Out On a Limb With a Saw

Well, Super Tuesday is coming at us like a freight train and both parties have pretty much narrowed their fields down to two viable candidates. In one corner we have John McCain and Mitt Romney. In the other we have Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Ding, ding, ding ……. let the final round begin.

I voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004. In 2000 McCain was the best candidate, but I settled for George W when he got the nod. My defense is that I really didn’t know that he was an embarrassing and dangerous idiot at the time. By 2004, I knew about his mental shortcomings, but voted for him anyway because he was the lesser of two evils. I still stand by that vote, but it pains me that, in a country of over 300 million potential candidates, I was forced to make that decision.

Well, this year is different and we finally have some qualified people from which to choose. I can make a decent case for any of the four candidates. That’s unusual for someone who has never voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate before and can count on his hand the number of other democrats he’s supported over thirty years of voting. But, with the situation that we’re in now, we can’t afford to let party lines limit our choice.

John McCain has been my guy for years and is the only member of the current crop of candidates who could wear the mantle of “statesman”. He’s a moderate Republican who has an independent streak that drives him to break away from the party line when logic tells him that he should. He has an inherent ability to call a stupid idea stupid and an idiot an idiot. That more, than anything, is why I like him. Both domestically and internationally he would bring nearly instant credibility and respect to an office that has lost both. His strengths are his ability to build a bi-partisan effort to address the incredibly tangled mess that George W. Bush leaves behind and the management skills to carry it through. His weaknesses are his limited focus on economics and his age and health. We dodged a bullet with Ronald Reagan. He was a great leader, but I think everyone wonders how advanced his Alzheimer’s was by the end of his second term. At seventy-two years old, some people may have the same concern if McCain tries for a second term.

Barack Obama is the probably the most intelligent and erudite politician we’ve had in decades. Like McCain he’s a moderate in his party and has a solid base from which to build bi-partisan support. Because of his middle class roots, He also has a well developed ability to connect with the average person. He has a better handle on domestic policy than he does on either international politics or economics, but he’s not unskilled in either of the latter. We’re past the time when a person’s race should be a factor in his election and Obama’s multiracial heritage gives him a good chance of breaking that barrier. With the backing of most of the Kennedy clan, an argument could made that he’s the first democrat in nearly fifty years to have both the vision and aura of JFK. Obama’s biggest weakness is his age. Despite his likeness to a later day Kennedy, he doesn’t have the same experience and political connections that Kennedy had when he was campaigning. We’re stuck in a morass right now and we might not have the time to give him the required on the job training.

Mitt Romney is a bit more conservative than John McCain, but not so much as to alienate moderates of either party. Despite his Olympic CEO background, he doesn’t have international experience equal to any of the other three major candidates. However, his experience as Governor of Massachusetts has given him a firm feel for how to handle the domestic problems we now face. Most importantly he has exactly the skill set we need to handle the economic recession that is virtually unavoidable at this point. His biggest weakness is one that can’t be avoided and is patently unfair. He’s Mormon. That shouldn’t make a difference and, if it weren’t for the bible belt that slices across the southeast portion of our country, it wouldn’t. The red state heritage of that region is deeply rooted in the right wing conservative traditions of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of Christ and the Assemblies of God. None of those groups are ready to rally around a Mormon in great numbers regardless of his qualifications. Without the Bible Belt, no Republican can win a presidential election.

Hillary Rodham Clinton. Senator Clinton has finally made it to race she’s been planning since 1990. Make no mistake she has always considered it her destiny to be President of the United States and she’s not the only one who’s had that thought. As early as 1974 she was pegged as a potential future president by the democratic political analyst Betsey Wright. That’s a bit of an enigma since Clinton grew up in a very conservative republican family. Her early years included political activism for Barry Goldwater while she was still a teenager. It took the Republican Convention of 1968 and Richard Nixon’s presidency to cause her to switch allegiances. She is liberal, but she’s also a realist and her conservative roots occasionally bubble to the surface. She’s formed a workable bi-partisan relationship with her congressional opponents, Lindsey Graham for example, and she knows how to work a compromise when needed. The eight years she spent in a virtual co-presidency with her husband gives her a level of understanding and experience for the job that none of her opponents have. While she isn’t as skilled as Romney in economics, she still understands what needs to be done to dig out from the coming recession. Domestic policy is probably her strength, but her experience in international politics is strong enough. If she were Republican, my mind would be made up.

So, here I sit on this limb getting ready to crank up the chain saw. Before the wood chips start to fly and I come crashing to the ground, here are my predictions for the political world after Super Tuesday. Romney will make a good show of it, but McCain has the both the momentum and the party backing. He’s going to be the Republican nominee. The Obama-Clinton race is harder to call. By all rights, Clinton should get the nomination, but my bet is on Obama. The country is hungry for change and Obama has a better chance of getting crossover votes than Clinton does. I’m not sure they really need them, too many voters on both sides look at the past seven years under Bush as a dark age in American politics. I think either Clinton or Obama can win.

Having rambled on for an eternity, where does that leave me. In a perfect world I’d vote for Romney. This election is about one thing…..the economy. Iraq is winding down. No matter who gets elected, that direction is set. Domestic policy, foreign policy, the War on Terror, border control and illegal immigrants, education……..none of it means anything until someone maps out and executes the plan for repairing the economy. Romney would be the guy who could get that done the best and soonest.

But, this isn’t a perfect world. Given the choice between Obama and McCain, I’ll vote, with some minor reservations, for McCain. My hope is that logic will prevail and Romney gets the second seat. Now that’s a team that could put a smile back on my face.

There you go, I’ve made my predictions. No going back now. Vroooom, putt putt putt…..put your safety glasses on, here come the wood chips.


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2 Comments on “Out On a Limb With a Saw”

  1. Tom Says:

    I agree with you on most points but my choice right now is Obama, even though it would be the first time in my life that I have voted for a democrat for president. I think his lack of experience (political influence) ia a huge plus. I like McCain, I think you are right about Romney and the economy, and I could still change my mind before Nov.
    I don’t think we need a co-presidency which I believe will happen no matter how much she protest, he is a loose cannon, so I would not vote for Clinton
    I voted for Bush also, but its not something I am proud of.
    You should be writing a regular column, I’m very impressed.

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