2008? Not a patch on 68

One of the pleasures of Slugger is the ability to go counter-intuitive, to go “agin” prevailing wisdom. Is the 2008 US election campaign the most earth-shattering, the most vital ever? Nah, only if you’re about 14. Are you really saying if it had been Gore rather than Dubya it would have made no difference? And you sure can’t have been around in ’68, baby. The big thing now is to fight the predictability. Obama now looks such a shoo-in the last ditch scare stories aren’t working. But he’s nothing like an impressive as his hype ( nor for that matter was JFK except over two things, his personal life, (sex life included) and the Cuban missile crisis). Take the closing stages of the campaign. The stuffy ol’ New York Times is updating fast and going interactive a lot these days. And never better than with live analyses of the standard stump speeches, first Obama’s, and then if you have another half hour to spare, McCain’s. There’s plenty of slanging and promises but at the start of the worst turndown in the US since the Great Depression of the 1930s. I don’t believe that either of them can afford to lower taxes or that Obama even with two thirds Democratic majorities in both Houses can bring in universal health care any time soon. Does anybody seriously think so? There’s not a jot of serious thinking for serious times in either of the big compendious political websites. Huffington Post is hysterical for Obama, natch. Drudge the mudraking specialist casts about for new niches and so today headlines a rogue poll to nudge the adrenalin flow along..

Come Monday morning 8 November look out for the sudden lurch to reality after the shortest honeymoon a victor is ever likely to enjoy. Unless that is, Obama really does lose. Obama the symbol, the vehicle of African-American dreams would become the symbol of cruelly thwarted ambition. In which case, I’d fear a revised repeat of what was by a full continent’s width the most dramatic political year ever in my lifetime, though most of it happened before the election, when in the cities it was “ burn baby burn “after the King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations, followed by the election of Nixon by the “silent majority.” Yes, 1968. And I really did shake that Bobby Kennedy by the hand.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London