Wednesday, September 3, 2008

On Politics

Politics is a hard topic for anyone to talk about because it opens the door for conflicts that one might rather avoid. Many of my friends don't agree with my politics, and the issues of the day are just issues, they don't make me any different than who I am. I am still Mara, your friend, your colleague, for better or for worse.
I can’t seem to contain my thoughts on the Presidential Election and the conventions. I watch both parties. I watch, trying to critique the speeches, like a college student would - for content, for style, for delivery, etc. I come to the table as what the pundits would call a "suburban Republican". I generally vote for the conservative ticket, but I am a social moderate, and my support for President Bush has certainly waivered during his second term.
Why do I vote Republican? For the philosophy. I would rather handle my own money than give it to the federal government to spend. I believe that if you truly believe in the principles the country was founded upon, that you have to embrace capitalism, and that means less regulation. I believe that the country was founded on the principle of freedom and opportunity, not the equality of result. I believe that in order to have clout in the world, we have to have the strongest, most well funded, most respectful military in the world and still fear the need to use it.
I come to the broadcasts of the convention with the above biases. Here are my thoughts:
1. The Hillary Issue: By the end of her speech, I almost liked Hillary. The whole thing was very Clintonian – let-me-tell-you-how-amazing-I-am. Putting herself in the line of the suffrage movement may have been a bit over the top. Do I think that the Obama campaign did itself a disservice by discounting the Clintons? Absolutely. Do I think they solved the problem at the DNC? No. Don’t be fooled, Hillary will be back and the Dems will be praising her again in a couple of years...
2. Joe Biden; For as exciting as Sarah Palin is, Joe Biden is dull. Am I moved about his commitment to his sons in the face of their mother's tragic death? You betcha. But, if he is the experience on the ticket (and he is) - let's talk about THAT. I listen to the news, and other than knowing he is on (the head?) the foreign relations committee, I don't know what he has done in all of his decades in the Senate. When did he reach across the aisle? What did he reform? Tell me, I want to listen, I want to hear it. I am begging for a good reason to be a swing voter. The result: Biden night didn't do it for me. Where's the beef? (And a question to the media: if we are going to talk about family pregnancies and DUI tickets in high school, why aren't we talking about Biden's plagiarism?)
3. The Spectacle at INVESCO Field - I watched Barack deliver his keynote speech at the DNC in 2004 that launched him to superstar status. I was impressed by him. His poise, his promise. I believed him to be THE rising star of the Democratic party. I really wanted to like him. But, his speech at INVESCO Field struck me as lacking on several points:
1. The inherent paradox: His story is the American dream. He is the son of a single mother, born to a Kenyan father (an interracial relationship in that age must have created a stir). He grew up in small town America, gaining respect and experience through the pursuit of higher education. It says so much about our country that someone like Barack can go from humble beginning to Harvard to the state legislature to the Senate. And Barack told his story well. But within paragraphs of concluding his American dream story, he went on to say, that these days, the American dream is in jeopardy. That Americans are no longer able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, and that when he is President, there will be programs in place to help. Does that make sense? If Barack was able to do it in the 1960's, what has changed to make it impossible now? Maybe this is the fundamental reason I have voted Republican. I still think that in America, if you work hard, you can live the American dream. Maybe it is just that we don't want to work for it anymore?
2. Barack didn't give us a memorable theme or line or something from his speech. The fireworks were impressive, but I didn't leave stirred with a chant in my head. Was it "yes we can" or "say no to four more years" or “change” or what?
3. Why didn't he go with what he is good at? I think he should have gone with the big rhetorical speech. He should have pulled on the heartstrings and gotten us emotional. He had the stage set up for theatrics and we got a vanilla speech. It was a laundry list of the ills of America and "working class" this and that, with no real concrete reason as to why he is the "change" candidate other than he is a democrat. Unlike Oprah Winfrey, I am sad to say, it didn’t change my life.
4. Overall Impression: Notably, the DNC rarely mentioned 9/11/01. It was lacking in the Bill Clinton speech (not surprising), it was never discussed as a reason WHY the country is facing challenges abroad, with our military, etc. The DNC created a revisionist history that glossed over the minor detail of the largest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor. I do think that the democrats were successful in unifying their party with the Clinton spotlight. Hillary conducted herself with grace. The DNC failed to convince me that Democratic party is going to offer any 'change' other than the same old democratic platform.
1. Gustav - I think that the Republicans handled the Gustav threat very well. The timing was unfortunate. One hopes that each party will get its full time to explain its message, but so be it. Did it remind us what a failure the government, local, state and federal, was during Katrina? Yes. Do I think it has been proven that the lesson was learned? Yes.
2. Fred Thompson - Delivery was excellent. Even as a regular news watcher, I did not know the details of McCain's military experience and I was moved by the story. McCain is a brave man. His military experience doesn't qualify him to be President, but it sure does speak to the man's character. I don’t think his courage is in dispute.
3. Joe Lieberman - Clearly, this man has a lot of respect for McCain. He is difficult to listen to, his voice, his presentation is lack luster. He is putting his neck out there by supporting McCain and it speaks volumes given the wrath that he will face from his former Dem friends (as evidenced by Bill Richardson on the news circuit this morning). If you are independently minded, I don't know if Lieberman's endorsement really means anything. The independents that are up for grabs are probably the ones that left the Gore/Lieberman ticket in 2004 and voted for Bush. I originally thought it would be dramatic if McCain would choose Lieberman as his running mate. After his speech, I am relieved that he didn't.
4. Sarah Palin - On Friday morning, when the news channels were reporting that Sarah Palin was the anticipated pick - "mmm... who?" was my reaction. But, the more I hear the more I like. Do I agree with her on all issues? No. I am not ready to reverse Roe V. Wade for one. But, her record (and yes, if the press would focus on REAL news, she has one worth talking about) on taking on the old boys in Alaska, taxing Big Oil and rebating Alaskan citizens is good. She is an exciting out-of-the-box VP pick. Unlike the Biden pick, she has the potential to bring real change to Washington. I can't wait for her speech tonight.

