…To see ourselves as others see us

by

Having just spent a little time in Ireland, I found it very interesting to come across an article in last Sunday’s Washington Post about Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign written by a British journalist. Unlike most of the pundits here, on both sides, who analyze every nuance of the current primary candidates’ campaigns in terms of everything from policy positions to campaign style to finances, and who knows what else, this British guy suggests that many in what he terms “other advanced democracies” see her candidacy more in terms of qualifications (or lack of them) nepotism, and dynasty building. He also wonders out loud why the American public seems to have little or no concern about these things. I’m not a Hillary fan, but this isn’t really intended as a political post. I just thought it was interesting to get a view from somebody outside the current American political madhouse.

Hillary is certainly singled out for this guy’s scrutiny because of her unique situation – the 1st First Lady to run for president as well as the first serious female candidate – and he does discuss several female politicians who have had impressive careers like Margret Thacher and Goldia Meir, probably to show that he’s not just a male chauvinist pig. I Just wondered what the group might think about this Brit’s view of our election process.

Since I’m not sure I can link to the article, I’ve included some selected bits below. There is at least a page more. If you can get to the Washington Post web site, it was in last Sunday’s (October 7th) edition. Sorry in advance that it made for such a long post.

Who Made Hillary Queen?By Geoffrey Wheatcroft Sunday, October 7, 2007; Page B01

Among so much about American politics that can impress or depress a friendly transatlantic observer, there’s nothing more astonishing than this: Why on Earth should Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton be the front-runner for the presidency?

She has now pulled well ahead of Sen. Barack Obama, both in polls and in fundraising. If the Democrats can’t win next year, they should give up for good, so she must be considered the clear favorite for the White House. But in all seriousness: What has she ever done to deserve this eminence? How could a country that prides itself on its spirit of equality and opportunity possibly be led by someone whose ascent owes more to her marriage than to her merits?

We all, nations as well as individuals, have difficulty seeing ourselves as others see us. In this case, I doubt that Americans realize how extraordinary their country appears from the outside. In Europe, the supposed home of class privilege and heritable status, we have abandoned the hereditary principle (apart from the rather useful institution of constitutional monarchy), and the days are gone when Pitt the Elder was prime minister and then Pitt the Younger. But Americans find nothing untoward in Bush the Elder being followed by Bush the Younger.

At a time when Americans seem to contemplate with equanimity up to 28 solid years of uninterrupted Bush-Clinton rule, please note that there are almost no political dynasties left in British politics, at least on the Tory side. Admittedly, Hilary Benn, the environmental secretary, is the fourth generation of his family to sit in Parliament and the third to serve in a Labor party cabinet. But England otherwise has nothing now to match the noble houses of Kennedy, Gore and Bush.

… And in no other advanced democracy today could someone with Clinton’s resume even be considered a candidate for national leadership.

What a contrast Hillary Clinton presents! Everyone recognizes the nepotism or favoritism she has enjoyed: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has written that without her marriage, Clinton might be a candidate for president of Vassar, but not of the United States. And yet the truly astonishing nature of her career still doesn’t seem to have impinged on Americans.

All in all, “Democracy in America,” not to mention equality or feminism in America, can sometimes look very odd from the outside. We’ve seen Jean Kennedy Smith made ambassador to to Dublin (and a disastrous one) because she was famous for being a sister, then Pamela Digby Harriman made ambassador to Paris (and rather a good one) because she was famous for being a socialite. Now Hillary Rodham Clinton has become a potential president because she is famous for being a wife (and a wronged wife at that). Europe has long since accepted the great 19th-century liberal principle of “the career open to the talents.” In the 21st century, isn’t it time that the republic founded on the proposition that all men are created equal — and women, too, one hopes — also caught up with it?

________________________

And finally, a trivia question:

If Hillary wins the nomination and the 2008 election, she will, of course, be the first woman and the first former First Lady to do so, but she will also be only the third sitting Senator to be elected president. Who were the other two?

