Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Money Off Obama's Campaign

A long time ago, when the Democratic and Republican primaries were still very much up for grabs, I conducted a survey amongst my friends as to who they thought would win.

Actually I went further and asked them to rank the candidates in order of preference.

As with all exercises of this nature, the answers revealed more about the participants than about any electoral prospects. Some patterns I observed -

1. Most of the ultra feminist women (Yes I do have such friends though I be a staunch "anti feminist" myself!) picked Clinton. Their choices were in order, Clinton, Obama, McCain , Huckabee. The more thoughtful of my women friends, who actually follow politics in some depth were split between Obama and McCain for the top spot, followed by a grab bag of secondary choices (including Hillary).

2. A very intelligent Christian friend chose (in order) Huckabee, Obama, McCain, Clinton. This was a bit surprising because the person in question is hardly the fanatic/ conservative type.

My choice was Obama/McCain/Huckabee-Clinton - the latter two being somewhat equal in my eyes. The funniest bit was how some "clintonista" friends bet money (about a 100 $) on the fact that she would win.

I was happy to take their money :-).

When the primaries were over, these "feminist" friends switched to McCain to "avenge" Hillary. (I guess if they were Americans, these people would be PUMAs). I proposed another bet that Obama would crush McCain. Heh! Taking money twice from deluded people is a great deal of fun!

The latest thought process amongst these folks is that Hillary as SOS will "outshine" Obama. I would be happy to bet money on that too, if I could nail down a metric for "outshine" I could bet on.

The mistake my friends make is that they get blinded by (a) their ideology - projecting all the unfairness ever perpetrated on women onto Clintons candidacy, no matter how foolish such projection be (b) Obama's rhetoric- they (being intelligent) sense that some of it is just vacuous/game playing and they "switch off".

In my opinion, Obama is the rare politician who combines the standard "negatives" we associate with politicians - ambition, a lust for power, dirty tactics and so on, with some of the virtues of the "ideal"politician - intelligence, empathy, vision etc. Throw in a frightening ability to stay focussed, organized and most importantly calm and emotionally stable in an unfolding crisis, and he makes the most formidable opponent one could ask for. Hillary was just outclassed politically, and duly pulverized. I am a great believer in the survival of the most competent.

I never saw the sense of voting for "someone like me" whatever the axis of comparison. I would have thought this would be like selecting a general for your army or a CEO for your corporation. You make a study of the competencies needed *for a particular situation* and then select the best person who fits.

I "chose" Obama not because he is like me (I shudder at the thought of someone like me becoming POTUS) or because he somehow represents my ambitions.

I concluded he had the best chance to win, just as someone who follows say boxing would know when one fighter just outclasses the others.

When people *asked* me how I knew Obama would win I often spout something like

"Hillary's autobiography is ghost written though the book title says "By Hillary Clinton" - the names of the ghost writers are on an inner flap. Obama writes his own books."

And people scratch their heads and think I said something very profound.

Heh! I can be nasty at times.

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