I was going to refrain from talking about the U.S. presidential race until after the primaries in New Hampshire. However, the magnitude of Barack Obama's victory in Iowa has prompted me to consider the topic a bit earlier.
A lot of my Canadian friends were outraged when, in a debate last August, Senator Obama said that, if elected President, he would call, "The President of Canada" to discuss NAFTA (if you haven't already seen it, check it out here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZjU2CBEIfh4&feature=related). Should Canadians be worried that a front-runner for President of the United States doesn't know that Canada has a prime minister and not a president? I don't think so.
The United States has been treading water for years now. According to a number of recent polls, a vast majority of Americans think that the country is "on the wrong path." I'm with those folks. The economy just doesn't seem right (I'm sure that the U.S. is in a recession now and predict that it will last through Q3 of 2008), the stock markets have underperformed those of other countries for several years running and the nation re-building exercise in Iraq and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan are taking longer than anyone reasonably expected. Things just seem out of sorts.
I know that a lot of Canadians look upon the current situation in the U.S. with smug derision and a healthy dose of schadenfreude. My advice? Knock it off. I've heard the argument that the Canadian economy has "de-coupled" from the U.S. economy. For reasons that I can get into later, I'm not buying any of it. If the U.S. economy crashes and burns, Canada's economy is going down with it. Canadians should be rooting for the presidential candidate most likely to reinvigorate the U.S. and lead it out of its current funk. Even if that candidate needs a lesson in Canadian civics.
(p.s. In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that I like Barack Obama. A lot. I'm also a big supporter of Mitt Romney. Clearly the two best candidates in my view.)