Advertisements

27 Responses to “…To see ourselves as others see us”

  1. michaellasley Says:

    I really haven’t spent much time looking at the particulars of any presidential candidate yet. However, it doesn’t seem that Hillary is a completely unqualified candidate who is running for office simply because of her married name and some money. She was a successful lawyer, apparently. She has at least some experience in a national office. Her marriage to Clinton might have helped open some doors for her, but it seems she’s worked pretty hard to make herself qualified.

    So I don’t think it’s fair to say that she’s only being considered because of her last name.

    I do think he has a good point about the seemingly questionable voting practices we have here in America. We do seem to feel safe with a familiar name in office. I’m not sure why this is the case, since we often seem so displeased with our government. But it is odd.

    Good to hear what other countries think. We too often seem to disregard the views of outsiders. I don’t think we should let their views determine our decisions, but it can serve as a good reminder that we are sometimes too close to a situation to see it clearly.

    I have no idea about your trivia question. I thought about cheating and looking it up, but I’m playing fair.

  2. babykangaroo Says:

    I only know one off the top of my head. JFK

  3. captmidknight Says:

    Michael said:
    I really haven’t spent much time looking at the particulars of any presidential candidate yet. However, it doesn’t seem that Hillary is a completely unqualified candidate who is running for office simply because of her married name and some money. She was a successful lawyer, apparently. She has at least some experience in a national office. Her marriage to Clinton might have helped open some doors for her, but it seems she’s worked pretty hard to make herself qualified.

    As to qualifications, I tend to agree with you. We’ve certainly had other presidential candidates – and even the occasional one who got elected – whose resume and actually, real world experience was considerably less that Ms. Clinton’s. I’m sure that her name and status as a former 1st lady got her this fellow’s attention.

    IMHO, the mainstream press in this country is pretty predictably bias to the left, politically, but the British press can be downright vicious when they get any sense of blood in the water, be it with political figures – left or right – or celebrities or The Royals or whoever. As I said, I’m not a Hillary fan, but I can see something similar happening to any of the other candidates if they become high profile enough. The post wasn’t intended as a knock on Hillary, but as an example of how Americans in general, and our political system in particular sometimes looks to foreigners. To be fair, a lot of other country’s political systems seem just as baffling and illogical to us (sort of like watching a Cricket match) and they would probably take offense if we said so – especially in a major newspaper.

    As for the trivia question, I figured out one of the Senators myself, but I had to cheat and Google the other one.

  4. captmidknight Says:

    ‘Roo got the easy one.
    Hint:
    The other one was 20th Centruy also.

  5. captmidknight Says:

    Michael said:
    I have no idea about your trivia question. I thought about cheating and looking it up, but I’m playing fair.

    I appreciate your “Fair Play” ethic, but someone recently sent me some military “Rules of Engagement,” and one of them was:

    “If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!”

    As the election gets closer, we might see some of the candidates taking that to heart. The fun may be just starting.

  6. babykangaroo Says:

    “If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!”

    Isn’t this a Bill Belichik quote?

    Warren G. Harding

    How many Veeps were sitting senators when elected? Gore and LBJ come to mind quickly.

  7. dejon05 Says:

    Good stuff, Captain. I had a unique opportunity to get an insiders look at some of the news rooms in London (i.e. The Guardian, Sky News, BBC 24, ITN, APTN, et al.) The differences in our mediated news systems were really fascinating.

    Capt said: the mainstream press in this country is pretty predictably bias to the left, politically,

    I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the past year and a half looking at the academic research relating to critical media studies, and of course there are a seemingly endless number of “biased media” hypotheses.

    Most of what researchers have found stems not from the political leanings of the media, but from the leanings of the viewer. The partisans believe that the media are biased against their view (Hostile Media Effect), and the non-partisans see too much diversity in media to label them with any particular leaning.

    You can certainly point out plenty of left leaning journalists, but a good journalist’s own opinions should be transparent to the viewer. And it is a widely-accepted claim within the realm of journalism studies that the most unabashedly biased, as well as the most influential American media agency is FOX news. (And IMO, a greater bastion of yellow-journalism the world has never seen.)

