Friday, February 01, 2008

Stream of Consciousness on Presidential Politics 

Neither of the two leading Republican candidates get my pulse rate up, but at my age (62) perhaps it’d be impossible for any candidate to do so. (Too much experience – the Who’s “Don’t Get Fooled Again,” etc.) That said, I think I could live with either one in the White House. I think both of the Democrat candidates would be bad for the country for policy reasons, and in particular electing Clinton would be a disaster because I think the Clintons don’t care about anything but themselves.

Both men are flawed from my point of view. Romney seems to be a chameleon and leans whichever way the wind is blowing. He was liberalish as governor of Mass. and now is campaigning as the true conservative in the race. McCain has the McCain-Feingold albatross (which I believe violates the First Amendment right of free speech, notwithstanding the Supreme Court), plus his too-accepting attitude towards illegal immigration. That said, I believe neither is a crook who’ll sell White House access for contributions as Slick Willie did, and that both of them are patriots in the sense that they really believe that as President they can do things that are beneficial for the Nation. Both bring positives to the table. Romney is a proven executive who can get things done in environments that are not necessarily friendly to his views, both in the private and public sectors. He also seems to have a much better handle on economics and finance. McCain is pro-defense and anti-pork. Of the two, I think McCain is more likely to win in November because the Nation’s electorate, by which I mean the swing voters in the middle, are a little bit left of center socially and McCain fits better with their way of thinking.

On the democrat side, I think electing Billary will be downright dangerous for the country, because of their self-centeredness and apparent willingness to do anything to advance their own interests. Moreover, I think electing the Clintons would violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution (the term limit one). I have no idea what Hillary would actually do as President, except with regard to judicial appointments. She would appoint judges who think of themselves as super-legislators with a mission to correct the mistakes that Congress and the states have made, as they see it. As for the rest of her “record” the only constant is that she has always done what she perceives to be best for Billary. I don’t even know if we would have a reprise of the Bill Clinton era, because I’m not at all sure that Hillary, once she’s elected in her own right, wouldn’t throw Bill over the side. Unlike the Republicans (and probably Obama) I think the Clintons are not in politics because they think the country would benefit from their policies. Rather, I think they’re in it strictly for power and personal aggrandizement.

I think one of the biggest disservices Bill Clinton did for (or is it to?) the country was to get the public used to seeing the President as Entertainer-in-Chief. (I was making that point to my daughter a couple weeks ago and that same evening Laura Ingraham used the same term on the O’Reilly Factor. I won’t claim originality, but I sure didn’t steal it from her.) I think his antics seriously diminished the office of the Presidency and as a result a large part of the public doesn’t regard Presidential elections with the sense of gravity that they deserve. Instead, too many people regard the elections as a popularity contest, similar to a referendum on who would replace Jay Leno or David Letterman as a late-night TV host. In a way it’s a pity that his presidency didn’t confront any serious challenges – the Cold War was over and the terrorist threat was still far away, and the economy was going great guns, after the Republicans took Congress. If there had been some sort of crisis during his term, I think the public perception of Clinton would be very different, for better or worse.

Obama is, as far as I can see, a relatively uncorrupt politician with a conventionally liberal/progressive track record, as far as it goes. I don’t think he’s ready for prime time, but as between him and Billary, I’ll take Obama. For all his lack of experience and track record, I think Obama is smart enough to surround himself with serious thinkers, even though they might be of the far left persuasion, and I don’t think he’s in the race merely for his own power and glory. As I have said before, he might very well be Presidential timber, but he definitely needs more seasoning. I think it’s a disadvantage for a politician seeking high office never to have experienced failure, because such a person has an inflated sense of his own abilities.

I registered as “no pref” a year or so ago, because I had become disgusted at the stupidity being demonstrated by the Republicans in Congress, and no longer considered them worthy of my loyalty. Living in California, as a “no pref” I am not eligible to vote in the Republican primary next week, but I am eligible to vote in the Dem primary. So, I plan to do just that, and vote for Obama because I feel I must do what I can to prevent the Clintons from going back to the White House.

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