I don't dislike Barack at all; I actually really like him. I said in 2004 when I saw him speak that he should be president one day. I just don't think he should be in 2009. He's young - he can, and should, wait a few more years, get more experience. True, Hillary is not as warm and amiable as he, but she is competent to the hilt. And Bush has gotten us into such huge messes anywhere he touched with his anti-Midas fingers, we need the competency.
Below is an article that explains exactly how I feel (I've sent it to some of you already) and probably does so better than I can. But to put it simply, the difference between Hillary and Barack getting the nomination is like the difference between winning £1,000,000 or £975,000 - sure, I prefer the first, but I ain't gonna be upset about the second.
Who should be the world's most powerful person?
As Iowa's caucuses start a global ball rolling, my dream team is President(s) Clinton and Vice-President Obama
Timothy Garton Ash
Thursday January 3, 2008
Who do you want to be the most powerful person in the world? Like the snowy caucusers in Iowa today, we all ask ourselves this question, though unlike them we don't have a vote. Less than 300,000 people are expected to participate in this evening's caucuses; 3 billion will be watching out for the result. Tread carefully, Iowans, for you tread on our dreams.
One way to answer the question is to imagine we can pick whoever we like to be the most powerful person in the world. Nelson Mandela? The Dalai Lama? A great philosopher? An innocent child? Yourself? Suggestions welcome.
In the real world, that most powerful person will be an American. And the chances are that she or he will be one of the leading Democrat or Republican candidates for president, although New York mayor Michael Bloomberg remains an intriguing trans-party possibility.
As between Democrats and Republicans, the choice for the world's floating non-voters is, this time around, what Americans call a "no-brainer". After two terms of one of the most incompetent and unsuccessful administrations in recent history, it's time for a change. Were there an outstanding Republican candidate, this might be a closer call; but there isn't. John McCain has a remarkable life story, which commands respect. He is probably too old, and perhaps too erratic, to be a good president. All the others have major weaknesses, whether of character (Giuliani), ideology (Huckabee) or backbone (Romney).
Equally important, the Republican candidates largely agree with each other on several policies that would be bad for the world. Like President Bush, they are still in deep denial about the radicalism needed to meet the epochal challenge of climate change, energy security and sustainable growth. Equally, they carry too much political baggage, on issues from Iraq to Guantánamo, to make the necessary step-change into a long-term, many-sided struggle against international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the fallout from failed or faltering states like Pakistan. How could anyone with an ounce of judgment vote for a man who says, as Mitt Romney has said, that "we ought to double Guantánamo"?
That leaves the Democrats. I started 2007 as an enthusiastic Obamaite. I go into 2008 a sober Clintonian. I continue to believe that Barack Obama is the only candidate who could change the United States' image overnight. It is now consistently less popular across the globe than at any time since international polling began. Obama personifies those aspects of American society that even some of Washington's fiercest critics admire, and he has some good ideas too. The trouble is, the more I watched him last year, the more convinced I became that he is not yet ready for the job.
One small moment sticks in my mind: responding to a question in one of the debates, he said he would start to address the problem by calling the presidents of Mexico and Canada (the latter does not have a president). A trivial slip in itself, but there have been too many like it, as well as too much waffling. Of course, an inexperienced president can learn on the job, as the last two did. But look how disastrous that was in Bush's first term. And Bill Clinton's was not that hot either; witness the disgrace of inaction over Rwanda, not to mention dithering over Bosnia. In an increasingly dangerous world, with this new year ushered in by a nuclear-armed Pakistan trembling on the verge of anarchy, we can't afford that blunder-time any more.
The point about the Clintons is that they know the mistakes to avoid because they've already made most of them. They've learned the hard way. And let's be clear about this, in choosing Clinton, American voters would be choosing Clintons. In reality, this would be President Clintons, or Presidents Clinton. But that's another advantage.
Hillary herself has become, at 60, absolutely formidable. Superbly briefed on every issue, almost word perfect, scarcely ever putting a foot wrong, tried and tested as few human beings have been. At a cattle auction site in Ames, Iowa, the other day, she joked that they could "look inside [her] mouth", as farmers do with cattle, if it helped them to make up their minds. And the truth is that if anyone in the world has been "looked inside the mouth", it is the Clintons.
Is she simpatica? No. At least not as a public persona. The outward warmth is all with Bill. Frank? That's not exactly what the record suggests. Shall we say, as honest as a lawyer. But we don't need the most powerful person in the world to be nice. We need her to be good at the job - grownup, knowledgable, responsible, tough, a safe pair of hands after eight years of a blunderer. And the more so for having to assist her one of the most articulate, well-informed and skilful politicians on the planet. Two for the price of one. And behind the two of them, several potential foreign policy teams of great experience to draw on, with views closer to those prevailing in most of the world's leading democracies - and therefore better placed to forge the indispensable alliances. Hillary's own pitch is that the US needs someone "ready to be president on day one". Well, she would say that, wouldn't she. But she happens to be right.
There would be the added satisfaction of seeing a woman break through what must be the ultimate glass ceiling (unless, that is, we imagine one on the throne of St Peter). What the return of the Clintons would not do is to work an Obama effect on America's image abroad. Instead, millions around the world will ask: what kind of a democracy is it in which the elected president is always called either Bush or Clinton? So we need Obama too. Give him a few more years of hard experience, such as Hillary has garnered, and he could make an inspirational president. And what better way to gain that experience than by serving as her vice-president? Very unlikely, I know, especially if she wants to run for a second term. But Clinton-Obama would be my dream team.
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