Monday, September 29, 2008

Veeps On Parade

The vice-presidential debate happens this week. Oh boy, this should be good...well, maybe "good" is a stretch, but at least, "interesting". I have been more than a little disconcerted at Sarah Palin ever since she cast aspersions upon the role of the community organizers as a way to demean Obama's experience in relation to hers, but simply dismissed it as her reading the script someone had written for her. It is a viable issue for me, however, because to discount the work of the community say, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and countless others, the majority of whom labor in utter obscurity, is a not only a travesty, but a complete lack of understanding of the role of the servant leader in culture. If a good leader is a demagogue who sits upon a pedestal and makes arbitrary and self-serving decisions without having to live among and alongside the people he is making decisions for, he is a nothing more than an elitist, out of touch puppet of power...but I digress.

I do want to see Palin and Biden, debate the issues. Palin has a particular philosophical position, which I have no quarrel with... and at least partially, is consistent in her talk and her talk. She is taking criticism for her inability to handle the press in interviews with network anchors, and the growing sense that for all her good looks and strong talk, there might not be any "there' there.

The democratic vice-presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is taking some pretty heavy blows to the body in these preliminary rounds as well...some from his own ticket. Biden has always had a reputation for having an opinion on every subject, and is often described as a "loose cannon' because he speaks occasionally without filtering his comments. It has happened several times in just the last week. I have a little different take on Biden's logorrhea, and in fact find his non-partisan honesty very refreshing. For example, several weeks ago he was asked about a political ad run by his campaign accusing John McCain of being computer illiterate. Biden, without missing a beat said that he hadn't seen the ad, but that if it was what was portrayed, he denounced the ad as unfair, unkind and out of bounds...He was absolutely right. Later that week he was asked in a New Hampshire town hall meeting about Hillary Clinton. Biden responded by saying that he wanted to make something perfectly clear...he thought Hillary was as qualified, if not more qualified than he was to be the next vice president. The opposition jumped all over it, but what is wrong with a little realistic humility and being willing to give another the pat on the back they deserve? I know...politics is politics...but sheeeeeeesh! Then last week, when asked about the AIG federal buyout plan, Biden declared that he thought it was a terrible idea and he was against it. The problem was that Obama had already spoken in favor of it and had to come out publicly saying that Biden should have waited to voice his opinion until later in the process. I'm no economist, but I agree with Biden...and by the way, McCain was also opposed to the plan early on until his campaign told him he wasn't.

I know that parties generally like to present a united front, and in organizations that is usually a good idea as well, but in this case, I am grateful for someone who speaks what he believes to be the truth even if it is not considered politically expedient.

So...hang on to your TV trays, Thursday may be a doozy...



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My political wish-list...

I had been tempted to blog about the recent and now completed political conventions in the middle of them, but refrained for several reasons. First I wanted to have a bit of objectivity. I was blown away by speeches by Michelle Obama and Jesse Jackson Jr. along with a terrific benediction prayer by our buddy Donald Miller at the DNC. Obama's speech to end the convention in front of 50,000 responsive delegates and adherants was powerful. I had a real doubt whether the RNC could match that kind of juice. Then Alaska governor Sarah Palin was selected and the Republican ticket was energized with surprise and cvontroversy. I was wrong...they matched, if not trumped the DNC for impact. I am a lifelong Democrat who has always stubbornly and independently voted for the person I thought would be best for the office, regardless of their party affiliation. I have been a curious, but rarely faithful follower of conventions down through the years. My problem with them is that they most often seem to be little more than pep rallys and info-mercials for the ticket and the party...with everybody piling on the opponent, and everybody patting each other on the butt, saying "good game", regardless of their hatred for each other just a month earlier in the primaries. I get it...I know their intended purpose, but as beautiful as this democratic two-party system is, at this point in the contest we choose to resort to diversionasry tactics to hope the American peiople pay more attention to the side show than the least until that Monday in November when the votes get cast and we are stuck with whomever was the most facile with smoke and mirrors. I really wanted that not to be the case this time...I was hoping a Obama/Biden and McCain/Lieberman ticket would be so intriguing because there were both significant AND subtle differences between the two tickets, but instead we got a veep candidate who is so unknown and untested that the best we can do is be impressed with the fact that she can field dress a moose, and she looks way better than Hillary in a pantsuit. She is a persuasive speaker, she has decidely conservative Republican views which certainly balance out McCain's weakness on that front. However, her record of acromony with her fellow Republican officers in the state government,and the fact that her terms as both as mayor and governor were rife with controversy, might be seem to indicate that the highest priority in a running mate this time around was the even-bad-publicity-is-good-publicity theorum.

I want so desperately for Obama's grassroots, open-source, everyman political movement to be for real. I want the remarkable internet communication, facebook groups and twitter links to be an indicator that the small voice is as important as the rich lobby voice, and not just a bait and switch come on. I want a man or woman who does not return evil for evil on the campaign trail or in foreign policy. I need for opinions on hot button issues like immigration, abortion, and gay marriage to be based not on political expediency, close-minded bigotry, or personal comfort, but on constitutional clarity, a deep abiding reverence for both the sanctity of life and the quality of life, and a commitment to the dignity of every man, woman and child. That means that for me there will always be some gray ares where we cannot legislate morality.

So, I just want these last 7 weeks to be characterized by legitimate discussion and debate. I do believe that Obama is absolutely correct that Washington is broken and needs to be fixed. I also believe that McCain is right that it is way past time for the answers to come in a non-partisan partnership of cooperation. I also know that the odds of that actually happening are astronomical. Roughly the same odds as having a black man actually become president. But then, I've always believed in longshots. Heck, I've been a Cleveland Indians fan for almost 50 years.