"It's happening again. The Democrats are about to lose an election they should win - and it could not matter more." If Americans choose McCain, they will be turning their back on the rest of the world, choosing to show us four more years of the Bush-Cheney finger. And I predict a deeply unpleasant shift.
Until now, anti-Americanism has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start - a fresh start the world is yearning for. And the manner of that decision will matter, too. If it is deemed to have been about race, the world's verdict will be harsh. Slate's Jacob Weisberg wrote recently, international opinion would conclude that "the United States had its day, but in the end couldn't put its own self-interest ahead of its crazy irrationality over race".
Even if Republicans should win on some other petty aspect of the culture wars, the point still holds. For America to make a decision as grave as this one - while the planet boils and with the US fighting two wars - on the trivial basis that a hockey mom is likable and seems down to earth, would be to convey a lack of seriousness, a fleeing from reality, that does indeed suggest a nation in, to quote Weisberg, "historical decline". Let's not forget, McCain's campaign manager boasts that this election is "not about the issues."