Sunday, January 06, 2008

Either, Or, Neither, Nor

Okay, being something of a political wonk -- at least to the point of wanting to know something about who's running things in our fair land and past the sound-bite on the evening news -- I sat and watched the presidential debates on ABC last night.

Set in New Hampshire, three days before their primary election, the debate was novel in several ways:

One, it included all the leading candidates from both major parties, first the R's, then the D's.

Two, the format actually allowed the candidates to talk more than a minute each, and among themselves, for at least part of the time.

Three, they were all tired, drawn, and under pressure, which gives you a better insight into what really makes them tick. As a result, the slick veneer cracked at times, and you got to see real emotion. I like that. I want to know whoever is running the Oval Office has feelings -- they get pissed off, joke, give a damn ...

(Some of the speakers came across with the Right Stuff. Some of them whined. Nobody completely fucked up, though they all had iffy moments I'd bet they wish they could do-over.)

The essence of a good story, back in the old pulp fiction days was: Chase your hero up a tree and throw rocks at him. How s/he deals with pressure is the tale.

The Republicans went first, the six leaders. The questions were not softball and easy lobs right over the plate, some of them had bite, and when the dust had settled, and despite the spin by each guy's camp that his man had won, I didn't see a clear victor. I did notice at the time that the R's had fallen on hard times: How scary is it that the guy who doesn't believe in evolution seemed to be the most reasonable and bright one of the bunch?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The D's, down to four, went second -- came out and shook hands with the R's before they sat, and when they were finished, and despite each of their organizations's claims that their man -- or woman -- beat the pants off everybody, nobody ran away with it there, either, in my view.

More amazing, even astounding than the Republicans, which has since Lincoln pretty much been the rich white guy's party, the D's had a black man, a woman, an Hispanic, and one white southerner on the stage. We aren't anywhere near the Age of Aquarius, but we have come a long way, baby, that such a lineup could exist. History staring us in the face, that.

For my money, and based strictly on the debate, you could put any two of the D's on the ticket and they'd be able to handle the job.

Of course, you could walk out on the street and pick two people at random who'd do a better job than the two guys in the offices now ...

For my money, the D's generally came across as smarter, with better ideas, but that's my bias showing. I'm registered Independent, and this time, those are the voters who are going to decide the election. Last time, they went more for the R's. I wouldn't bet that's how it will go this round.

Long time between now and November, and a lot of things can and probably will change -- the war, the economy -- that will alter how people make their decisions, come the general election.
Too early to call, but at the moment, I see that it will probably be McCain or Romney going up against Obama or Clinton at the top of the ticket.

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