First, I don't think any time in the recent past a US presidential primary has generated so much interest. Whoever becomes the President s/he will create a record as the first Black, woman or the oldest President.
The Democratic primary now very much resembles the final stages of a cricket match (the sport that arouses as much passion and interest in India as baseball and basketball does in the US).
Who is good for India?
It's generally felt that Republican policies are favourable to India. Last time it was John Kerry who spoke out against outsourcing jobs to India. Even this time, both Hillary and Obama have tried to win over middle class Americans by raking up outsourcing. I am not quite concerned, because, in such issues, my gut feeling is irrespective of Republican or Democratic views, it'll be what the American businessmen want that will prevail rather than what the ordinary American would want.
Personally, among the candidates, I'd rank my choice thus: Hillary, Obama and McCain. I have read a lot about the Clintons -- Bill and Hillary -- more than about Obama; and may be because of that I am favouring her. But Obama is as much impressive -- I've completely fallen for his oratorical style; a great communicator he is. His speeches are definitely worth listening to.
Hillary's attractiveness is the amazing experience she has behind her; and the family exudes an exceptionally remarkable charm. It's pretty certain that Obama has made it, but Hillary has surely let it be known that she is, nevertheless, a tough fighter the Americans can rely on. I haven't been able to relate to McCain at all, though I guess he too has a great record mainly for fighting in Vietnam.
Hillary: from First Lady to Vice-President?
Now all the focus will be on who will be Obama's running mate. I think it should be Hillary. The double-engined Democratic bandwagon will have more than adequate muscle to see through the race. But for that first Obama and Hillary will close ranks as fast as possible.
Unlike the Republican campaign, Democratic race has seen debates on the lines of Black and White; Man and Woman. There is a lot of scratching of the head happening to determine why Hillary, in spite of being a woman and with loads of experience, didn't come through clean. Or, did those very attributes go against her?
Similar questions are being asked about Obama as well. In spite of being Black and inexperienced how did he steal a march over Hillary? Some are talking of the how the number of delegates is hardly an indicator of one's actual popularity. Of course, it'sn't that the American electoral system is anywhere near perfect.
My take is this: Obama is ahead simply because he has been been able to connect to the masses much better. His communication skills have undoubtedly helped him; enormously. Ronald Reagan is another politician who worked his communication skills to great advantage -- arguably it played a big role in the beginning the end of the Communist empire by engaging Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union. And, Obama is miles ahead of McCain as far as connecting to people is concerned, if video clippings of their campaigns are any indication.
Imagine this in January 20, 2009 -- Mr Barack Obama, the President of the United States, and Ms Hillary Clinton, the Vice-President... that will be an amazing combination.
She shouldn't worry that she wouldn't be in the limelight, that she would have just a back-up role. Coming to think of it, actually it wouldn't be a role totally unfamiliar to her, for that's what she had been doing for eight long years when hubby Bill was in the White House. So it's perfectly possible for Obama and Hillary to have a perfect understanding regarding the roles they have to play. During this term, Vice-President Dick Cheney has played a no insignificant role in the post-9/11 engagement of his country with the rest of the world, mainly in Iraq.
Of course, this wouldn't be the same as she being in the White House itself. But so what? There was a time when things had hotted up so much in Bill's Oval Office, it didn't really matter if she was in the White House or not. She carried on her own administration of the United States as its First Lady. She is quite used to this sort backseat driving, with help of the actual driver or not, I guess.
But if Hillary is indeed chosen as Obama's running mate and goes on to become the vice-president, a possible problem will be Bill. Remember how he had almost wrecked Hillary's campaign recently? So what will Bill's role be? I am sure both Obama and Hillary will factor that in their plans.
Imagine, another driver, behind the back-seat driver, driving both Hillary and Obama! Bill is quite capable of that!
Photo captions and credits:
- Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., speaks to the media in Brandon, South Dakota Friday, May 23, 2008 as she apologizes for an earlier statement to the Argus Leader's editorial board in Sioux Falls, S.D. citing the June 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in defending her decision to keep running for the Democratic presidential nomination despite increasingly long odds.(AP Photo/Elise Amendola) Source
- U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) speaks at a rally in Sunrise, Florida, May 23, 2008. Reuters/Joe Skipper (United States) US presidential election campaign 2008 USA. Source