    Point being, its probably obvious I take issue with your assertion that the MSM leans left. I see it as more balanced with FOX skewing the audiences’ exposure to the right. I believe it all boils down to perspective. One person looks at the Tower of Pisa and sees it leaning to the left. A person looking at it on the opposite side sees it leaning to the right.

    ________________

    And as a quick aside. If we’re going to discuss a needed fear of nepotism in the highest echelons of our federal gov’t, wouldn’t the Bush Dynasty with their multiple generations of politicians (not to mention track record of out-and-out cronyism… Think Harriet Miers) be of greater concern than Mr. and Mrs. Clinton?

  8. captmidknight Says:

    ‘Roo wrote:

    “If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck!”
    Isn’t this a Bill Belichik quote?
    Warren G. Harding
    How many Veeps were sitting senators when elected? Gore and LBJ come to mind quickly.
    ______

    A Pats fan maybe? Or maybe not.

    Harding is correct. Although considered one of the least successful presidents, he may have been one of the most honest. He is actually credited with the following quote about his administration: “I am not fit for this office and never should have been here.”
    How refreshing.
    Something for Hillary to consider, though – both of the previous senators who won the presidency died in office before completing their first term.

    As for Senators elected as Veeps, there were several. A quick check turned up a total of eight just in the 20th century – including Gore and LBJ. A lot of Senators have run for both offices, but their winning percentage isn’t too good. Seems that I read that governors have the best success rate. All that is interesting, but probably tells us little or nothing about how the current race will turn out.

  9. urbino Says:

    Wheatcroft’s whole argument seems disingenuous to me. The role of fame — deserved or not — in American politics is not exactly new, and Wheatcroft, as an experienced political reporter, knows that. Nonetheless this seems to be a not uncommon take on Hillary’s candidacy, so I’ll take a closer look at it.

    I’m not at all a Hillary supporter, but of all the things to be famous for, having been a highly involved First Lady for 8 yrs. (and a highly involved First Lady of a state for decades before that) strikes me as rather more relevant to holding office than most kinds of fame.

    Jim Bunning and Steve Largent got elected because they were famous as athletes. Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger got elected because they were famous as beefcake. (I’m not trying to pick Republican examples, btw; those are just the names that came to mind. Actually, I think Ventura was an Independent, anyway.) George W. Bush and Jeb Bush were famous for being George H.W. Bush’s sons (who was famous for being his father’s son). Neither of them spent any time in the White House during Bush 41, so, unlike Hillary, they had no exposure to policymaking at all; they certainly didn’t participate in it.

    Simply as a matter of qualification, I don’t see any reason to call Hillary’s time as First Lady particularly irrelevant. (The same would not have been true of, say, Lady Bird Johnson or Jackie Kennedy, though it probably would have been of Eleanor Roosevelt.)

    So, while I’m not a Hillary supporter, I have to say that, of all the things one can criticize her for, claiming she’s unqualified is completely baffling. She’s as qualified as most of the field in either party, and a good deal more qualified than a lot of presidents were.

    Now, whether or not political dynasties are healthy for the American republic, that’s a different issue. I’m not crazy about them, but we’ve always kind of had them. (And, again, somebody like Wheatcroft must know this, already.)

    Is Hillary in the lead partly because of sheer name recognition from having been First Lady for 8 yrs.? Certainly. Is she in the lead partly because she has a lot of helpful political and financial connections from having been First Lady and Mrs. Bill Clinton? Definitely. Is that ideal? No. But what ever is, and what’s new about that?

    All in all, while I do share the author’s concerns about political “dynasties” and whatnot, it seems a bit . . . let’s say odd . . . to be complaining about the problem now, as though this is a first. The only thing new about this instance is that the advantages come from having been a First Lady; which is to say, a woman.

    ISTM there are much better reasons to object to Hillary becoming president, especially at this particular moment in our history.

