I heard on the news yesterday that Republican presidential candidate John McCain made a very "conservative" remark at a campaign rally.
Fresh off his primary win in New Hampshire, he must have been feeling his oats when he said, as a example of "outrageous pork barrel" spending, that:
"A few years ago we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that's a paternity issue or a criminal issue."
I thought it was just cheeky enough to qualify McCain as a legitimate Presidential contender. That is, until I read a blurb at FactCheck.org that indicates that the bill that McCain refers to was a budgetary bill--that he voted FOR!
That settles it; he's DEFINITELY qualified to be President!
Now that's sad, isn't it? That we half-joke that if you're a liar (or at least a partial-truth teller) then you're qualified to be President of the United States? But then, perhaps that's not all that inaccurate. How would you define the word "politics"? I have a colleague who says that politics is (and I paraphrase): saying the things you need to say in order to get what you want. It fits. If McCain hopes to land the Presidential nomination, then he's going to have to mix in just the right amount of "fiscal conservatism"; it helps if it's laced with a little humor.
Speaking of politics, NewsWeek.com reported earlier this week that Hillary Clinton, while at an event in a coffee shop in Portsmouth N.H., was asked by an undecided woman voter, "How do you get out the door every day? I mean, as a woman, I know how hard it is to get out of the house and get ready. Who does your hair?" Hillary chuckled and cracked a few jokes. Then she paused, and in a breaking voice, eyes red, she began. "I just don't want to see us fall backward as a nation. I mean, this is very personal for me. Not just political. I see what's happening. We have to reverse it." She went on, as tears began to well in her eyes, to say that "some people think elections are a game: who's up or who's down. It's about our country. It's about our kid's future."
And with that, a new comeback kid was born. Hillary, still recovering from the severe blow dealt her in the Iowa primaries (third; behind Barack Obama and John Edwards), and facing a pre-election day poll that put her seven points behind Obama in the New Hampshire primary, was in desperate need of a boost. The pundits said it was her downfall, that a Presidential candidate was expected to be strong, resilient, able to face the stresses of the campaign trail, ever smiling, never faltering. The pundits were wrong.
Wednesday morning brought a brand-new day for Hillary, a day filled with hope and promise, as the day prior, voters had turned out in droves to support her, keeping her dream alive (at least for one more primary), and giving her the win in New Hampshire.
It gave me hope, for a moment, that voters in America are still compassionate enough to reward a Presidential candidate who isn't afraid to show some emotion, even in the face of stark criticism. In fact, my opinion of Hillary ratcheted up just a bit after hearing that she cried.
Until a day or two later, when I heard a quote by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. He said, on MSNBC, that he was suspicious of her tears. "They have to be looked at very, very carefully in light of Katrina," he said, "in light of other things Mrs. Clinton did not cry for."
I was floored. And I feel betrayed. Because she DIDN'T cry over Katrina (at least not publicly). I don't know that she cried over 9/11 in public. And she didn't, as I recall, cry in public over her husbands' dalliances while he held office.
But then, as the Rev. Jackson said, those instances didn't pose the enormous opportunity she seized last week at that coffee shop. So perhaps she wasn't being genuine. Or, perhaps the tears were for those dreams that tottered precariously on that edge of shattered.
And so I ask, are these our candidates? Is this the best we have to offer? I don't say that to degrade them--they're likely all very nice people. But you have to be suspicious of someone who wants the job so bad, that they'll calculate and manipulate, stretch and bend the truth, just to squeeze out a few extra, crucial votes.
One of these (or, one of the numerous others in the mix, most just like these), will be your next President, fellow Americans.
I think that, at this point, the best we can hope for is a vote-locked legislature that can't muster up enough votes in any direction to pass any law of any substance--good or bad. Dormancy and inaction are far safer than the damage a self-absorbed politician with no agenda other than to get his name in the history book might do.
As for me? I think that I'm going to write in Shawna for President. She has to deal with Lex and Gentry, and most of all, ME, every single day. She's not afraid of anything.
She'd do fine, too; especially since I think the Oval Office has a multi-line telephone system!