Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Obama Rudd Aliance?

If you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, they say, it will jump out straight away. But, if you place the same frog into a pot of cold water which is heated only gradually to reach boiling point, the frog will not realise the danger until it is too late. Frogs' survival instincts are wired to detect only abrupt changes in temperature.

Barrack Obama came onto my radar during the 06 mid term elections, where he used that campaign trail to test his own. Kevin Rudd a little earlier when he fought a single handed battle to expose the Howard government’s involvement in the infamous UN Oil for Food scandal.

As it turns out, the style of these two is very different, but the substance is showing startling signs of alignment. The style brings to mind the frog analogy. Perhaps the US demands a star candidate operates at boiling point, where the Australian system is more amenable to the simmer.

My concern is that I like Obama, or at least the direction he wants to take the US; sometimes I get the impression he and Rudd are copying each others answers, with one scrawling them with great flourish, the other in a neat prim hand. The answers are still the same.

To make an impression in this election round Obama must be on the boil, which sets dangerous expectations on a successful candidate. Rudd was so bland in his campaign, and continues to be as PM, that nearly anything he does now seems audaciously brilliant. The expectations on a successful Obama will incredibly challenging to deliver.

Both Obama and Rudd are taking public policy in the right direction; they both seem to represent ideas of inclusion and tearing down ideological barriers. They both seem to want to deliver the best outcomes for the greatest number of the population.

Obama suggests that legislators should legislate and the President assist them in doing that, not bully them into his agenda. Rudd has already invited the Australian opposition to be joint partners in resolving the thorny indigenous issues.

Obama cites his constitutional law background and a desire to return his country to the intent of the constitution, after a decade or so of trampling the document. In many ways I see Rudd changing our constitution, the one Britain gave us, to serve this country better. But it will be organic and popular change – oh and legal.

Mainly I fear that Obama’s need to be at boiling point will force the frog out of the pot before it is ready to serve. I hope not, the US is a similar culture in some ways but very different in most.

Until the Bush/Howard alliance we were much further apart socially, but thee is still a significant gap. The gap is fine, Obama’s ability to keep the frog in the pot is a worry.


D.K. Raed said...

Don't worry, Cart. It's just a political expedient here that we need some fire to roust the voters out of the depressed apathy many have been suffering with since 2001. And you notice it's working; we are having huge primary turnouts. I have no doubt that once he's in office, Obama will become the statesman he needs to be to effectively govern & reverse the damage done over the past 8-yrs.

You are right that the expectations will be "incredibly challenging". I hope we can allow him the time he needs to deal with the damage, rather than expect immediate results.

Cart said...

d.k. it is exciting to see the potential direction. I'm sure Obama can do it.

abi said...

Let's not count out Ms. Ready-On-Day-One just yet. She'll stop at nothing to get what she wants. Let's see what pot of boiling water she puts Obama in in the next few weeks.

This doesn't mean I'm rooting for a Clinton nomination. I'm not sure that Obama can bring about real change in the US. But I am sure that Clinton has no intention of even trying.

Cart said...

abi, you know how it goes, don't spoil a good story with the truth. Can you imagine the comparison working with Hill?
Let's just say I was stretching the metaphor a little ;)

Cart said...

I should add, now having had the chance to scan the serious weekend papers and some TV news shows, The take here is a race between Obama and McCain.
Albeit with passing reference to the fact that Hillary is still in the race, but probably not wanting to spoil their stories with any more than that.
A TV comparison between Obama and Rudd today, essentially on style not substance, backed up some of my blog.