I got back to the U.S. on August 19, and in the time I’ve been back, the following highlights have come and gone so fast it’s hard to remember them all:
- Beijing Olympics – here we found that certain individuals are capable of amazing feats… and the Chinese stage-managed the whole thing pretty well, though they don’t seem to like public protests much more than the U.S. does.
- Democratic Convention – went almost too smoothly, despite all sorts of talk that the Clintons would hijack things. Obama’s stadium speech was historic, not stirring, but a clear statement of what he wants to do. The choice of Biden was not exciting, but added experience to the ticket.
- Republican Convention – in a brilliant political move, McCain’s choice of Palin sucked the air right out from the Democrats (while basically invalidating the logic of McCain’s attacks on Obama up to that point). I know Palin can read a speech, but there’s precious little evidence of greater ability so far. Only one direction for 90% favorable ratings, and that’s down.
- Two hurricanes – one that spared New Orleans, one that was pretty hard on Galveston and Houston.
- Financial meltdown – still ongoing drama of Wall Street that is growing to epic proportions. There’s a growing undercurrent of suspicion on both sides about this latest alarm (see for example “Don’t Believe the Hype” by Daniel Larison over at the American Conservative).
Today I was able to get my ballot for the November election, so I’ve already placed my vote, regardless of the events of the next few weeks. Both tickets are led by Senators who have little background as executives, both have a combination of younger and older. We really can’t know what the person who is elected will do once in office, nor do we know what they will be faced with, so the vote is a bet on the judgment and capability of the candidate. I hope the debates shed a bit more light on the differences of the tickets, but I fear they will be more about ‘gaffes’ and ‘gotchas’.
My vote goes to Obama, based on what I’ve seen over the last year or so in terms of how he’s run his campaign, beaten long odds, and pretty much kept his cool.
Tomorrow morning I fly back to the Netherlands for about 7 weeks, so when I get back the election may be old news! For America’s sake I hope things settle down a little.