Friday, July 11, 2008

This Strange, Underwhelming, Presidential Campaign

This Strange, Underwhelming, Presidential Campaign

Is it just me, or is there something fundamentally STRANGE about this presidential campaign? It strikes me as, well, just plain weird.

The two most unlikely candidates remain out of a field of, uh, unlikely candidates…. and they have Americans, of all political stripes, scratching our heads in wonderment and amazement that anyone, let alone the two giant political parties in America, would finally settle on Obama and McCain as their candidates.

Once again, Americans are going to have to make the awful choice of the candidate who seems to them to be the lesser of two evils. That is a horrible way to run a country. It is truly awful to expect a government to function well when the leadership is of such, ahem, “questionable quality”. No matter which one wins, Americans have such extremely low expectations of them that just surviving the next 4 years will seem like a rousing success… and it might well be!

I look at these guys and I cringe! One candidate is such a “lofty” personage that he only touches the ground on occasion. He speaks in oratorical gestures that are awe-inspiring. His beatific phrases are sweeping and all encompassing in their scope and their depth. His orations are musical in their poetic meter. His chin tilted upward, as he delivers his anointed wisdom, gives the impression that he is so “above it all” that he is doing the masses a great boon by making himself available just for them to hear. And with all the flourishes of words and phrases and punctuation… what does he say? What is his messianic message? Not a damn thing!

Look, I have been what some might call a “word-smith” painting “word pictures” most of my life. So, I am familiar with the use of great oratorical flourishes to fill a void with… well, nothing. If you don’t have a lot to say, you say a lot. See what I mean? This candidate is a past master at it. He leaves his audiences filled with an emotional overload… but nothing else. For those of us in the “word” business he is as transparent as a pane of glass. And what we see is… nothing. It frightens the bejesus out of us that so many, supposedly intelligent, people can be taken in by the emotional roller coaster ride he takes them on. Expectations for this man’s presidency are… slim and none.

Now, to the other, uh, candidate: This guy has none of the oratorical ability the candidate above is blessed with. Zip, zero, nada! Much as the current President Bush, this guy has difficulty putting half a dozen words together to create a sentence. (See… this is where the Brits have it over us… big time. Their politicians can actually speak… and in the mother tongue… both conservative and liberal!)

And there is the teleprompter thing. Ever try to use one of those things? It’s hard! It takes skill to look through that thing and mimic eye contact with a listener in the audience while forcing your mind to register what is written on that transparent screen and switch the mental gears in your head to speak those words with conviction… in a, more or less, coherent fashion… and look sincere doing it. (Even writing the preceding sentence to describe it was difficult!) I haven’t seen a politician yet who could do it with ease. Hardly anyone can. It takes all sorts of mental gymnastics. If I had a vote I’d vote to toss ‘em and go back to the 3 x 5 cards or the printed page. I mean… everybody knows the speaker is reading it, anyway. Eee-gads! Why do we put them, and ourselves, through this in the first place?

So, what has THIS candidate offered? I don’t know. I have been so uninterested in what he has to say that I have not paid much attention, to be honest. To be even more honest… I really don’t care. He had my attention back in 2000 when he “disrespected” (if you will forgive my use of the vernacular here) my native state of South Carolina and I have had little use for him since. We Sandlappers have extremely long memories.

Yes, he is a hero. Yes, he has served his country practically all his life. Yes, he is experienced in government in a way the candidate above will never be, and yes, I think he is about as out of touch with the common man and woman in America as the candidate above. To be absolutely honest… he leaves me flat, cold… nothing. The expectations for his presidency? Again… slim and none.

Now, when I stand back and look at these two men, I swear, I, too, scratch my head and ask: “How did we come to this?” How can a country as rich in gifted, smart, intelligent people manage to produce two such mediocre candidates for president? How is it even possible?

Contrary to many political writers, I still believe the old “smoke-filled” rooms exist. I don’t think they disappeared, at all. I think they simply went underground. For those of you who are not experienced enough in the world of politics to understand the connection of “smoke-filled rooms” and presidential candidates, suffice it to say that was where each political party’s candidates were chosen before being trotted out, at the conventions, as the “chosen” one. Heck, it worked pretty well for a very long time. (I wonder if the lack of “smoke” in those rooms has dimmed the wits of the men who toil there? All those “Thank you for not smoking” signs have put a stop to the swirls of bluish cigar smoke curling from the partially opened transoms above the locked and guarded doors to those rooms.)

In any event, it is too late to correct their choices for us for this election cycle. Maybe four years from now we can rip those “No Smoking” signs off the walls and place cigar dispensers in those rooms. I mean… how much worse could it get? No, let’s not go there! I don’t even want to think about it!


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TexasFred said...

In 1776 our forefathers put their lives and fortunes on the line when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They didn’t settle for 2nd best. They didn’t choose the lesser of 2 evils. They chose freedom and they staked their lives and liberty on that great act of revolution. They were true men of substance and courage.

Sadly, there are far too few of these men today...

You Sir, are NOT in that crowd, you are a man of courage and it is my pleasure to be associated WITH you...

Longstreet said...

Why, thank you, Fred, for those kind remarks! I assure you, sir, the feeling is mutual!

Best regards to the family.