The New York Times today endorsed Hillary Clinton and John McCain as the respective candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties in the 2008 Election.
While the NYT is hardly the bellweather of the chattering classes of America, its endorsement does agree with how I think the campaign will shape up. Senatory Clinton is widely perceived as the best Democratic candidate in terms of having a national campaign organisation and the ability to quickly set up a working administration as soon as possible after winning. As long as the national media and, apparently, the voters themselves care more about personalities and picking a winner than the issues themselves, this counts for a lot.
Senator McCain is probably the only member of the Rational Wing of the Republican Party, i.e. the one which still believes in modern theories of biology and, it is rumoured, the role of the state and civil liberties. I happen to think he is one of the few honourable people with a national following left in the GOP, with consistent views and a record of service, although I'm sure the readers of this blog will be able to find hundreds of examples to disprove this.
What interests me extremely is the next step: the build-up and eventual result of November 4th election. At present, I expect John McCain to win a national election by a clear margin. Although both he and Hillary have a fabled electability problem, I believe the GOP and a good many independents will rally around him as the "independent" candidate, particularly if Hillary is the opponent. Hillary will be widely reviled as the "insider" candidate (see my blog entry of January 21st), and I'm afraid that if her speaking skills and demeanor don't improve, she will alienate too many voters.
I also believe that if the Democratic campaign continues at its present rate, the party will be demoralised and fractured come November, and there is not enough money in the world to win an American election on these terms.
I accept that this scenario is shaky and may change. John McCain has never really been tested in the national debate. I predict, however, that a number of weapons in the Democratic arsenal - like Iraq - won't be enough to sway public opinion far enough to elect Hillary. I'm also waiting to see specific policy proposals - and a solution how to pay for them - besides the vague bromides that both sides are putting out.
Maybe I shouldn't wait for too long.
We live in interesting times.