Tuesday, January 08, 2008

As They Really Are

You have all met the type of person who wishes to impress upon you his own superiority with a rant that goes something like this:
Tell you what. I think they should take all a'them politicians and put em in a big ole line. Then you get yerself a big ole automatic weapon, and then you just blah, blah blah.
This isn't wisdom. It's FAKE wisdom, otherwise just called cynicism, the belief that everyone else is corrupt, out to serve only themselves, and just no damned good. Maybe you can tell - I have no use for such people.
In fact, I'll prove they are wrong. Here are the REAL lives of some of our current presidential candidates, almost all of them very impressive people who do the astonishing thing of making their lives, souls and values public in order to be judged by the kind of dopes found everywhere. Just the act of running itself amazes me. Anyway, here they are.
Imagine you serve a certain corporation as an attorney, and today you are in court. You are not only not comfortable, you're sweating bullets and dreading the confrontation to come. Why? Representing the other side is John Edwards, a guy who knows his way around a courtroom so well that he's made himself a multimillionaire by representing humble, voiceless people and beating the hell out of people like YOU. You'd better have your "A" game on today, because you KNOW he will.
How does it come to him? Is there a whiff of undervalued assets coming from the numbers on a balance sheet? Is there something to be understood that no one else notices about an aging factory in a near-forgotten community? Is there some undefinable ability to discern truth from lies in what the current bosses are claiming about this company? To Mitt Romney, this type of decision must be as simple as opening a series of doors and just...looking. Sure, he had a head start on the rest of us, but really, how many of us could amass a fortune of nine figures just by making good decisions?
Sure, it was a long time ago, but John McCain, as a captured fighter pilot in North Vietnam, saw and heard things so scary that the prospect of losing an election just doesn't matter much. He doesn't need your agreement on EVERYTHING, and he knows you can't please everyone every time, but there he is, past seventy, able to laugh at himself a little, trying (with some success) to be the latest Comeback Kid. He will admit that he's something of a Senate hot dog, but that's why you run for president, scars and all.
Ambassador, Cabinet-level official (twice), member of Congress and governor. Bill Richardson has been all these things. In the NBA, your go-to guy is the player who has to get the ball when the other plans haven't worked and someone HAS to score. Time after time, Richardson was Bill Clinton's go-to guy in tight situations during the nineties. Now he wants to be our first Hispanic president.
Hillary Clinton wants you to like her, but she can't be gushy or phony or people will feel she's not "tough enough" for the REAL job in the White House. It isn't really fair, but she's not going to complain or whine. She already has performed the miracle of covering up the fact that she has the skin of a African rhino, and needs it just to live from day to day. She hasn't forgotten working as a lawyer to sustain the family when the governor of Arkansas was paid a secretary's wage, or
the combined forces which she called the "vast right wing conspiracy"trying to tear her life apart at any cost. She has taken some blows that would have buckled the knees of a strong man, but she isn't giving up.
What do you do when your city is so complex, so corrupt and so mistrusted in spite of its worldly power that the prospect of ruin isn't just a prospect? You turn to the Boss, Rudy Giuliani, a man who has already gone mano a mano with the Mafia, and promise that things will be done HIS way. The results? There are some bumpy days, but the city of New York overall can say it was well served by this difficult guy who you think might explode any second, but hasn't yet. Does it seem crazy that Pat Robertson endorsed Giuliani, a man with which he would apparently have nothing in common? Whatchagonnadoaboutit, huh? Rudy, it goes without saying, is a results kind of guy. Don't stand in his way.
And so you have it. What voters have to guess, of course, is what kind of problems are going to be prominent in the next four years, and what kind of candidate will make the best president for those problems? Sometimes, thank God, we choose well. No one could have expected Lincoln would have been the leader he was. Sometimes, we choose poorly, as with Harding/Coolidge, who had no idea they were heading the world toward the Great Depression.


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