The Book!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Early Odds

I tease my wife about being addicted to basketball and the LA Lakers. But I am just as addicted to US politics. What am I doing surveying the 2012 presidential field this early, when anything could still happen, and I don't even have a vote?

Junkie.

To run against Obama in a couple of years, the Republicans should choose a candidate who speaks directly to Barack Obama’s weaknesses, and to the current anti-incumbent mood. So, paradoxically, the ideal candidate is someone who exudes competence and experience, but is also a fresh face. Obama’s most vulnerable point is his apparent amateurishness; but, on the other hand, there is a general plague-on-both-their-houses anti-incumbent mood. See, most obviously, the Tea Party movement.

A tough bill of lading to fill.

Sarah Palin is not the one to run this time: she has previously prompted questions of competence and experience, and she is also suffering from overexposure.

Newt Gingrich is better—competent, and at least out of Washington for a while. He also has a bit of a populist aura from ‘92.

Mitt Romney is a bit too old-money and old-power to carry the Tea Party banner. He’d be good, but not the best.

Mike Huckabee’s current Fox stint ensures he is no longer a fresh face. Nor does he radiate the gravitas the time calls for.

Rudy Giuliani radiates competence. He’d be a powerful nominee, if he could ever get the Republican nomination. But that seems unlikely. If it didn’t work for him in 2008, I fear it’s not going to work better four years later, as the memories of 9/11 further fade.

I think, on the whole, the time and the mood calls for someone who has not run before.

General David Petraeus obviously comes to mind. He looks likely to be still tied up with his new Afghanistan gig; but you never know. Imagine if he pulls off something really impressive there, then steps down in summer 2011?

Chris Christie, brand new governor of New Jersey, is a fresh face, still, and is showing himself to be a truly inspiring speaker. That’s promising for a populist appeal.

There are rumblings that Jeb Bush might consider a run. He does indeed project competence, partly thanks to his family connections; he has been out of the public eye for a while, and there may well be significant built-up nostalgia for George W. Bush by the time the campaign heats up. Properly, he is too well-connected to head the Tea Party cause; but coming from the South helps there. Coming from Florida also helps with the primary process: a big one, early.

Okay, truth: if I had my druthers, right now, it'd be Jeb Bush. With Petraeus for VP.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Childhood Abuse Causes Depression. Duh.

Montreal continues to be, as it long has been, a world centre for the investigation of the human brain. Recently, according to Coolopolis, the experts at McGill and Douglas Hospital confirmed that abuse during childhood changes areas of the brain, leading to depression.

Among other things, this invalidates all those claims back in the 80’s and early ‘90s that everything, notably both homosexuality and mental illnesses, were based on “brain chemistry” and were therefore mostly or entirely genetic. Brain chemistry itself is plainly altered by our experiences and our thinking habits. As ought to be obvious to unaided human reason, even without such evidence.