PavCo Multimedia Synergistics Weblog

May 24, 2008

My Vote

I try to be fair and balanced in everything I do. I came into the political season with an open mind. I don’t believe in political parties, except as an indication of a person’s general philosophies. To say “Democrats are x” or “Republicans are y” has slightly more meaning than saying “redheads are x” or “left-handers are y”, inasmuch as Democrats or Republicans have chosen which party to join, presumably on the basis of common beliefs and goals.

I have chosen not to affiliate myself with a particular party. Oh, I suspect that somewhere in my early days as a voter, I put my name on the Democrat rolls; these were the days of Reagan’s ascendancy, and I was sure he was going to get us into World War III. But I have never campaigned as a member of a particular party (at the local level, it doesn’t matter, at least in our city), and, if asked, I identify myself as an “small ‘i'” independent.

Which is a long way of going around to say that I came into the political season with an open mind. (Actually, it’s a long way to come back around to it, as I started this post that way.)

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee got my interest quickly, as he made a couple of appearances on radio shows I listen to, and displayed a sharp and often self-deprecating sense of humor, but the more I learned of his beliefs and background, the less he appealed to me. Having seen more than one friend (and my self) laid off while the CEO who presided over the dismantling of the company got stock options and a golden parachute, I had little interest in Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani has always struck me as abrasive and one-note, benefiting from his “leadership” during 9/11, while dodging responsibility for the fact that it was his prior decision-making that crippled emergency response on that horrible day.

Which pretty much left John McCain. John McCain, who was an intriguing candidate against George W. Bush back in 2000, but who has fallen lockstep behind the President since. John McCain, who has abrogated his much-vaunted maverick status through his wrong-headed support for the war in Iraq, and whose “straight-talk express” has seemingly come derailed under the weight of trying to appease both the religious right and the middle-of-the-road independents that the Republicans will need to win in November.

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton was the presumptive nominee, and I didn’t have much problem with that, though there were potential problems in that Senator Clinton was a fairly divisive figure; she was one of those politicians that people either loved or hated, with very little in between. I had pretty fond memories of the Clinton era, and have always thought that Bill Clinton got a raw deal. It would have been interesting, given all that’s come out about the current administration, to see what would have happened if Congressional Democrats would have had the same taste for blood and tenacity to go after W the way the Republicans did Clinton.

Obama was a fairly unknown quantity. He promised (promises) change and hasn’t become entrenched in the ways of Washington, DC, so he may well be in a position to bring about some of the reforms he promises. But whether he has the connections or the pull to actually do so remains to be seen.

As the campaign progressed, though, Clinton and Obama distinguished themselves to me, in opposite ways. While Senator Clinton is certainly to be praised for her stick-to-itiveness and determination, I’ve become disenchanted by the constantly shifting rules, benchmarks, and goallines. Last year when the DNC penalized Michigan and Florida for moving their primary dates, Senator Clinton observed that the two primaries were obviously meaningless and the votes wouldn’t count. She expressed no problem with this. In fact, her reaction was just the opposite. Now that she needs those votes to bolster her tenuous and ridiculous claim that she’s leading in the popular vote, she’s comparing the votes’ not counting to the civil rights movement. She says that the only thing that matters is the popular vote, but her only hope of getting the Democratic nomination at this point is to get the superdelegates to overturn the popular vote in her favor. And Bill Clinton, who’s part and parcel of any Hillary Clinton presidency, has, quite frankly, embarrassed himself and whittled away much of the good will he had as a result of the relative prosperity of his tenure, and the crashing disaster of what followed.

Obama, on the other hand, has been gracious and eloquent, and has impressed me quite a bit. Contrary to what the media and pollsters might have us believe, intelligence is not a bad thing, and while none of the candidates have any real claim to being the “guy (or gal) next door”, Obama seems to be at least within striking distance of remembering what it’s like to be a common person. For all of Clinton’s “I’m fighting for you” rhetoric the past few weeks, she doesn’t even know how to work a convenience store coffee machine. Yeah, I’m probably making too much of that, but heck, it resonated.

Yes, Obama’s speeches have been somewhat lacking in specifics, but those are there on his web site. In these days of the 30-second sound byte, there’s no time for specifics anyway, and in our YouTube environment, if you say too much, then individual sentences will be brought back to crucify you.

And let’s be real here. The description of the job may be “the most powerful man in the world”, but that’s not really true; the successful President will surround himself with knowledgeable experts and actually listen to their advice, not clear them out the moment they say something he disagrees with. The successful President will actively seek knowledge, not just those facts that either support his already-formed beliefs, or those that can be manipulated to do so. The successful President will build consensus, not division, and will not take the “my way or the highway” approach that has been part of American politics for too long now.

And I believe that the current candidate who is best positioned to do all of this is Barack Obama.

The 300 Project: 26/101


January 31, 2008

Political Eggshells

So I was going to write an incisive dissection of the Presidential race. I was going to use egg metaphors. Breaking a few eggs to make an omelet, wittily used to describe the “gloves are off” tactics of the remaining candidates, with Clinton and Obama sparring over Las Vegas food service workers being allowed to vote at their workplaces or Clinton’s ill-phrased comments regarding President Johnson’s role in the equal rights movement, and Obama proxies deliberately misrepresenting it. It’s cropping up on the Republican side now, with McCain and Romney going back and forth regarding whether or not Romney was actually calling for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq when he spoke of timetables.

I was going to talk about putting all of one’s eggs in one basket, the way Rudy (9/11) Giuliani (9/11) did. He (9/11) decided that since (9/11) there were way more delegates at stake in Florida (9/11) than in those piddly little states (9/11) that came before it (9/11), he’d ignore (9/11) them and concentrate on (9/11) Florida. Of course, by that time, he’d been so totally marginalized in the race that nothing (9/11) could save his candidacy. There was a great quote by Missouri Senator Kit Bond, our state’s Giuliani coordinator, who observered “He went up against the conventional wisdom, and the conventional wisdom won.” Well, yeah, Kit. That’s why it’s the conventional wisdom.

I was going to use the marginally egg-related term “chicks” to mourn the loss of two hot first-lady-wannabees, as Elizabeth Kucinich and Jeri Thompson stood by their men as they withdrew their candidacies.

But I’ve been letting these chances slip by, not writing them down until now, and in a much less incisive, much less in-depth manner than I had originally conceived. I find that, with everything else going on in life, I just don’t have the patience or mental acuity to compose these kind of posts either in the early morning or late evening when I’m usually at the computer in a “leisure” mode. I would love to write the type blog my friend Mike Wallack authors (noted in this post), but just don’t have the energy.

And I’m not sure that I have observations that aren’t readily available elsewhere. Except about the eggs. And I’ve made those observations now.

So my work here is done.

The 300 Project: 22/22

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