Today the USA heads to the polls to elect both its new president and the man who will take over the mantle of the leader of the free world. The latter crown has become tarnished of late but for as long as the USA is the main power he will affect all our lives. I have argued in the past that if the US president is to speak for us then we should have a say in who he or she is but that is an argument for another day.
President Bush is now so discredited that he is locked up in the White House until the elections are over. No Republican candidate whether for the presidency, Senate or Congress wants to be associated with him in any way. No doubt he is contemplating his legacy but it is a subject that most Americans and the rest of us would prefer to forget.
The USA desperately needs a change and so does the wider world. We can forget the election rhetoric because whether Obama or McCain wins the keys to the White House their actions will be governed not by their manifestos but by wider events that will set the agenda.
As far as Spain is concerned it needs an Obama victory so it can regain its place at the world table when the USA plays host. George Bush has made it clear that he will never forgive José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and his socialist party for defeating his ally and friend, José María Aznar, at the 2004 General Election and pulling Spain’s troops out of Iraq. Equally worrying is the fact that Senator McCain doesn’t appear to know who Zapatero is and Sarah Palin probably doesn’t know where Spain is.
Obama has been derided by his Republican opponents as a “socialist”, which isn’t true, but the Democrats are more in tune with PSOE and the wider socialist movement in Europe as well as the British Government. He also knows who Zapatero is and there is no doubt that under his presidency the leader of the world’s eight largest economy based on GDP would not be ignored at economic summits.
Yesterday the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, voiced his personal support and that of the EU institutions for the inclusion of Spain in the world financial summit being hosted in Washington on October 15. Speaking in Madrid he said Spain should be at the table both because of the size of its economy but also because it has a great interest in the reform of the financial system. Indeed not only does Spain have the largest bank in the euro zone but its system has been less badly affected by the financial crisis that its EU partners.
As a lame duck president George Bush has tried to keep Spain from the summit. It is to be hoped that as a dead duck president, with Obama waiting in the wings, Washington will see sense and include Spain at these vital talks.