  10. captmidknight Says:

    JU
    I agree with most – maybe all – of what you say. I’m certainly not an apologist for the British journalist who wrote the piece. It’s the general state of the British tabloid press today that, if you don’t draw blood, you don’t get noticed, so that, along with a bit of normal Brit snobbery may explain it. Hillary may be many things, but she’s surely as qualified for the job as most of her opponents on either side – and more so than some of the mental and moral giants we’ve had as candidates in the past.

    As for the press, you’re right. As it happens, I’ve actually seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa and as you say, it does lean different ways depending on where your standing.

    I can’t remember the last time I watched the major network news at 6:00pm. Fox News is usually on at my house, but I don’t watch it all day like some do. I generally like their take on things, but do I believe that it’s “Fair and Balanced? Oh please! Fox vs CNN or MSNBC is a little like Patton vs Montgomery. Patton once said “Hell, we’re both prima donnas. What I don’t like about Monty is that he won’t admit it.”

    OTOH, I usually listen to NPR in my truck (which my wife thinks is a pinko communist organization) so I’m not totally brainwashed.

    Got to go. Don’t want to miss Bill O’Reilly’s latest shout fest.

    Just kidding.

  11. Whitney Says:

    I had the same reaction as JU re: Hilary’s experience & therefore presidential quals. Seems to me she is as experienced as many of our past presidents and maybe moreso than some of her contenders. And I am not a Hilary supporter, either. But do I think she is running based on fame vice legitimate experience? No.

    —-

    I don’t believe any journalists are unbiased, just like no matter how hard we try to be objective about some issues, our feelings still seep into conversations. Dejon, you sound like a true Master. 🙂 I bet you sit at the Mont discussing this stuff afterhours, don’t you? You can tell the truth. (Ours was O’Connell’s and statistics conversations, so you’d be less nerdy than the psych crowd.) Anyway, interesting research you describe. Is this your thesis?

    Cap’n, good post. How was the Ireland trip overall? I am tremendously jealous.

  12. captmidknight Says:

    Whitney said:
    How was the Ireland trip overall? I am tremendously jealous.
    ______

    It should take a lot to provoke jealously in someone who can open their window and see Oahu anytime they want, but Ireland just might do it.
    We had a great trip – nobody got sick or hurt, the weather was fabulous, the island was indeed Emerald, and, believe it or not, we had tail winds both ways – which is a lot more than I can say for our trip to the Middle East back in May.
    I played butler to my wife and mother-in-law and came back none the worse for wear, except for a borderline sinful fondness for Irish Coffee. The only downside was that the US dollar’s exchange rate is in the toilet, so, instead of finding a pot of gold, I managed to leave quite a lot, especially in the vicinity of the Waterford Crystal factory, but I’m sure you can understand that.
    All in all, a great place to visit.

  13. urbino Says:

    Sounds like a great trip, Cap’n. And while I can look out my window on Shelby Farms park, it’s just not the same as Ireland, green though it is. (And ripe, this evening. Some kind of livestock show, apparently.)

    I just wanted to chime in on the MSM bias issue. As an avowed and self-aware liberal, I have to say I don’t hear much from them that sounds liberal to me. If anything, they sound conservative most of the time. I think particularly of people like Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer. (One needn’t even mention the Joe Scarborough’s and Tucker Carlson’s and Glen Beck’s.) Keith Ohlbermann’s show is the only place I’ve ever heard a particularly liberal take on things.

    More than liberal or conservative, I’m beginning to think the MSM just parrot whatever the current Beltway cocktail circuit group-think is.

    As for Hillary and the MSM, I expect it will be ugly if she gets the nomination, and brutal if she wins the office. They seem to unabashedly, intensely dislike her on a very personal level. (And, again, that’s not the viewpoint of a Hillary supporter. Of the top 3 Dems, she comes in a distant 3rd in my book.)

  14. dejon05 Says:

    Whit, great things that are better together:
    – The Mont’s swirls
    – The Mont’s queso
    – The Mont’s patio
    – Barstool philosophy
    Now that’s good joo joo.

    BTW: O’Connell’s moves to campus corner soon (across the street from Louise’s.) Much larger place, much more convenient. You should come see all the changes.

