A Few Last-Minute Thoughts
Man, ’tis caucus night, finally. It’s been VERY interesting the last few days watching the candidates gyrate about the state. The phone calls have tapered off, thankfully, but the mailbox is overflowing. Yesterday alone I had two direct-mail pieces hanging on my doorknob (one from Richardson, one from Obama), two Obama fliers, a Clinton, two Edwards, and a Kucinich. They’re very colorful. I didn’t read any of them.
Some random thoughts, in no particular order (these are strictly my very own opinions):
Republican Mitt Romney has really turned me off the past few weeks. Every time I turn the TV on, there’s his face. I’m kinda used to “commercial overload,” but Romney’s ads seem to be overwhelmingly negative. It seems like he never says anything at all about himself, but relies instead on telling people how lousy Mike Huckabee is. It goes beyond commercials, too, now that I think of it — when I see clips of him doing interviews or whatever, he’s always telling people how bad the other candidates are, smiling in a friendly fashion the whole time. I dislike that. He’s sneaky, and comes across as a back-stabber.
The other front runner on the Republican side, Mike Huckabee has also disappointed me. I want to like Huckabee, I really do, but I can’t. He has a lot of good qualities — the willpower to lose a lot of weight, he plays bass, he’s affable… But affability only gets you so far, unfortunately.
A few days ago, Huckabee called a press conference to announce that he’s NOT running an attack ad. He told everyone there that they had made a commercial attacking Mitt Romney, but upon further consideration he decided to take the high moral road and not air the ad. He then proceeded to play it for the press. The ad made its way onto the Internet, from what I’ve heard, and has been viewed a zillion times. I find this to be deplorable — if you’re moral enough to stay away from attack ads, why did you make one? And if you want to show the world how moral you are by not airing the ad, why did you show it? To me this is a BIG indicator of how Huckabee would operate as president — skirting legalities and wandering on the edge of morality, waving the Christian banner the whole time so no one can question him.
Another Huckabee blunder, in my mind, was his appearance on a late night talk show. He crossed the picket lines, ignoring the working class simply so he can put himself in the limelight. He very much showed that he will ignore other people’s plights in his pursuit of power.
I like Joe Biden. He’s stayed away from the foot-in-mouth disease that plagued him for so long early in the campaign. But I really haven’t heard much from him at all lately. I keep forgetting he’s in the race, to be honest, but I did see one of his commercials on TV the other day. He looked taller on TV than he did in person.
Poor Hillary Clinton. She’s inherited baggage. In my opinion, she’s too divisive for the country’s well-being. I foam at the mouth and start gagging and making strangled retching noises when people mention George Bush’s name. I can’t help it. It’s a reflex. Unfortunately, many people have the same reaction to Clinton. I think she has some good ideas, I think the country is ready for a female president, and I think she’s capable of leading. I also think she’s exactly the wrong person to bring the country together right now, and that’s what we need — someone to bring us together, someone who can get us to stop foaming at the mouth and start working for the good of the country. And that’s the one thing I’m not sure Clinton can do.
I did see her two-minute speech last night on TV, and thought she did a fine job. She didn’t look cold or calculating, two traits people have hung on her from the beginning of her candidacy, but she didn’t really say anything of substance either.
Chris Dodd dated Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and hangs out with Paul Simon. I haven’t seen much about Dodd, to be honest. My gut feeling is that his platform is an amalgamation of all the democratic candidate’s platforms, which isn’t bad. He seems like a capable man who would be comfortable leading the nation.
John Edwards is the Dick Clark of politics — he’s going to look like he’s 32 until he retires. I supported Edwards early on, and I still back his platform. I’m impressed with his plans for education and the elimination of poverty. He seems to be very committed to the cause, and has some good ideas. I think he’d make a fine president, but I simply can’t get excited about him yet. If he’s the candidate, I’ll vote for him with no reservations. But I’m caucusing for someone else.
Who? I haven’t seen a single mailer, commercial, yard sign or staffer for Mr. Gravel. I have no idea what he stands for. I’m sure I can look it up, but…
I really hope some of Dennis Kucinich’s ideas get into the mainstream conversation. Unfortunately, he comes across as kinda kooky. Much like Fred Thompson, most of the attention is on his wife, not on his policies.
In the past few months I’ve seen a TON of negative e-mails come through my inbox. Most of them are either pictures of Clinton without makeup, or are making fun of Barak Obama’s name. To be honest, I thought we left that sort of thing on the grade school playground, but I guess not. If small-minded people want to make fun of someone’s name, that just shows their true colors, I guess.
I’ve only heard one honest criticism of Obama. “He’s inspirational, speaks well, and gets people fired up, but he never really says anything…” That’s true, I suppose, but it’s also true of most of the other candidates. I’ve also heard rumblings wondering whether he’s experienced enough to be president. Hard to tell.
I like Obama’s platform, and I like his energy. He seems to be honest about his past, and by all accounts is an ethical man. He’s my second choice in the caucus. I think he’d bring the country together…. But my first choice is…
Bill Richardson really seems to have a proven track record. He’s been a congressman, he’s been a Secretary of Energy, he’s been ambassador to the United Nations, he’s been a governor… I’m impressed by his qualifications, but I’m just as impressed that a Republican friend of mine in New Mexico says that Richardson would be good for the country. THAT’S the healing power we need!
He’s also a proven negotiator. He’s succeeded in getting hostages released from Hussein’s Iraq, getting deals in the Pacific Rim signed where others failed… He knows how to treat people with respect.
What really caught my eye about Richardson, though, are his ideas about our treatment of veterans. He’s proposing some VERY innovative programs, including a card that veterans can carry that will allow them treatment at ANY hospital in the United States rather than having to drive hundreds of miles to a V.A. hospital. I also like his idea of giving veterans a break on their income taxes when they re-enter civilian life, and giving veterans a 5% deduction on income taxes for life. If anyone deserves this, it’s the men and women who have volunteered to do the dirty work for us! Richardson has a bunch of other ideas as well.
I’ve heard Richardson speak (as well as many of the other candidates). He’s not the best speaker in the world, but certainly isn’t the worst. He’s not the most polished, but he’s not a lout either. He came across as a very open, honest person who truly wants to make a positive difference. Of all the candidates I’ve heard, the only ones who actually talked “nuts and bolts” were Vilsack (remember him?), Biden and Richardson. The rest spoke almost entirely in generalities, as if hoping not to confuse us with real, actual facts and numbers. But Richardson, when asked specific questions, gave specific answers.
I’m caucusing for Richardson. And that’s my opinion.