Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Like Howard, like Bush? 

I'm not going to even try to pick the result of the presidential election - hell, if I didn't do it for my own Australian poll in October, I won't try to be a prognosticator for a contest which I'm only observing from afar via electronic media.

Having said that, I'll say that I'm struck by many similarities between this year's Australian and American elections. Both Howard and Bush are tough and seasoned fighters who tend to be much underestimated by their opponents. Critics see them as wooden and unimaginative performers who lack glamour and charisma. Thus in their focus on the superficial, critics miss the "gut" connection both Howard and Bush have with an average person that doesn't necessarily get their opinions from the "New York Times" or the "Sydney Morning Herald." Coincidentaly, both Howard and Bush are said to have lost their respective debates to the seemingly more at-ease, fluent and presidential/Prime Ministerial-looking opponents. Howard, of course, went on to trounce Mark Latham in the only contest that in the end mattered - on the election day.

Both Howard and Bush generate strong emotions from their detractors. Blinding hatred and contempt seem to be common reactions among the enlightened elites. Yet, both Bush and Howard-haters, I think, make a fundamental mistake of assuming that the majorities in our respective countries share their pathological loathing. Hatred might be a great force to energise and motivate the base and the hard-core activists, but it tends to leave cold the swinging voters, moderates and everyone else caught in the middle of the great ideological clash.

I hope that the most important parallel will come to be fulfilled on November 2.


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