US elections: killer facts, what happens now? And Palin the poet

December 26, 2008

     By Duncan Green     

The December issue of my favourite current affairs magazine, Prospect, has some great analysis (laced with whimsy) of the election and transition. Top billing goes to an insightful assessment of Obama’s likely direction by Michael Lind. Lind cautions against euphoria, drawing on the already over-used comparison with FDR in predicting that Obama’s first term will mostly have to be devoted to dealing with the economic crisis. Sorting out the US health system will probably have to wait for a second term when, like FDR, reformers will need to think big. (Man of the moment Paul Krugman thinks Obama has to think even bigger than FDR – writing in the New York Times, he said ‘the truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for FDR’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious.’

Prospect also has a handy guide to the most influential thinktanks and other influences on Obama from Martin Walker at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He gives the nod to the Center for American Progress, the Brookings Institution and Lind’s own New America Foundation.

Here are a few killer facts from the issue:

The 2008 Presidential election cost $2.4bn, slightly less than Coca Cola’s annual advertising budget

In 93% of house of representatives races and 94% of senate races, the highest spending candidate won.

Obama has roughly $160m left in his war chest. Will he spend it on post election grassroots organizing through a new political action committee, modelled on Newt Gincrich’s 1990s Republican GOPAC?

Both 2008 candidates were left handed. George W Bush was the first right handed president in 30 years. (Now that’s sinister)

Oh, and Sarah Palin improvised a perfect 17 syllable Haiku in front of 30,000 people:

What’s the difference
Between a hockey mom and
A pit bull? Lipstick

Prospect also claims to have spotted a 14 line sonnet in her post-election comments on Africa (but I checked and it’s not really verbatim – they’ve had to do some judicious editing) and reckons she’s a shoe-in for America’s 47th poet laureate.


December 26, 2008
Duncan Green