Monday, June 4, 2007

Sublimely Ridiculous

For the Democratic debate, we had multiple livestreams going and, despite the fact that I pre-tested mine about three times with no problems, they still managed to send the wrong feed from Manchester during the first 45 seconds of the debate.

It was not a major problem, but you have to wonder how many people are really exercising critical thinking skills, for starters. I also wonder why anyone deviates from specific instructions.

As I expected, none of the candidates said anything earth-shattering. They all adhered to previously stated positions on the war and taxes. After you've heard their shtick once, it begins to sound so rehearsed. Hillary Clinton seemed to dominate the forum, noteworthy in that she was the only female in a panel of high-powered men, but the gimmicks she employs are somewhat Ayatollah Khomeni-ish.

Hillary conjures the evil Republican party as a comic book nemesis that everyone should fear and tries to rally the faithful around a "we're so much better than them," kind of sanctimonious mind set. High school pep rallies spring to mind. Dick Cheney is a caricature of a bad, bad man in Hillary-world, and George Bush has big red horns. In a way, it's kind of insulting that a politician in this day and age would try to appeal to voters that way, but I suppose there are enough people with simple minds who fall for that kind of nonsense. Lincoln said you can fool all of the people some of the time.

She's convincing enough that you wonder if she really believes the drivel she spouts, but then you realize she's just got to be smarter than that. As many politicians are, she's just selling her brand of snake oil. Coming up as a feminist, I used to think that women could or would somehow make better leaders, but her approach indicates she's sold out as easily as the next man. She even talks like all those other candidates, forgettable men with white hair and dark suits. Obama, at least, seems to carry a whiff of sincerity about him, but everything else about him spells greenhorn.

If I had to put my money on a horse today, I would wager that John Edwards will come out on top in the Democratic field. Hillary is hated as much as she's liked, but she's a polarizing figure. To me, she's kind of like a George Wallace candidate for the 21st century. Obama just isn't soup yet. The others are all forgettable -- they shouldn't even bother. Edwards is a lot like Bill Clinton: Southern, charming, smart, smooth, seemingly-sincere, good looking and a moderate. In the end, he'll break out of the pack and take the nomination, because he can be all things to all people in that party, and because in American politics you have two flavors of candidate: vanilla and vanilla. The question is whether he'll have the stomach to stay in the race, given the personal issues in his life.

If I seem skeptical, I am, but I'm not partisan. I am one of those curmudgeonly Independent voters and proud of it. This just happened to be the Democratic debate. Tomorrow night, the GOP hopefuls will take their places at the podiums.

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