that do not allow crossover voters in the primary, and perhaps he’ll have trouble even in the ones that do since the Democratic nomination is in contention. On the whole, core Republican voters are negative about the immigration bill McCain pushed and about the free speech restrictions in McCain-Feingold. His Iraq stand would help him except that there are other candidates with similar views.

  18. Katherine says:

    sophy0075, [url=;=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print&oref=slogin]here[/url] is what Sam Nunn is doing. He’s helping NY’s Mayor Bloomberg plan a run as an independent.

  19. libraryjim says:

    Roanaker wrote
    [i]Great, we can all agree on that lady person. You know, what’s her name? [/i]

    Around here we call her “She who must not be named”.