  15. urbino Says:

    On second thought, maybe I’m a Hillary fan.

  16. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    Sounds like a great trip, Cap’n. And while I can look out my window on Shelby Farms park, it’s just not the same as Ireland, green though it is. (And ripe, this evening. Some kind of livestock show, apparently.)
    And:
    They seem to unabashedly, and intensely dislike her on a very personal level.
    _____

    I know Shelby Farms well, having lived in the Memphis area for 25 years, and you’re right. Ireland it’s not. I have 2 kids and 3 and 8/9ths grandkids living a couple of miles south in G’town.

    As for the level of personal dislike for Hillary from the press and elsewhere, that has always been her problem. Leave aside political issues, she has just never seemed to be able to come across as genuinely likable. Bill was just the opposite. He had “good old boy” and “little boy lost” down to a science. Think what you want about “Der Slickmiester,” he was – and still is – able to win people’s sympathy and affection – and he could sell ice in Greenland. No matter what scandals or accusations came along, most folks seemed to be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He’s a truly masterful politician who lives for the limelight. If he could have run for a third term, he would have done it in a heart beat – and eaten George Bush alive in 2000.

    The best explanation for Bill’s personality and peccadilloes I ever read was a book called “The Dysfunctional President,” written by a therapist who treats adult children of alcoholic parents. He claimed that Bill was a textbook example. I’ve always thought Bill was in it more for the ego trip while Hillary was the more serious, hard liner. That’s why she will be so hard to beat. Bill liked to party, but Hillary is on a mission. I think she has known what she wanted for a long time and has no intention of losing it now that she’s so close. Think what you will about her policies, this is one formidable lady. You cross her at your peril. Just ask Bill.

    If Hillary has a weak spot, it’s probably in her “high negatives.” There are a lot of folks, even in the Democratic Party, that wouldn’t shed any tears if she got beat, but you’ll never hear it from them. The Clintons have too much power within the party – and they’re not afraid to use it.

  17. urbino Says:

    Actually, you hear/read anti-Hillary statements from people in the Democratic Party all the time. Glance at any of the liberal blogs. (Actually, I’m not sure if you’re talking about party members, or party officials. Since the latter obviously aren’t going to speak ill of any Dem candidates, I assume you mean the former.)

    As for Bill, I’ll agree that he was very personable, and used that effectively. Clearly, he also likes attention. And I’ll agree that being the child of an alcoholic probably accounts for a lot of his behavior. But the man was — is — also blindingly intelligent; by all accounts (without regard to party), one of the 3 or 4 most intelligent men ever to hold the office.

    There was juuuuust a bit more to him than “good old boy” or “little boy lost” and a slick sales pitch.

    I’m not sure I agree Hillary is more mission-oriented than Bill. I think they have/had different missions. Her mission is to have power; his was/is to accomplish specific policy goals. He would triangulate tactically on policy, but the ultimate policy goal was always consistent. Hillary triangulates strategically; she will jettison policy goals to get or maintain power. For him, power was a means; for her, it is an end. The only end.

    In that regard, if no other, Newt Gingrich is Bill’s GOP equivalent. Hillary’s is Giuliani.

  18. Whitney Says:

    Dej: MMMMM, the Mont. They had kickin’ nachos, too. With swirls. 🙂 We spent a lot of time in that really big circular booth type room in the back–talking philosophy of course, and thinking we were freaking brilliant.

    I REALLY need to come to Norman. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll make it back that-a-way during your tenure.

    Everyone else: sorry for the reminiscing with Dejon and offering nothing to the rest of the conversation.

  19. captmidknight Says:

    JU:
    I didn’t mean to imply that Bill was JUST a slick salesman, and maybe it’s the fact that he and I both grew up in Arkansas in the 50s and 60s that makes me more sensitive to the “I feel your pain”side of his political skills. He had the ability and the personality to convince a lot of people to give him the benefit of the doubt and suspend disbelief better than any other politician I can think of, and it got him through incidents that would have – and did – destroy the careers of most others in his situations.

