Monday, September 10, 2007

These are the people that want to be President? Oy, vey!

I'm not sure what bothers me more, the fact that both parties seem to have a vast array of seemingly qualified candidates or the fact that none of the candidates really stand out from one another. On certain issues, at least the ones the press and the candidates agree on, each party's candidates seems to more or less agree. It's like going to the grocery store and comparing sacks of flour on the shelf. Each has slightly different, yet similar packaging. Each makes florid comments and claims as to the quality of the flour contained therein. So how do we tell them apart?

With flour we have essentially three choices: we can buy on brand or reputation, we can buy based on previous experience, or we can buy according to price. Guess what? The same can be said for our political candidates! We can decide based on party or what the candidate tells us. We can use their previous experience and our level of trust in their willingness and ability to keep their word. Or we can choose to decide based on how much we think it's going to cost us, that is, will the benefits they supply to our country outweigh the problems they bring to the table.

So what kinds of flour/candidates are we looking at?

Obama appears to bring a freshness to the debate. There is a certain youthful vitality, some would say virility, and the willingness of youth to seek nonstandard solutions to problems. Unfortunately, that which makes him appealing also becomes his shortcomings: youth, and inexperience, and maybe a tendency be so radical that he screws up things even worse.

On the other hand, Hillary is a relatively known quantity... mostly. While Obama has less to lose by speaking his mind, Hillary has to be much more politically cautious. There are times when you are almost not sure where she is going to come down on a particular subject. It's as if she doesn't want to alienate or upset what she considers her political base. Fortunately for her, she has no problem attacking the current administration of Republicans. So she leaves Democrats feeling vaguely antsy and Republicans enraged. And then there is the Bill factor... will it help or hurt? Has he been out of office long enough for people to forgive him most of his sins? What ever the answer to that, Bill has a lot more charisma than Hillary who comes off as somewhat scary. For that reason alone, Bill needs to be up there slightly behind and off to the side of Hillary. Close enough to make her look better, but not close enough to give the appearance of constantly whispering in her ear and running the show.

And then there is Edwards. He is vice presidential material and nothing more at best. At worst he is yesterday's news. Moving on.

With Dodd you get the feeling he'd probably make a damn good president and he certainly looks the part. He seems confident, experienced in person and his record in life reflects the same. Which means he doesn't have a chance. The question here is would he take the vice presidential slot? His experience, apparent ability and solidly built, grandfatherly appearance might give the appearance of having someone with wisdom and clear thinking on the team. But is he willing to settle for just being vice president? I think he may be the missing piece of the puzzle. Alas, in this media driven age, when the unusual gets more press, he doesn't stand a chance unless the other candidates pull a Howard Dean.

And, speaking of puzzles, there's Richardson. He doesn't have a chance and so he appears to bring a sense of "I'm not a Washington insider, I'm one of you" to the race. Within the Democratic Party platform, he can pretty much speak his mind. he seems sensible. So, he doesn't have a chance. Moving on.

If I forgot to mention anyone else, well, so have the voters forgotten to remember anyone else, too.

And then there is the Republican side of the campaign.

It goes like this: Romney, too much baggage and, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, there's the religion angle. Romney, if you want a candidate to help the Democrats, he's your man. The same can be said for the next candidate on the slate, Giuliani. Again, too much baggage, wives, tempers, and the sense that he fudges the truth to put himself in a better light. And there's the little problem of more extreme conservative support... he either doesn't have it or it can be assured. Another no go, moving on.

I'm having trouble remembering the names of the other Republican candidates at best, at worst they all kind of blend together and none of them have a chance. And that kind of sums up the Republican side, you got people who want to run, but most voters really don't want any of them.

Which brings us to Fred Thompson, because with him in the race all the lesser Republican candidates will be marginalized right out of the race. Smart man. Saved his money, bided his time, let other candidates determine what the issues were that the people were really interested in... or at least the issues the reporters hoped that the people were really interested in. Early on in the political process, when he started hinting that he would throw his hat in the ring, his candidacy had a certain appeal. Strangely though, the night he entered the race he uttered his bumper sticker campaign platform, those lovely three words:
security, prosperity, and unity. That was the point at which I decided that he was starting to get scary and I started backing away from the idea that he might make a good president. He may have a better chance of winning than all the other Republican candidates, but will he be good for the country. I don't know... we have his carefully hoarded words, but how much of it is nothing more than a really slick marketing campaign? That leaves me feeling uneasy. Still, he may have the popularity to help the Republicans hang on to the presidential office.

Then there is Ron Paul. Ron Paul. Ron Paul. Ron Paul. He not a chance in hell of ever being President, but out of all the candidates from both sides of the aisle I can safely say I know where he stands, I know what political positions he has taken, I know what he wants to do for this country and for its citizens. He is a breath of fresh air. He is the closest thing to an honest candidate I have seen in many a year. I disagree with him on so many things and, yet, I agree with them on so many things and, since he's honest and right up front with his positions, I feel I can live with those things that I don't agree with. I'm not scared he's going to change because he doesn't seem to have any reason nor desire to lie to achieve the presidency.

There is one other thing: I hail from Houston, Texas. I am surrounded with conservative voters as well as large numbers of liberal voters. They seem to live side by side in relative peace in my neighborhood and in other neighborhoods around town. I see the occasional Obama sign. I see the occasional support for Hillary and if I've seen or heard any overt support for the other Democratic candidates, it has failed to get my attention. I've seen a couple of bumper stickers for Romney, I haven't detected any strong support for Giuliani. And the rest of the candidates seem to fade into the background. With one exception.

Ron Paul. I have heard young people talk about him. I know Democrats and Republicans alike that have his signs out in front of their homes, I passed them when I'm driving through my neighborhood and, because of my job, I cover many miles along the streets in my neighborhood. Bumper stickers and Ron Paul's name written in the dirt on the back of a pickup trucks window expressing support. There are polls and surveys that say he only has 2% support and that he is a second-tier candidate, but it is solid unwavering support.

Love him or hate him, you cannot argue that he brings intellectual and political honesty to a race that sorely needs them. Could he win? Possibly, but only if all the other candidates really screw up and then there is the general feeling that maybe America is ready for a good dark horse candidate, someone who isn't hog tied to the existing political structure. So, no, he probably doesn't stand a chance, but wouldn't it be interesting for the country if he did?

There is one the really sad thing about this presidential election though. If a candidate could run under the name Mr./Ms. I'm-Not-George-Bush And-None-Of-The-Above he might be able to win this race by the largest percentage in history! LOL!

Stay tuned for our next essay, what effect will all these early primaries have on the race next year? Worst-case scenario? So much time will pass between the primaries and the unofficial counting of the electoral votes in the political convention that the apparent candidates will immolate themselves through error (can you say Gary Hart?) or feet in mouth. Or will the voters just get tired of listening to the candidates run in place and try to stay in the public eye. Voter weariness with the system may play a major role.

In the end, who will be our next president? There is a growing uneasy feeling that a lot of people would like to say, none of the above, let's start this race again from scratch.

And so I remain,
my usual irritated self.


Blogger toronator said...

Ron Paul can win if we all get behind him.

September 10, 2007 at 6:00 AM  

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