Four years ago I visited Los Angeles and saw the preparations for Barack Obama’s campaign. I wished the activists good luck and said if I were an American, I’d be joining them. The same is true today. I am a lifelong English Conservative, yet I see no problem with supporting Obama. It’s a view shared by many people over here, especially when the alternative is Mitt Romney.
I cannot understand why the poll gap between the candidates is so narrow. To me it is not a vote between left or right, as some see it, but between sense and no sense.
I have written before about Romney’s pathetic European trip. He is the true successor to George ‘Dubya’ Bush, the world’s biggest buffoon, who entered a curious but deadly symbiotic relationship with arch-egoist Tony Blair — the man who took my country into an illegal war, virtually bankrupted us, then made more money after leaving office than any Prime Minister in history.
While we have some strange politicians the UK, most of us regarded the 2012 lineup of Republican hopefuls with incredulity. What a baffling array of hockey moms, Tea Party people, and bible thumpers — an odd mixture of the religious right who seem at least a century out of date. There was Rick Santorum (or should it be Sanctimonious!) who wanted to stop access to birth control and someone called Newt who wanted to build a moon base. Well, if Rick had his way maybe there would be need for one.
I have no visceral hatred of the Republicans. I rather liked Ronald Reagan and I respected John McCain as a brave man but he made a catastrophic choice of running mate in 2008 by picking Sarah Palin. With Palin a heartbeat from the presidency, we would have spent four years shivering with terror under the bedclothes.
If you regard Romney as the best of a bad bunch this time round, it doesn’t say much for the rest of them. He is a gift to comedians and mimics everywhere. His introduction of his running mate, the creepy Paul Ryan, as ‘the next president of the United States’ was the funniest thing I’ve seen on my television since the Naked Gun films over 20 years ago.
I now look with horror at the prospect of President Romney and what that would mean for the world. I think it would become a more dangerous place. Could he really deal with some of the more troubled hotspots? I very much doubt it.
By contrast, Obama is a man who has gained international respect for both his domestic and foreign policy. I think his job was much harder than he anticipated but he has done well in difficult times. His ambition to drive through a basic health care scheme is wholly admirable. It will take time to see the benefits, but eventually the USA will have a healthier population and a stronger workforce. I have not met a single person in the UK who thinks otherwise.
Jerry Springer spoke movingly and effectively on Britain’s political show Question Time last week, enumerating Obama’s successes: “He said he'd get us out of Iraq. He stopped that. He got Osama Bin Laden. We have health insurance. You put that together, what else do you want from this man?"
Since Hurricane Sandy hit last week, Obama has played a blinder, winning praise from New Jersey’s Republican Governor, Chris Christie, and a ringing endorsement from New York’s independent Mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
There is one final reason why I want Obama to win. He has that rare quality of poise. It is hard to define but instantly recognisable and on a world stage its effect is inestimable.
Obama has been a good president. Given another term he would be a great one.