The 2008 campaign season must have started too soon. Neither party seems to be prepared as both have trotted out their second string to make public appearances on all the talk shows, festivals, county fairs, and well-scripted television "debates". First, there is no real debate in them, just a few controlled questions designed to show them all in their best light. To one who lives out here in the real world, it is simply another version of American Idol.
The Democrats were a motley crew. Hillary Clinton was her usual, well-prepared self as she sent the message that, if you liked Bill, you'll love her. (As if the Great Unwashed had learned nothing about nepotism when George W. "took" the presidency.) Barack Obama, the great writer and orator, couldn't seem to find the words which usually rolled off his tongue so easily, perhaps due to beginner's stage fright. And there was Joe Biden. There is always Joe Biden. The only interesting parts of the appearance were supplied by Dennis Kucinich who makes up in persistence and fortitude for his insignificant appearance and former Senator Mike Gravel, who has justifiably said that "Washington could use some adult supervision." However, the pundits dismiss both of them as gadflies of the extreme left.
The Republicans met in California at the Reagan Museum with Nancy Reagan in attendance and it seemed as if the Ghost of Christmas Past hovered over the whole affair. President Reagan was lionized by one and all, though the current President barely rated a mention. However, when Mrs. Reagan proffered a question about embryonic stem cell research, she was firmly informed that it ain't going to happen so she may as well get over it. Of course, everyone applauded the recent Supreme Court ruling and agreed that it would be a good day when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Only Rudi left open the possibility that these laws should be "left up to the States".
The front-runners were there in all their glory. Mayor Rudi used to be pre-choice but now he's pro-life and he promised to be an inspirational leader, just as he was in New York, (after 9/11 of course). Governor Romney was proud of the way he managed to turn the medical care in his State over to the insurance companies, and defended his statement that he doesn't care a damn what the Pope thinks. I couldn't help but remember the words of his Uncle George, "What's good for General Motors is good for the country." It sort of seems like the Republicans may not so good for the country, right? John McCain was his bellicose self and made clear that he thinks this is a totally winnable war except that it is being run by an idiot and, instead of running us into bankrupcy fighting Iraq, he would chase Oamsa "to the gates of hell". Everyone agreed on everything except for Ron Paul who provided the difference by opposing the Iraq War and advocating for a flat tax, this placing him in the same position as Mike Gravel! The concensus was that any new ideas were anathema and anything wrong could be cured by the elimination of personal freedoms, reduction of taxes, and destruction of all the social programs. Everyone was spiffed up to the nth degree but one was overwhelmed by the thought that something was missing.....the real candidate. There was more shifting, waffling, and flip-flopping than one would expect of a Clinton-Kerry appearance.
Surely I am not the only one out here in the real world who is disgruntled with the lot of them. Except for Kucinich, Gravel, and perhaps Ron Paul, we saw no new thinking, no interesting ideas, and no commitment to the problems that concern working Americans. They seemed to neither know nor care about anything but the war and abortion, those in favor of one being against the other, which really makes no sense at all. But nobody mentioned the loss of jobs, the mortgage foreclosures, illegal immigration, or "fair" trade. Nobody seems to have gotten the point from the recent discovery of contaminated wheat gluten from China which sickened and killed so many of our pet animals with bad pet food which was then given to hog farmers to contaminate your breakfast chops. Nor would any know that the root cause of that was our fair trade treaty with China which destroyed the market for our own gluten factories, most of which have gone out of business. How ironic that we here in the "bread basket to the world" would be importing wheat products! Of course, nobody even brought up New Orleans.
And candidates of both parties appeared to be consumed with the necessity for protecting Israel against any attack from anybody. Wouldn't we be prepared to be as careful of any other friendly nation? They certainly don't seem that concerned about Somalia or Darfur, both of which are in much greater danger. Ot maybe they don't even know about that, or many of the other things which concern those who read newspapers and on-line reports or with which we must deal in our everyday lives. We are told that their jobs are very time-consuming what with wheeling and dealing among other politicians who don't know any more than they do they have no time to learn what is happening outside the Beltway..
But, more pronounced than anything that we felt as we watched the opening appearances of the political "season" was the absence of the Real Candidate of either party. As the spirit of Ronald Reagan hovered above the Republican confab, they seemed to be waiting for the appearance of a Hollywood cowboy to ride up on a white horse and save them all. Maybe they hope the actor and former Senator, Fred Thompson will come along to establish Law and Order like he does on TV or Newt Gingrich will decide to take out another Contract On America. And all through the Democratic show-up was the burnung question, "Where is Al Gore?"
No matter. If either party had someone who would fill the desires of the people, they would surely have presented them. Instead of going back to Clinton or to Reagan, we are looking for someone who will go forward; someone who will scrape off the the barnacles of corruption from our Ship of State and re-create the shining dreams that we knew yesteryear, dreams of equality and brotherhood, fairness, and justice in a land where the contents of your wallet are less important than the kindness that is in your heart; dreams that our children may have a better life than we instead of having to labor and suffer to pay our debts; dreams that no matter the circumstances of your birth, you may attain success by your own efforts and diligence.
The best advice for both parties is to clean their paint brushes and start on a new picture. The American public is sick and tired of re-runs and old ideas. The past is prologue and we are concerned about our future. Perhaps the presidential election of 2008 is of even less importance than continuing the rollover of Congress to new people who really understand what the American public want. Get over it and MOVE ON!