Waiting for the 2012 Debate Box Set

I’ve been a political junkie since 1992 when I was a freshman in high school. That year, in our social studies class, we watched as presidential candidates — everyone from Bill Clinton, Paul Tsongas and Jerry Brown to George Bush and H. Ross Perot — duked it out on national TV and on the front pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Four years later, I cast my first presidential vote for Bob Dole. It was a lukewarm endorsement as everyone could see that Clinton would win again.

In 1999, I worked my first job as a copy editor at a small newspaper in Iowa. Given Iowa’s early draw for presidential candidates, the town in which I worked was a hotbed of political activity. I saw lots of people come through town — and through the newsroom — trying to win endorsements and the Iowa Caucus. I even attended my first rally at the city park. It was for Al Gore. … I’ll give you a moment to gasp…. If nothing else, I thought it would be cool to see the vice president. I shook his hand along the rope line, but I was terribly unimpressed — with him and the whole staged production of the “rally.” It was a hot day and campaign workers had to coax people from the comfort of the sparse shade trees to stand along the yellow rope line in 100-degree heat. Gore was late to show up (a common thing among all candidates, I believe).

In October 2000, Rin and I were married. Luckily, we saw along the same political lines and had many similar beliefs. After the Florida “hanging chad” thing, George W. Bush was named president. Rin and I voted for him. We were happy. We like the guy. Our choice. Let it go.

Four years later, we stood in line to see GWB speak in Springfield. I don’t care who you are or what your politics are, it’s neat-o to see a sitting president speak.

From these first lines, you can tell that I’m a conservative. I’ve never declared myself a Republican, but I do tend to vote along those lines. I truly feel I vote for the person who most aligns with my beliefs and vision for the country. With that said, I often tell my Democrat friends that I’ve probably voted for more people in their party than they’ve voted GOP. Mostly at the local or statewide level.

The only time I almost switched was in 2008. I almost voted for our current president. Like millions throughout the  country, I was swept up by his call for change and his promise to cross political lines and bring the nation together. He convinced me we didn’t need another career politician, but a new face, someone who understood the American people and could see beyond the “red and blue.” However, I voted for John McCain in the general election, someone I had no real interest in; but, unlike Obama, he held to many of my same social beliefs and I thought he would be strong on defense during a time of two wars.

So…Here we are in 2012.

Debates are raging. So many, in fact, I think they should be classified as a television series and sold as a box set. (If anyone makes money on that idea, send me a commission.) So far, I am unimpressed this year. I remember in 2004, many of my more left-leaning media friends were in the ABB category — “anyone but Bush.” I’m the same this year with Obama. At this point, I’m part of the Anyone But Obama party. The country is split worse than I’ve ever seen it. His promise to pull the country together has not been fulfilled. If he could’ve done that, simply by not practicing party politics and by reaching across lines, he’d probably have my vote. And before you jump down my throat, I think the GOP Congressional leaders are JUST AS BAD, if not worse, and I’d be happy if they all took early retirement.

I am looking for a president who can unify. And since the batteries on my “hope and change” light died, I’m ready for someone new. Obama had his chance with me. He lost me. Sorry. I wish him a great post presidency and the best of luck on his memoir book tour. Yet, when I look at the current slate of GOP candidates, I’m left asking: “Is this all the country has to offer?” In my opinion, some of the good ones didn’t run. Probably because they didn’t want to give up lucrative TV contracts and consulting jobs for something as troublesome as a mere U.S. Presidency.

Here are some random thoughts about this GOP primary cycle.

MITT ROMNEY WILL BE TOAST IN MOST ONE-ON-ONE DEBATES (BUT MIGHT HOLD HIS OWN WITH OBAMA). I watched the S.C. Governor say that Romney can’t be rattled. Are you kidding me? All you need to do is rile this guy up a bit. Perry did it when he reminded Mitt about his hiring of an illegal on his house staff. Did anyone watch the debates in 2008? Like Obama, if you put this guy on an unscripted defense, he’s all over the place. And he loves to take cheap shots. Everyone keeps saying he’s the most electable GOP candidate. I don’t think so. If the GOP puts him up against Obama, I think it’ll be like Bob Dole and John McCain all over again. Republicans will vote for him because he’s the guy on the ballot — not because he’s the best for the country.

GINGRICH IS THE BEST ON THE SLATE TO DEBATE OBAMA. This guy is smart, both on and off script. Obama stands no chance in a debate with Newt. But is Newt the best current candidate for the job? Not sold on him yet.

I THINK I CAN VOTE FOR A MORMON. You might think this is an absurd statement and that a candidate’s religion shouldn’t even be considered. But as an evangelical Christian, it’s challenging. You can agree with me or not. I’m not an expert on Mormonism, but I can say with surety that it and evangelical Christianity are not on the same page. However, I do see a comparable moral and ethical standard, and that leads me to say that I could probably vote for Romney or Huntsman. Right now, I like the latter more than the former.

