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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Experience is Primary

I’m an independent… that applies to both religion and politics. At some later point, perhaps I’ll share my views on religion. It’s primary season, so it seems more appropriate to address the issue of politics and current candidates.

Here are my impressions of the front runners:

Hillary Clinton
I admire her so much. She has a long record of political experience, and she earned those chops the hard way. Anyone who remembers her much embattled drive to secure health care reform during President Clinton’s first term knows that the Republicans, the Pharmaceutical industry and representatives for physicians made her run through the fire.

And the way she handled the whole scandal involving her husband? Wow… smart.

She is tested. She is experienced. She is respected. She can get the job done.

She is incredibly intelligent, well-informed and one smart cookie. Unfortunately, America is historically threatened by intelligent women – whether or not she can overcome that mindset and whether or not America is ready to grow up remains to be seen.

She’s also a mother. I think that may be one of her most compelling qualifications.

She’s also human. Very human, as demonstrated during the final day of the New Hampshire primary. When asked how she withstood the rigors of political life, she answered with a throat choked full of emotion and a slight quiver to her voice. It was a heartwarming moment. The iron lady let down her guard for a moment and reminded America that beneath the hardened political exterior there beats the heart of a very real person. If she’s smart, instead of focusing solely on political rhetoric, she will pause and remind us of that very real person.

She claims to have found her voice in New Hampshire.

I think the world of Hillary Clinton. If she wins the nomination, I will vote for her.

Barack Obama
What’s not to like? He’s well-spoken, charismatic, and highly likable. His ability to rally people is a real gift. He’s intelligent. But is he a smart cookie? Is he savvy?

I don’t trust him. Not completely. Not yet. It’s his lack of experience and exposure. Before he decided to run for President I can’t recall hearing about him much. I know what he stands for… but just what has he done?

It’s his endorsement by Oprah that is the most troubling. I have to question any politician who would think that is a good thing. There’s a reason Hillary doesn’t have Hollywood celebs stomping the campaign trail. Star power doesn’t cut it in politics. There’s a taint on such endorsements. Let’s call it desperation. Or misplaced ideals. To be taken in by such crap makes me question the man’s integrity.

He’s a bit of a smooth operator, very charming. I can see why so many are being seduced. Including Oprah.

But bottom line – he just hasn’t got the kind of experience that makes me think of him in presidential terms. Kind of like George W. But in a much different way.

Sending Obama to the White House at this point in his career would be like re-electing Jimmy Carter.

Jimmy Carter is an excellent diplomat, a real humanitarian, very intelligent and charming. However, he was not a good president. He simply lacked the political savvy to get things done. Circumstances frequently worked against him, but more due to his inexperience in the given areas than in light of the actual circumstances. Jimmy Carter needed more seasoning. So does Obama.

The fact that he doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge his lack of experience is troubling to me. I’m sure such an admission would be deemed a sign of weakness. But I have always been more drawn to those that acknowledge their faults, rather than bluster past them. I respect people who let others know they are aware of their Achilles heal.

I would vote for Obama eight years from now. He will be ready then.

Mitt Romney
What kind of name is Mitt? Personally, I don’t want a president named Mitt.

That aside, if Obama is smooth, Mitt is slick. Slick, as in icky. I keep thinking he is a cyborg or a robot. He reminds me a lot of some of the characters in “Artificial Intelligence: A.I”. The word plastic keeps coming to mind.

Mitt is a political pro. We don’t need one of those to serve as president. Not now. He’s old school, but not in a comforting way.

He has experience. He is well spoken. But like a big fluffy pastry that looks incredible all dressed up with frosting and sprinkles – there really isn’t much substance here. Just a lot of empty calories. America needs something more fulfilling. Hence, not a lot to be excited about here. Just the same old, same old. Business as usual.

John McCain
Eight years ago, I thought – wow – what a firecracker. The fire has died down a little. But I still like him. I don’t agree with all of his views. He is dead wrong about Iraq. So he may be dead wrong for America at this juncture. I like him. He is plain spoken and very authoritative. But he has a lot of blind spots. And, I suspect, a big stubborn streak. Pass.

John Edwards
He is the Mitt Romney of the Democrats. Just as likable. Just as slick. He is a political pro with lots of experience. Business as usual. I liked him better as a possible V.P. Maybe that is his strategy this time, too. Like a romantic comedy where everybody is pretty and attractive, has great teeth, a fantastic apartment, and an exciting career… he plays well – looks good on paper. But I’m not buying. I like reality. Reality has flaws. Pass.

If he plans to run the country the way he has run his campaign - this country would be in some serious trouble. He was once the front runner. Once. But the thing with races is - everybody needs to start the race at the same time: like say, in Iowa and New Hampshire. Otherwise - it's not a race. What was he thinking? I don't think his campaign strategy is going to work out well for him. If he was president, I don't think it would work out well for anybody.

The man has played the 911 card way too often and for far too long. I didn't think the role he played at the time was very significant. Now, it just seems like old news. Like a politician pointing to his service record (although, that actually demonstrates character), it really isn't indicative of anything. Other than make some money off of the heartbreaking incident of 911 - via his business ventures and constant personal appearances talking about it - I don't feel he had that big of a role in the healing of the nation. I don't think any politician did. I simply don't find this to be a particularly strong issue to build a campaign or a presidency on. Anyone who does, lacks the savvy needed for the position.

Personally? I hate what he did to New York. He neutered it. That aside - he just doesn't have the qualifications, the vision, the imagination, or the personality traits that make for a good leader, let alone a good president.

Sorry, Giuli. I'm not taking you to the prom. Ever.

Really? Wow. Creationism? In the White House? Really? Wow. Would make a great National Lampoon film. Or a horror movie. Depends on your take.

I think - Scary, Mary. Real scary.

I don’t “heart” Huckabee.

I like the separation of church and state. Unless he’s for taxing churches. If he is, I’ll reconsider.

(No, I won’t. I don’t want a President who has a gift registry at Walmart.)

Please stay home. Don’t run. Retire. Be quiet. Go away. You have lost all semblance of common sense. You stopped paying attention to the world about 10 years ago. You and your supporters need a major reality enema, dude. Wake up. Or go to sleep. Just don’t run.

The rest…
Ummm…. Fill in the blank. Not much to say. I don’t think the American people are much interested either.

Bottom Line
If Hillary doesn’t win the nomination – I would probably vote for a Republican candidate. However… there isn’t a Republican candidate worthy of the ballot.

This is a race between Hillary and Obama.

But in a sane world… where Oprah doesn’t rule the world… it wouldn’t be.

I would like to see someone who has actually given birth and raised a child and withstood some really trying events to sit in the Oval Office. Someone with political and life experience and a heart. Someone with common sense. That is the change I would like to see for America.

And, really? Isn’t it time?