One year from today George Bush and his policies will be history. One of my favorite bloggers has given her take on the major Republican and Democratic candidates to replace Bush. Her opinion seems to be that we have a "paltry choice".
My take is very different.
Ignoring, for the moment, their stands on the issues that face the country, I am very impressed with the field of candidates, by and large. All seven are smart and articulate and have been seriously involved in national public policy. I do not understand why anyone would feel that the candidates are any less able, articulate, sincere, or patriotic than previous fields of candidates in our history.
On the Republican side I was very unimpressed with those who seemed contenders before Iowa. McCain was considered out of it. The lackluster Guiliani led the polls. Another son of a politician with lots of money and not much else was contending. And there was an effort to fill the social conservative void with a disinterested Fred Thompson. Then Huckabee came out of nowhere (this coincided with hiring my niece) and McCain was reborn. Now we seem left with two quality candidates (Huckabee and McCain) and two politicians on the Republican side.
As I have said for months, I believe our major Democratic candidates - Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Biden, Dodd, and Richardson, are brilliant. Any one of them could take office today and do very well. Even our "fringe candidates" - Kucinich and Gravel - have contributed strongly to the debate. The eight have now been winnowed down to three contenders - Edwards, Clinton, and Obama.
I have long thought that a prime factor to be considered is the candidate's comfort in his own skin. The quintessential examples of Presidents who have had that confidence, sincerity, eloquence, and calm that I call "comfort in his own skin" are Ronald Reagan for the Republicans and Bill Clinton for the Democrats. On the Republican side Huckabee comes closest to that ideal. McCain lacks the easy eloquence of Huckabee but comes off as sincere. Romney and Guiliani fail the test, partly, perhaps, because they must campaign as more conservative socially, than they probably really are. In this year’s field John Edwards and Barack Obama stand out on the Democratic side (as did Biden earlier), though I think Hillary Clinton has begun to find a more genuine voice, as well.
All of the major candidates have ample experience to perform well as President. Huckabee and Romney were governors, Guiliani ran a big city governement for many years, And McCain has had a long career in Congress. On the Democratic side Obama has the shortest experience, as a state legislator and US Senator, but makes up for it in savvy, vision and eloquence. Edwards has been dealing with national issues through a term in the US Senate and two campaigns for President. Hillary Clinton has been in the thick of national issues during seven years as US Senator and as a partner to Bill Clinton during his service to Arkansas and to the nation.
None of the candidates is a lightweight. They all strike me as serious folk. All seem sincere patriots who will take the oath of office as a sacred trust. I have some reservation about Romney and Guiliani who seem a bit slippery to me -- Guiliani downright dangerous.
Unfortunately we are in a time when sincerity and patriotism are not enough. We need an inspiring leader who is willing to correct the mistakes of the past eight years while putting together a concensus that can make us one country again. I realize , of course, that no one can please the hateful Limbaughs or Coulters, but I believe the right candidate can unite a majority of us. Someone who will stand on principle but who will also be willing to reach across the aisle and compromise.
I have been an Edwards supporter since 2003, but I am excited at the prospect of either of the other two as our nominee, as well. I find Huckabee and McCain very likable but wrong on the issues. Romney and Guiliani are not likable to me, for whatever that’s worth.
Here's a rundown --
Articulate, right on the issues, inspiring speaker, sincere, has been vetted through a national campaign. brilliant mind, strong vision for the future. He has the most completely delineated platform of any candidate. He is a committed husband and father. Unfortunately for us and for him the press decided to ignore him some time ago. Should he manage to pull out a victory in South Carolina, the press would barely mention him but instead blather about Clinton's loss and Obama would be declared the winner even if he were third, because of Clinton's loss. After all, when she won New Hampshire they had to talk about the fact that a majority voted "against" her even though a larger majority voted "against" each of the other candidates -- I suspect a majority of Democrats are like me and will be solidly behind the eventual nominee. I'm sticking with John Edwards through South Carolina, then I'll re-evaluate the situation before we in Georgia vote on February 5.
Articulate, right on the issues, good speaker and getting better, unique experience as the partner of a wonderful president, a history of working “across the aisle”, brilliant mind, inspiring as the first woman with a serious shot at the White House. Cannot be further damaged by the Republican swift-boaters. I was intriged by her autobiography. She is about my age and shares much of my history as a baby-boomer and a reformed Republican. We were both greatly influenced by our experiences in Methodist Youth Fellowship. The cold calculation she is accused of in some quarters is simply an invention of the Republican smear machine. As an aspiring professional in the 70s, she had to have a formal exterior. Her dedication to her beliefs is evident and illustrated by her dedication to her marriage.
Beyond articulate - eloquent, right on the issues, a history of working “across the aisle”, brilliant mind, inspiring as the first black with a serious shot at the White House. He would represent a “passing of the torch” His supposed inexperience does not bother me. Our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, was less experienced. Like Obama he gained his experience in political debate. And like Lincoln, Obama is a poetic and inspiring orator.
Articulate, sincere, had the good sense to hire my brilliant niece as a close aide. BUT... has a crazy, dangerous, disastrous, plan to shift the greatest tax burden from the wealthy to the middle class via the so-called “fair tax”. Wrong on virtually all the issues: anti-choice, pro-constitutional amendments on marriage and abortion, would appoint more Alito/Scalia type justices, no sign he would extract us from Iraq. I won't hold the worst-five-o’clock-shadow-since-Nixon against him, but if I were Charmaine I'd give him an electric razor to use whenever the cameras are pointed the other way!
Less eloquent but sincere, dislikes Bush about as much as Democrats do, history of reaching across the aisle and treating opponents with respect. Gary Hart and Bill Cohen were his groomsmen.
BUT... is VERY conservative on almost all issues, something of a hothead, a war hawk, likely to appoint right wing judges. A record of infidelity in marriage.*
Articulate, slick, well-coifed, strong family values, BUT...
a Mormon (Yes, I know, I’m prejudiced. But a serious Mormon has to reject recorded history). A record of big changes of mind - admirably openminded or shamefully wishy-washy or crassly poll-driven, you pick.
It is hard for me to see any thing good about Guiliani, but I’ll try: he is pro-choice.
BUT... he would be the closest thing to a continuation of the present administration. The Bill of Rights would continue under attack, the country’s reputation would continue to be smeared, we could expect to see more cowboy adventures. A record of blatent infidelity in marriage.*
I think it is good for our democracy in 2008 that we have a strong field of candidates for both parties' nominations and that the nominations are not a foregone conclusion after Iowa and New Hampshire but instead we have a real competitive race. The candidates are having to defend their policies and positions to a big hunk of the country. There have been a LOT of "debates" and though they haven't matched the Lincoln-Douglas debates in depth or style, in the aggregate, they have given those paying attention a pretty good look at these guys.
May the best candidate win in each party.
And, please, may the Democrat win in November.
* I mention this personal failing only because some Republicans actually hold the infidelity of Hillary Clinton’s husband against HER, the one who stood by her husband and worked to save her marriage. Two of the major Republican candidates had notorious affairs and ditched assorted wives.