1. Bristol's pregnancy - If this candidate was a man, and it was HIS 17 year old daughter who was pregnant, would we still be talking about this? Bristol's pregnancy doesn't reflect on how successful Sarah Palin is as a mother and even less related is the reflection it has on her ability to be the Vice President of this country. Even more ironic, is that our other historic candidate is the child of a single mother. Does that reflect on him? on his mother? Bristol's pregnancy is not incongruous with Palin's abstinence position. Palin is promoting a form of birth control, and like all birth control, sometimes abstinence doesn't work. Bristol Palin isn’t the first teenager to get pregnant and she won’t be the last.

I saved the best for last. It has never been more apparent to me than in the last 2 weeks how absolutely bias the media in this country are. I have watched MSNBC for years and was moved to tears when I heard of Tim Russert’s death. I always considered the network fairly moderate, if not, liberal leaning. But I would swallow the liberal leaning for the cool tones of Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw.

Not anymore. How the media has jumped like rabid dogs on Sarah Palin and her less than newsworthy family news, her “experience” issue, and the digging of dirt on her alleged ethics issues is appalling. This morning I watched Meredith Veira lay into Rudy Giuliani about whether Palin was experienced enough to be Vice President.

Here is a little refresher. She is going to be VICE President. McCain is still fully functional as far as I can tell. And if, God forbid, something would happen, Palin would have A. the experience of having been VP for some amount of time and B. the ability to choose a running mate to compliment her relative lack of inexperience on foreign relations issues, someone, hmmmm… like Joe Biden? Sounds like exactly what the Obama campaign had to do because their Presidential candidate has no foreign relations experience, no military experience and no executive experience at all.

So, lets all watch tonight as the much maligned Sarah Palin takes the stage. She has already put fear into the hearts of the Democratic faithful and the media, my prediction is that their attacks will become even more desperate by the morning. I can’t wait to hear what Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will have to say about it.


Anonymous said...

Nicely written... However, what's the follow-up? How did you like the speech? L.

Mindy said...

"I still think that in America, if you work hard, you can live the American dream. Maybe it is just that we don't want to work for it anymore?"

Amen! My thoughts exactly. It's sad to see people looking for "hand outs" when they are capable but choose to not work as hard or at all. They think someone else needs to help them out of their hole; they just can't do it themselves.