RON PAUL COULD BE ELECTED. Hogwash, you say. Why not? We, the people, can elect whomever we darn well please. Just because Bill O’Reilly and Rachel Maddow say he can’t be elected and he’s a joke doesn’t mean we can’t prove the talking heads wrong. Frankly, he’s the only one I see who is truly reaching people from all parties. Have you seen his rallies? People from all walks of life go to see him. These people are not “jokes.” They are our neighbors, and this candidate has struck a chord. With that said, I personally don’t agree fully with his international policies, but I’m willing to give everyone a look. Are you?

WHO CARES WHO JOHN MCCAIN ENDORSES? Our current members of Congress have the lowest approval rate in history. So, if I don’t have faith in their abilities to govern, why in the world would I care about their endorsement? Every time I see a political endorsement, I immediately think the politician has just been promised a Cabinet position or an earmark. Seriously. Don’t you?

IF BILL CLINTON RAN AGAIN, HE’D BE ELECTED. You think I’m kidding? This guy has charisma. I’m not a fan, but he’s a rockstar and could do it in a heartbeat (no pun intended) even against Obama. Makes me wonder, though. With Clinton’s sexual history, how is he so cool, yet Herman Cain such a pariah? I get the whole “if he cheats on his wife, how can we trust him” thing. I really do. But I’m just wondering about the double standards on the ethics.

THE MEDIA WILL CHOOSE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT. I used to not think this, primarily because I had studied journalism under professors who taught STRICT objectivity. And it’s what I practiced as a journalist. In fact, I totally disagreed with any media outlet offering up any endorsements. Still do. However, all objectivity is lost. Maybe not among individual journalists; but it’s gone collectively throughout the industry. Wherever the cameras and recorders go, so goes the nation.

I DON’T MIND FLIP-FLOPPING, AS LONG AS IT’S NOT A BOW TO SPECIAL INTERESTS AND POLITICAL PRESSURE. I’ve flip-flopped on many issues in the past decade: abortion, conceal-and-carry, homosexuality, defense, energy, etc. etc. It’s natural to change your views as you go through life. Many of my views changed once I had children. Many changed when I began paying taxes. Many changed when I had to find affordable insurance, pay for gas, buy groceries to feed a family of five, etc. That’s life. But when it’s obvious that a candidate flip-flops just because it makes him/her more electable, that’s pure deception and should be indicative of what kind of person we’re getting.

THERE NEEDS TO BE A WOMAN IN THIS MIX. I’m sad that Michelle Bachmann is out of the race. I thought she was tough and strong, and I thought it was good to see her in there fighting against these guys. For some reason, this country of promise and innovation is scared to take that leap. Maybe Rin should run!

I’M FINE WITH OBAMA  SPENDING A BILLION DOLLARS ON A CAMPAIGN. What??? My initial thought when I heard this was a possibility was: “This is absurd. What a waste!” But then I thought a little harder and I came away with this: It’s capitalism. If people want to give him their money, that’s fine. Their choice. When the money is spent, it will (hopefully) be spent inside America. He’s buying gas, food, advertising, etc. He’s taking money from wealthy people and putting it back into the economy. Would I rather it go to homeless shelters and humanitarian efforts? Yes. I think a cool idea would be for the final two candidates to pledge that they would only buy from small businesses — gas stations, restaurants, caterers, marketing firms (for T shirts, signs, buttons and the like). Sadly, we know most of the money will go to advertising for negative ads. Gingrich recently learned that it’s impossible to run a positive presidential campaign. The gloves come off every four years.

THE GOP CAN GAIN ON OBAMA IF THEY RUN THE FOLLOWING AD. I’ve said for a few years that GOP strategists should find video of every time Obama said “I inherited this” and string them together. It would be an expensive commercial because it would run so long. Seriously, Mr. President, when you took office, you took the reins. Another Democrat said “The buck stops here.” You wanted it. You got it. Own it.

CAIN’S 9-9-9 PLAN MIGHT BE A RALLY CRY FOR THE GOP NOMINEE. This election is about the economy and which candidate can get our folks back to work. Cain’s 9-9-9 plan had a lot of momentum. I don’t know how sound it is, but you saw people rally around him like they do Ron Paul. Then, of course, the history of his libido got in the way.

IF THE NEXT PRESIDENT HAILS FROM THE GOP, HE NEEDS TO WORK WITH DEMS. A GOP president does not need to take a play from the Obama Presidency Handbook. A GOP president with big ideas needs to cave a few times with the Dems to build some political capital to effectively sell his solutions. We need someone to bring us together. If Obama had another chance to begin his presidency again, I think he’d do that — give the GOP a few of their things for the first year or so THEN introduce the health care legislation. Pills are not as hard to swallow if you’re not being force fed.

These are some of my thoughts. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind here and there because I’m not running for president. But if I do someday, I’m sure this post will come back to haunt me.


Categories: Hot Topic, Ric | Tags: , ,

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