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26 juin 2007

Reform, Prosperity, Peace

I was close! In an essay on America to be published in September, I write that what best summarizes the challenges of this year's election is Security, Prosperity, Liberty. McCain's new slogan is Reform, Prosperity, Peace.

It comes down to the same thing, you will agree, and I am kind of proud of myself for having captured the essence of the race, now the Republicans' rallying mojo... More seriously, McCain's slogan reveals how critical this election will be for the US. America has to reinvent the American project at home (a new social contact) and abroad (renew its global leadership), as I have already mentioned and as I explain in my essay.

My idea of John McCain is vindicated by this kind of things. On top of my list of US Presidents is Theodore Roosevelt. TR did reconcile national cohesion through State regulation of capitalism and the projection of ascending American power, which ought to combine restraint with self-assertion. TR invented progressivism in the US, which did put him at odds with the GOP - he eventually founded his own Bull Moose party. His social and economic ideas were to be developed on a full scale by FDR, a Democrat...

Théodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
26th US President from 1901 to 1909

Franklin Delanoe Roosevelt (1882-1944)
32nd US President from 1933 to 1945

McCain often refers to TR. Like him, he is a maverick, and many Conservative militants dislike him for his non conventional thinking on social and value issues. McCain has co-sponsored bills with Democrats, including on such sensitive issues as immigration.

In short, his very Rooseveltian slogan sums up America's need for a leader standing above party lines, able to listen to others. Someone that would not be dead certain as W.

As Jonathan Martin points out on CBS News, McCain invented his slogan on the spot, as he was responding to questions, and later made it official. Bush would not have had such wit Martin says in substance.

"It's difficult to imagine President Bush making up something on the fly and then having his campaign make it the centerpiece of the campaign. They likely would have hatched a carefully thought-out and tested message and then had the candidate deliver it. But McCain truly does speak for his own campaign, and when he comes up with a quick and nifty line they just go with it."

Of course, and that's why this election is extra-ordinary, Obama is also an answer to America's aspiration to a man above traditional politics. However, although "Change We can Believe In" is quite respectable, it is not as strong as McCain's French-sounding Reform, Prosperity, Peace...

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