Well, despite those who from afar are ready to call the race for McCain, here in the actual jurisdiction, no-one knows what the hell is going on. Reason is, America has never faced a competition like this.

Last time there was a real left right split was 1972 with the Nixon-McGovern match. At that time, manufacturing occupied about 50% of the US economy, around thirty per cent of American workers were in unions, people got their news from highly channelled sources – an hour of TV news (‘film at eleven’), a daily paper, etc. Race was the main non-economic, non-foreign affairs issue, with women’s lib a distant second, and environmentalism sneaking in an almost imperceptible third.

Though McGovern and Nixon were pretty different types, both were white-guy professional politicians, McGovern trying to build a bridge to his youthful base with that sort of perique role of one-inch-over-the-collar long black-grey hair that social historians of the future will stare at in wonder. But he was an abstemious Dakota man, part of the Lutheran mafia that ran the left-liberal wing of the Democrats, up against a Californian Quaker.

Today, manufacturing is around 15-20% of the economy, depending on how you count it, union membership below 10% (below 5% in the private economy), casual work, short time, swing shifts have replaced the 9-5 day and the stable workplace, the cities have been replaced by sprawling exurbs, 24 hour news gives people a constant simulacra of reality, 60% of the US say they believe in the literal truth of the bible, 20% are young earth creationists (ie the earth is 6-10,000 years old), 30% believe in alien abductions.

In 1972, 80% of the characters in movies and TV dramas shared jobs and incomes with a 100-200% range of the viewers. Now, the average is about 800-1000% — culture has become a fantasy negation of people’s actual life.

In other words, the US is a very, very different place.

And it is being offered very different candidates. McCain and Obama are not just differences on a spectrum, they’re different types of things. Obama, by my estimation, is speaking to the America I’ve described – he understands it in a way that Hillary didn’t, most of the liberal left didn’t, and the whole of the right doesn’t.

He’s the more interesting candidate.

And as always with the more interesting candidate, he’s getting more attention, good and bad. The disproportionate attention being given to Obama’s setbacks is ludicrous – witness the recent resignation of one of his three-person VP selection team Jim Johnston, which is all over the press. Johnston’s got the same sort of problems you’d expect from any Chicago south side pol.

But the sh-tty thing is that half of McCain’s team has had to quit over the past few months, because of the conflicts between Mr Straight Talk’s no-lobbyist policy and the fact that his staff are virtually all lobbyists.

Yet these disappearances are as quiet as any latin American black op. They just go.

Meanwhile Obama bumps fists with his wife at a speech – and a Fox news reporter canvasses the opinion that it’s a ‘terrorist fist bump’.

And that’s what November will tell us. It will tell us whether a candidate can still win despite an unrelenting landslide of sh-t pouring on him for months.

If so, then Fox News, and the whole Murdoch project, the systematic manipulation of public opinion, has officially failed.

And that is worth the price of the ticket.


The resignation of Jim Johnson from Obama’s VP search team has Obama saying it’s just not possible to vet the vetters. But while he’s trying to keep his halo clean, the search for VP still seems to be wide open. And of course, some optimists are still hoping Saint Gore will step up to the Veep plate…

Get the wrap of what the US papers and bloggers are saying here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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