    Of course, he was and is an exceedingly intelligent man who has pursued his goal probably since he got to shake hands with JFK at Boys Nation. Part of that intelligence is recognizing his “people skills” mentioned above and using them to great advantage. In our history, we’ve had a number of brilliant, deeply flawed men in leadership positions – Thomas Jefferson comes to mind. Whether they were any better or worse than the much larger group of mediocre, deeply flawed men we’ve had, I couldn’t say. Also, Bill’s acting skills are at least on a par with Reagan’s. He and Hillary both realize – as do most other politicians – that image is often more important than substance.

    One thing Bill and Hillary do share – IMHO – is the abiding belief that the country desperately NEEDS them and their superior skills and philosophy to save the “huddled masses” from themselves. This, I think, comes from their formative years in the ‘60s. In short, I see Bill and Hillary as, in their own way, just as much “True Believers” as many on the religious right.

    Interesting that you should see Newt Gingrich as Bill’s GOP equivalent. I think you’re probably right. Newt is also a very intelligent man and a “policy wonk,” but he isn’t nearly as likeable or skillful as Bill in the personality and acting department. I can still Bill shaking his finger at the camera as he said “I did not have sex with that woman.” You’ve got to hand it to the guy. He’s got so much faith in his ability to weather any crisis that when it comes to his personal behavior vs his public image, he’s not afraid to work without a net. BTW, I have heard lately that Newt is considering entering the race, but I can’t see him having a chance.

    Whether any of what I’ve said is true or not, one thing is certain, baring some tragic incident, we will not see the last of either Bill or Hillary for a long time – for good or ill.

    Not sure I understand the Hillary/Giuliani comparison. Maybe I don’t know enough about Rudy.

  20. urbino Says:

    Newt announced a couple weeks ago that he has decided not to run. It was weird, actually. One day he puts up an announcement on his website, saying if he can get $30 million in donations, he’ll run. Literally the next day, he announces he definitely isn’t running.

    I think Newt actually has done a rather remarkable acting job. He convinced millions of “values voters” he was one of them, despite his sordid marital life, which is every bit the rival of Bill’s. Of course, Newt’s didn’t get the press coverage Bill’s did, so maybe he didn’t need to be as good an actor.

    As for Bill and Hillary’s sense that the country needs them, ISTM that’s more rule than exception among politicians. Particularly those who run for president.

    Hillary and Rudy are equals in pursuing power for power’s sake, and being unscrupulous in the pursuit.

    He had the ability and the personality to convince a lot of people to give him the benefit of the doubt and suspend disbelief better than any other politician I can think of

    I dunno. I can think of one who appears to be at least as good.

  21. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    As for Bill and Hillary’s sense that the country needs them, ISTM that’s more rule than exception among politicians. Particularly those who run for president.
    ___
    I’m sure you’re right about that. Maybe it comes from growing up during the same times as they did, but, to me, their attitude has a definite ‘60s radical, “Baby Boomer” feel to it. Maybe it’s just me.
    ___
    And:
    He had the ability and the personality to convince a lot of people to give him the benefit of the doubt and suspend disbelief better than any other politician I can think of
    I dunno. I can think of one who appears to be at least as good.
    ___
    Dare I ask?

  22. urbino Says:

    The current man.

  23. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    The current man.
    ____

    Maybe so, but he sure hasn’t gotten any slack recently.

    My personal theory about “Dubya” is that he actually has a superior Ivy League educated mind which he cunningly disguises with possibly the worst Texas drawl since Lyndon Johnson along with a chronic disability with English as a spoken language.

    But I could be wrong.

  24. urbino Says:

    Maybe so, but he sure hasn’t gotten any slack recently.

    It seems probable that we have different definitions of “slack.” From over here, it looks for all the world like he has gotten and is still getting a tremendous amount of slack from both Congress and the press, on virtually every major issue at hand.

    Regardless, GWB clearly does have an extraordinary ability “to convince a lot of people to give him the benefit of the doubt and suspend disbelief.”

