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Too Much Too Soon


It’s only April of 2007 and I’m already burned out and frustrated by the 2008 presidential race, and that’s bad news for the candidates. That $26 million that Senator Clinton is boasting she’s raised? She’ll need it, the leftover $10 million from her New York senatorial campaign, and a pile more if she intends to continue this ridiculous front-runner façade for another eighteen months. Same goes for Senators Obama, Dodd, McCain, John Edwards, Governor Romney, Mayor Giuliani, and the rest of them.

It’s simply too much too soon. I’m a guy who loves the theater of politics, so the fact that I’ve already reached saturation is indicative of one of two things: the race started too soon and has been dominated by meaningless hype, or I’ve already slipped into my curmudgeonly Libertarian funk. Or it could also mean both of those things.

Actually, now that I think about it, it does mean both of those things.

Thus far I know that Obama is a smoker who has taken to chain-chewing Nicorette. I know that Clinton… well, I know she’s already been declared the winner by all the pundits. I know John Edwards’ wife Elizabeth, sadly, has been revisited by cancer. I know that McCain’s eight years older than he was the last time he ran. I know that Romney’s a Mormon. I know Giuliani’s had marital issues. I know Biden is madly waving his arms hoping someone will listen to what he has to say. And, apart for his occasional time on Don Imus’ radio show, I know nothing about Dodd.

None of what I’ve read in the papers and Internet, seen on television, or heard on the radio gives me any clue as to what any of the candidates will do to:

End the war in Iraq, deal with the problems in Iran, stabilize things in Afghanistan, calm things down in Palestine, wean the nation off of foreign oil, stanch the flow of illegal immigrants, bolster the economy for middle class America, cut taxes and federal spending, care for veterans, care for the aging, fix social security, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.

Equally frustrating is that no one seems to care enough to ask any of the candidates about these and a thousand other issues that are weighing on the minds of 300 million American citizens every day. Why is that? Are we so caught up in ourselves that we don’t bother to pay attention until we’re affected personally? Are we so jaded as to our ability to influence the process as a collective of individual voters that we’ve given up on the optimism of democracy?

Does the sound bite really matter more than substantive dialog?

Last November here in Massachusetts we elected a governor whose campaign mantra was “together we can.” Sounded nice enough to enough people that he won overwhelmingly, but no one pressed Deval Patrick to finish the sentence. I’m still not sure what together Massachusetts is going to do, and four months into the new year, I’m not certain Deval Patrick knows. He’s my governor, and I hope his administration makes things better in this state, but that takes specificity, not feel good sloganeering.

Barack Obama, one of the media-declared early favorites in the race has a nice marketing tool on the shelves of bookstores across the country. It’s called “The Audacity of Hope.” It’s a nice sounding title; the kind of tag line that gives folks with short attention spans a good feeling. Apparently a few people have read the book because questions related to the veracity of some of the recollections contained within its pages have surfaced, but those have also faded for the moment.

John Edwards, following the news conference during which he and Elizabeth told the world of the return of his wife’s cancer and the seemingly inevitable denouement of her brave story, has begged people to pay attention to his message and not give him any points for sympathy. Nevertheless, he’s getting better ink in People than anywhere else.

(For those of you paying attention, I stand by my prediction of Edwards’ eventual capture of his party’s presidential nomination.)

Yet, while I’m already burned out and frustrated with the 2008 campaign, there is some good news. I’ve got eighteen months to grouse and carp about the myriad ways that the two dominant parties are ruining the country and the desperate need for a third party to rise up and capture what I hope and pray is a simmering pot of voter angst. I’ve got eighteen months to scream from the rooftops about how the treadmill of incumbency and the insatiable thirst for political power is destroying our beloved democracy. I’ve got eighteen months to vent my spleen over the political theater I claim to love.

Who’s with me?

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 3:45 PM | Permalink

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