Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Saturday Debates So Telling

I'm easily entertained at times and found myself home this past Saturday night (Jan. 5) when ABC had both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates for televised debates.

It was fascinating. And this comes from a guy who never misses Chris Matthews and loves politics.

Watching politicians of both parties spew the usual crap and seldom tackle real issues is frustrating. I'm starting to buy into the reasoning that maybe, just maybe, Americans are finaly fed up. But, I'm not holding out hope just yet.

Huckabee and Obama's recent success suggest it could be the year of the outsider. But we need more primaries to figure that one out. I was taken by Mike Barnes, long-time Boston Globe political columnist, saying he had seen nothing like Obama's stump speeches since 1968 and Robert Kennedy.

I had not thought of that comparison but there are similarities.

But back to the debates: It was interesting to hear Huckabee - who's policies I find largely wrong, wrong, and wrong - come to Obama's defense. He said if the Republicans don't spend more time talking about what they're for instead of against, they would have no chance against a candidate like Obama.

And when Obama was asked about the Republican's earlier lame, tired, labeling him as a "liberal" - that most evil of words - his repsonse was appropriately dismissive. In essence he said, 'Listen, they're going to say that about whoever the Democratic candidate is in the general election."

To quote a great Democrat, and addressing the evil "liberals," -- that dog don't hunt!

So here comes the rant. I honestly believe the Republican candidates are sooo out of touch. They fell all over themselves praising President Bush - a strategy that seems to have little benefit for a man with a 30 percent approval rating.

They railed that Radical Islam just wants to kill us and, more amazing, our policies in Middle East have nothing to do with Islamic feelings. During my four school years at Wabash College, I've covered 4-5 prominent Islamic/Middle East scholars - almost all of Islam/Middle Eastern descent - discuss the political situation. And every single one of them say the U.S. interference and occupations in the Middle East is the biggest problem we face ... and the best recruiting tool for the radicals.

How about the Republican's defense of big oil? How about big Fred Thompson saying he had no problem with the oil industries record, enormous profits?

It's like the Republicans have one play book, they never update it, they never change it. They are still wearing out Ronald Reagan's name, and his demonizing of the world liberal. They're still advocating trickle down economics that trickle down on the head of the middle class.

I am not enamored with much of the Democratic field either, dear readers. But I'm starting to buy into the Obama concept of positive leadership, hope and change.

McCain and Hillary are wrong, I believe, experience is over-rated. The president should be a bully cheerleader and surround himself with the very best people. Wouldn't Joe Biden make a great vice president? Or, Johm McCain?

Presidents set the agenda, and in recent years just preach to the choir - their core constituencies. Isn't it refreshing to hear Obama and Huckabee talk about unity and making an attempt and minimizing partisanship.

I'm not niave enough to think they'll totally achieve that lofty goal but at least they're talking about it in a way that gives hope.

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