    I can find no other way to account for the views of 25-30% of our population, since such views simply cannot be logically derived from any available empirical data. On the data, he has become the worst president in American history. It’s not even a contest. The other leading contenders for the title, in my estimation, are Nixon, Grant, and Jackson (and possibly Johnson, whose presidency is hard for me to grade because it was all peaks and valleys). Pres. Bush has both combined and one-upped the worst aspects of all of them.

    I don’t say that as a partisan or someone who hates the man on a personal level. I still think he means well. He’s just unbelievably, unprecedentedly bad at the job.

  25. captmidknight Says:

    JU:

    I know that hope springs eternal, but if you’re waiting for a large percentage of the electorate – left or right – to base their opinions or their votes on “available empirical data,” I’m afraid you’re in for a long wait. Reminds me of quote from a frustrated Winston Churchill:

    “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

    To me, Winston was a little too pessimistic. We have, after all, managed to muddle through the last 219 years or so and survived a great many leaders, good, bad, and indifferent. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee anything for the future, but it makes me hopeful, at least.

  26. urbino Says:

    Yeah, Winnie was always good for an aphorism. Speaking of . . . Wheatcroft says political dynasties are all but unknown in the UK anymore; however, it’s not that long ago that Churchill’s grandson lost his seat in Parliament.

    It doesn’t seem to me I’m expecting any more from current voters than you were from ’90s voters. You seem to feel Clinton got people to vote for him despite the empirical reality. I see the same in Bush. Perhaps we both expect too much.

  27. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    It doesn’t seem to me I’m expecting any more from current voters than you were from ’90s voters. You seem to feel Clinton got people to vote for him despite the empirical reality. I see the same in Bush. Perhaps we both expect too much.
    _____
    History and experience tells us that you’re probably right – we are both expecting too much.

    Every successful politician relies, in addition to their political skills and policy positions, on a little bit of just plain luck somewhere along the line. Clinton in ‘92 was a good example. On paper, Bush 41 had probably the strongest resume of government service of any presidential candidate in modern times – plus being the incumbent. Along comes this young, charismatic governor of a hick southern state who, in spite of a scandal early in his campaign which was splashed across network TV, survived and even prospered against the odds, and you have a classic underdog, which most folks love. The luck came in the form of a slightly looney and paranoid billionaire named Ross Parot. I still think Rush Limbaugh’s description of Parot was the best I’ve ever heard. Rush said that he looked … “like a hand grenade with a bad haircut,” and immediately started running a parody song by a guy from Memphis called “They’re coming to take me away!”
    Clinton, like any good politician would, took full advantage of the third party windfall plus Bush 41’s weakness, including having gone back on his “No New Taxes” pledge, and won with 43% of the vote. Parot was back in ‘96 and Clinton again got less that 50%, but he would probably have beaten Dole straight up anyway.

    On the Bush side, the fiasco of the 2000 election was a little like ‘92 in reverse. A sitting Vice President from a popular administration with a strong resume in national politics – but with the charisma of a house plant – against a folksy governor from a large, but mostly redneck state. On paper, it shouldn’t have been close, but then we got to Florida.

    If it hadn’t had such national and, looking back on it, international implications, the circus would have been fun to watch. The Democrats, whose candidate was behind, were forced to argue that their own party, who controlled several of the county election commissions in the disputed districts, had screwed up the ballot design so badly that it constituted such a threat to the rights of many voters that the state laws which, years before, had set the conditions and deadlines for the mandatory recount had to be ignored. The Republican team, of course, argued the opposite. Through it all, I never got over the feeling that, if it had been Gore that was leading by 500 votes, the same teams of lawyers could have argued the opposite view just as passionately – the Republicans arguing to set aside the state laws and the Democrats arguing for strict enforcement.

    Even though it’s often depressing, you’ve got to agree that watching our election process and our candidates in action is often better than a soap opera. Even Hollywood couldn’t make this stuff up.

    BTW, I’m surprised that someone hasn’t submitted a post about Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I would think that Global Warming would be – pardon the pun – a hot topic.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: