I Hate Politics, Part One

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I’m not sure whether there will be a part two, I just couldn’t figure out what to call this post.

So, I decided to watch the debates tonight. Maybe “watch” is too strong a term. I turned it on, dutifully paused it while I was finishing up dinner and putting the baby down, and paid attention to what the candidates were saying from time to time. Up to now, I had not watched a single one, nor had I been particularly keeping up with what’s been going on in the campaign because I find politics unbearably tiresome. (And can’t believe I ever used to find it interesting, frankly).

But in the interest of, you know, being a good citizen and all, I figured that I should at least try to become somewhat informed, especially now that I live in Virginia and my vote actually counts for something more than it did in the District.

Let me just say that the Republican debate was as scary as I had imagined it could be. And this on the heels of my decision that the lesson I was meant to learn from my experience at the Lucifer & Satan law firm is that just because someone shares your politics does not mean he or she is a good person, and that (am I really saying this?) it’s possible — I’m not saying likely, but possible — that not all Republicans have horns. But it’s hard to maintain that kind of optimism and faith in humanity when you’re faced with Mitt Romney’s greasy mug, oozing smarminess. I mean, first of all, no one named “Mitt” should be allowed to serve at any level of government, and I don’t care whether it’s a nickname or not. But this guy creeps me out beyond belief. Please, for the love of God, Republicans out there, don’t elect this guy. You can tell just by looking at him and listening to him that he has zero integrity.

But he’s in good company on that one.

John McCain? Warmonger. Bush ass-kisser. Wrong on all the issues. Looks like death warmed over. That last one isn’t relevant to his ability to be president, but I had to throw it in because I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine and I’m feeling kind of punchy.

Giuliani? Asshole. I mean, he just is. His second wife found out he was leaving her on the news. His own kids don’t like him. How anyone can get beyond that, I do not understand. And of course, he has totally changed his positions on “the issues” to ingratiate himself to the base. Gag.

Fred Thompson? Condescending prick. Plus I don’t trust any man who’s married to a woman young enough to be his daughter. Sorry, I gotta call ’em as I see ’em.

The only one of the bunch who talked anything resembling sense (as opposed to pure spin and the favored buzzwords, such as “Democrat” as an adjective, “socialized medicine,” and “tax and spend”) was Ron Paul, and the way the other candidates treat him — like a pesky younger brother — is beyond unacceptable. Which is not to say that he has sense, but he definitely does have his own principles and views that he is faithful to. I mentioned to David that people always say they want that, but those candidates never win elections.

That leaves us with Huckabee, who seems like the only one of the major candidates with the slightest bit of integrity. I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about him a few weeks ago, and it was interesting. I also felt kind of sorry for him because the writer ridiculed him for his pedestrian taste in food, among other things. He’s a hard-core evangelical, which is scary as hell, but he also says things from time to time that make sense and don’t sound all that far off. I disagree with him on a lot of issues, of course. But honestly, I’d feel much more comfortable with him than with any of the others. Maybe I’m wrong about him, but he seems sincere.

Okay, this has gotten long, so I’ll shut up now. Maybe in part two I can talk about the Democratic candidates. Because, you know, there ain’t a lot of love there either. As I said, I hate politics.

P.S.  The above does not, and should not be interpreted to, encapsulate the disagreements I have with the various Republican candidates.  I was mostly trying to entertain (myself, if no one else).

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24 Responses to “I Hate Politics, Part One”

  1. Terry A. Says:

    I missed the GOP fun, and caught most of the Democrats. (Where was the little guy from Michigan?) John Edwards reminds me of Gomer Pyle. That’s about all I can muster.

  2. alsturgeon Says:

    Here’s my take on the candidates:

    JACK DEL RIO: He carries himself well, though his demeanor carries a hint of arrogance. But although he’s as white bread as anyone, the whole “Del Rio” name does him in. I mean, America still doesn’t seem to want to elect a foreigner.

    HINES WARD: Energetic and fun, but just a little too “in your face.” Give him some time, and he’ll tick someone off. Just a scandal waiting to happen.

    DAVID GARRARD: Now here’s the real candidate. Mother died from breast cancer when he was 14, articulate, kind, etcetera, etcetera. Sort of that “feel good story” that America wants.

    BEN ROETHLISBERGER: I have to say that Big Ben’s waiting off to the side while Garrard was interviewed after the debate won him some impressive brownie points. But President Roethlisberger? Just doesn’t have a ring to it. And anyone nicknamed Big Ben – still that carry-over connection with England, and no matter what you say, we’re still ticked about the whole “taxation w/o representation” thing.

    So in the final analysis…

    Um.

    Oh. I was watching the NFL playoffs and not the presidential debate.

    Just ignore all this.

  3. urbino Says:

    You’ve watched one more debate than I have, Miranda. The things are pretty well designed to not provide any useful insight or information, so I just don’t bother.

    My general impressions of the candidates with a shot:

    McCain — Perhaps the least objectionable of the GOP candidates. On foreign policy he’s a disaster, but so is everyone else with a chance of winning his party’s nomination. At least he’s a pragmatist rather than an ideologue. He and Huckabee are the only ones to have found a respectable position on torture. Most important, he understands the proper constitutional role and limits of the executive branch.

    Huckabee — The second least objectionable, simply because he’s the only other one who doesn’t believe in a royal executive. Might be the least objectionable if he weren’t so utterly sophomoric when it comes to policy. We’re coming off of 8 yrs. of a president in over his head; I don’t think we can afford 4 or 8 more just now.

    Romney — Not sure what to say. He’s certainly eager to please. Unfortunately, as his responses to the Boston Globe’s survey on executive power indicate, that means he would be a disaster as president. OTOH, it’s perfectly plausible that if he wins the nomination, he’ll move quite far from his current positions in order to please the broader electorate of a general election. The fact that he is the anointed candidate of GOP establishment insiders is at once mystifying and telling.

    Giuliani — A man and a candidacy with no redeeming qualities. Combining the worst of Nixon with the worst of Cheney, he appeals baldly, directly, exclusively, and relentlessly to the very worst in people. What’s worrisome is that that can work awfully well. OTOH, his support seems to be tanking. There’s speculation he may not even make it past Florida.

    Clinton — Perhaps would be an okay president, but wouldn’t be a huge improvement. Her only real policy strength, to me, is healthcare, but I just don’t see her being able to deliver on that. Her foreign policy is saner than anything from the GOP, present or future, but still rather too conservative for my taste. Plus, the prospect of that whole Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton legacy thing is just off-putting.

    Obama — Clearly the most inspiring of all the candidates. However, policy-wise, he remains more of an unknown than any of the other candidates, too. That said, if I’m reading him right, he may have the biggest agenda of any candidate since Ronald Reagan. I think his goal, like Reagan’s, is to use the presidency to shift the entire debate in America; to change the nature of the discourse; to give us a different conception of ourselves as a nation than the one we’ve had for the past 20 years or so. How? By doing literally that — shifting the debate, changing the discourse, offering a different conception. The catchphrase for analysts of Reagan was “the medium is the message.” The catchphrase for Obama may be “the message is the agenda.” That is, his agenda isn’t primarily a legislative one, but a rhetorical/psychological/cultural one, in that order. From what I can tell, he figures that if he changes the way we think of ourselves and the way we talk, the legislation will follow. That’s all what I think he’s doing, but I’m not yet convinced. So I’m still watching, reserving judgment.

    Edwards — I’ll confess John Edwards just appeals to me. The rural white kid in hand-me-down clothes in me stands up and hollers in response to Edwards. Another part of me observes that and looks across at the Religious Right’s response to Mike Huckabee, and recognizes the parallel. So, while I like Edwards, and think he’d clearly be better than any of the GOP candidates (or Hillary), I just can’t quite commit to him.

    That’s about all I got.

  4. alsturgeon Says:

    I’ve always liked Edwards, but never made the Gomer Pyle connection.

    It just seems to be a Clinton/Obama race on the left (if you can call it the left), and given that choice, I say Obama. Hillary is just so polarizing (whether deserved or not), and I think Obama has a chance to do something constructive. I hope both msmiranda and urbino keep a close eye on him, though…

    On the Republican side, it looks like a Huckabee/McCain fight to me, and given the choices, I don’t mind those two being the frontrunners. I think the Romney crowd will continue its veer toward Huckabee, and I don’t know that anyone else has a crowd.

    Clinton vs. Huckabee would be a scream (fun for Arkansas!)
    Clinton vs. McCain would be too Washington insider-ish feeling
    Obama vs. Huckabee would be lopsided for Obama (imho)
    Obama vs. McCain – I find that matchup to be the most intriguing

    I think Obama is the strategic choice for the Democrats (the “hope for tomorrow”/ JFK reincarnate card). In response, I think the Republicans best opponent would be McCain (the experience card).

    But I’m just thinking out loud. I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    What I would predict is an upset in the Jag/Patriots game next weekend. Now THAT would be worth watching.

  5. urbino Says:

    Obama vs. Huckabee would be lopsided for Obama (imho)

    That one, unfortunately, would probably feature a lot of “Obama is a closet Muslim” attacks from Fox News and the GOP base. Not as much as a Rudy candidacy would — Rudy would make it the centerpiece of his campaign (right after 9/11, that is) — but more than a McCain or Romney run would.

    That’s my guess, anyway.

    A lot of people seem to think McCain would be the hardest for a Democrat to beat, but I actually don’t think that’s the case if Obama is the nominee. I think more independents and iffy Republicans would vote for Obama than independents and iffy Dems would for McCain. That appears to be already happening in the NH primaries, where independents can vote in either primary, have gone GOP for McCain in large numbers in the past, and don’t seem to be this year; they appear to be going Dem for Obama.

    For Obama, I think Huckabee is the most troublesome opponent. If anybody else gets the Dem nomination, though, then I agree that McCain would be the toughest for them to beat. On the bright side, he does have a habit of shooting his mouth off and hitting himself in the foot.

    Is anybody besides me somewhat concerned about Obama’s safety if he’s elected (or it looks likely late in the campaign)?

    Now THAT would be worth watching.

    And how.

  6. alsturgeon Says:

    You’re probably right. My thinking with Huckabee vs. Obama is that both appeal to fresh change, etc. and Obama is loads freshier and changier. With McCain as an opponent, he could come across as “well Barack is cute and all, but I’ve been tortured as a POW, a longtime congressman who has proven he thinks on his own w/o simply spouting the party line, etc.” – sort of a professor vs. a star student. The student is impressive, but can’t know as much as the older, wiser prof.

    Talk to me about the safety thing.

    BTW, on a related note. I’ll be away from the computer today, and this is why I’m pushing DeJon Redd for president. Due to his unspeakable graciousness, I will be accompanying he and his parents to the BCS Championship Game tonight! I am practicing my “Go Tigers” cheer – one I heard many times in the marathon game vs. Arkansas.

    DeJon in ’08!!!!!!!!!!

  7. msmiranda Says:

    Well, looking at the latest polls, it looks like it’s Obama for the Dems. Which has me breathing a huge sigh of relief even though I still think that Edwards would have a better chance of winning because, well, lots of people are still racist.

    I think an Obama-McCain matchup might be a real contest. How it would come out, I don’t know, because, well, lots of people are still racist. But at least the outcome wouldn’t be as much of a foregone conclusion as it would with Hillary as the candidate.

  8. urbino Says:

    Talk to me about the safety thing.

    Think JFK, MLK, RFK. Obama has pretty much all the things that made a certain class of persons hate those political figures, rolled into one (substituting Iraq for Vietnam, the GWOT for the Cold War). Throw in the nuttiness about Obama being a Muslim “Manchurian candidate,” and you’ve got a candidate who really pushes a certain class of persons’ buttons in a way nobody has in a long, long time.

    I don’t think the student/prof thing would be much of a factor in an Obama-McCain race. Hillary tried it, and it didn’t play well.

  9. mrspeacock Says:

    I have a weird hankering to watch political debates. Part of it is genuine desire to learn, and part of it is sheer entertainment value. I’m telling you, Bill Richardson is a funny man.

    I’m all over the map politically. I’ve voted for both Bush (stone me now) and Nader, so here are my schizophrenic thoughts. I’ll stick with the Republicans for now:

    John McCain: I have a heap of respect for McCain, and not just because he’s a former POW. He championed campaign finance reform when everyone else in his party kept telling him to give it up. He seems to have some actual integrity. His biggest weakness is that he seems so dern old nowadays. That and the tiny little immigration issuse.

    Huckabee: Huckabee’s got the most personality of any of the candidates, and he knows how to inspire people. Plus, it would be nice to have a president who can speak.

    Romney: Urgh. Blech. Moving on.

    Guiliani: See Mrs. Miranda’s original post.

    Ron Paul: If he didn’t sound like a cartoon, maybe the other candidates would take him more seriously. I was surprised at the lack of respect at the NH debate. Which brings me to…

    Fred Thompson: Fred’s entire campaign strategy seems to be, “If I make fun of everyone else, maybe they won’t notice that I have nothing to say.” On the other hand, he did actually look alive in NH. That was a step up.

    I would love a Huckabee/Clinton match-up simply because it would provide a daily excuse to call the Hogs. Wouldn’t it?

  10. alsturgeon Says:

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, PIG SOOIE!

    That felt good after all the “Go Tigers” cheers I lustily participated in last night. I feel sort of dirty this morning, but it was a fun night.

  11. captmidknight Says:

    I don’t have much to add to the political discussion except to state the obvious:

    No matter who you vote for, there are going to be some things you don’t like about them. It almost always comes down to the “least worst.” That plus the fact that you don’t know how they’ll actually govern if they’re elected, regardless of what they say during the campaign.

    I would like to say this to the folks who think Ms. Clinton is down for the count:

    I wish you were right, but I have a feeling that we haven’t seen anything yet. Clinton Inc has so much money – and can get more – and such a feeling of entitlement for the office that they will do whatever it takes to win. It may be a long few months for Obama. The funny thing is that, if she really does loose the nomination to Obama or whoever, I’ll bet there will be almost as many sighs of relief on the Democratic side as on the Republican – IMHO.

    BTW Congrats to the Tigers. Glad you were able to be there in person, Al

  12. urbino Says:

    I think you’re right about the Dem sighs, Cap’n. As for the Clinton campaign treasury, some reports in the last couple of days have indicated they may be nearer the bottom of the coffers than anybody would think. Also, there apparently is already some dissension within her campaign between people who think she should plow ahead regardless of what happens in NH and SC (making the long few months for Obama you mentioned), and people who think that would only damage her and the Clinton “brand.”

    It’ll be interesting to see what actually happens, because it sure looks like she’s going to lose in both states.

  13. urbino Says:

    I feel sort of dirty this morning, but it was a fun night.

    If I had a nickel…

  14. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    It’ll be interesting to see what actually happens, because it sure looks like she’s going to lose in both states.
    ___________

    There was a rumor on the cable news channels today that the Clintons are going to bring James Carvell and Paul Begulla (?) on board as advisors. Now there’s a pair to draw to. Barak better get out his Kevlar underwear.

  15. urbino Says:

    Yeah, I saw a headline somewhere online that Carville is swearing on his momma’s grave that it’s not true.

  16. alsturgeon Says:

    Carville’s too busy celebrating the LSU win.

  17. urbino Says:

    He and Bradshaw are probably rubbing each other’s heads, with glee.

    Wait. Should I have posted that in the porn thread?

  18. alsturgeon Says:

    Possibly. Though I resemble that remark.

  19. captmidknight Says:

    To paraphrase Mark Twain (I think):

    Looks like the reports of Hillary’s demise were greatly exagerated.

  20. urbino Says:

    Twain, yes.

    No kidding. She’s the new comeback kid, I guess. (Roger Moore to Bill’s Sean Connery?) My guess is this puts SC very much back in play.

  21. captmidknight Says:

    JU said:
    No kidding. She’s the new comeback kid, I guess. (Roger Moore to Bill’s Sean Connery?) My guess is this puts SC very much back in play.
    _________
    Absolutely. Not to mention Super Tuesday.

    “Roger Moore to Bill’s Sean Connery?”

    The main problem in having Bill campaigning for Hillary is that he still thinks the crowds are coming to see HIM! If she gets elected, at least it will be fun to see how Bill handles being “First Spouse.” He doesn’t do “second fiddle” very well.

  22. urbino Says:

    No, he doesn’t. Perhaps not surprising, since he’s never had to. I think they’re still trying to figure out how best to use “the big dog.” Also not surprising, I guess, since we’ve never had an ex-president’s spouse running for president before. Somebody on Charlie Rose the other night got it about right, IMHO: use him as an advance man to pump up her crowds by telling everybody what’s so great about her.

    Having him be the attack dog surrogate doesn’t seem to work. For one, he’s not very good at it. For another, I think people just find it unseemly for a former president to be mudslinging, even when they’re for the candidate he’s slinging on behalf of. For a third, she’s so closely identified with him, his mudslinging isn’t as distanced from the candidate herself as it would be if some other surrogate were doing it; she doesn’t really get the benefit of the mudslinger being a surrogate rather than herself.

    That’s my take, anyway.

  23. captmidknight Says:

    It’s going to be quite ironic, if Obama turns out to be a real challenge in a close race for the nomination, to watch the Clintons, who have always tried to cast themselves as the champions of the downtrodden, oppressed black minority, rip apart the first Black man to have a real shot at becoming president. And they will do it if that’s what it takes. I hope the Black community pays attention.
    I think Bill wants to retain the title of the “First (and only) Black President” for a while.

  24. Getting It Wrong « Hungry Hungry Hippos Says:

    […] like Barak Obama was trying to be the Ronald Reagan of liberalism. Back on Jan. 6 of this year, I said: if I’m reading him right, he may have the biggest agenda of any candidate since Ronald Reagan. I […]

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