Saturday, January 19, 2008

NH Primary Last Thoughts (for now)

I know the NH Primary election is now ancient history. Even so, I want to comment a bit on my experience.

First, there was NO complaining this year about the lack of choice among the candidates. It seemed clear to me that there was something for everybody to choose from. Of course, not all of it ends up landing on one candidate. I suspect most republican voters would prefer, if they could, to take a little of John McCain’s heart, Huckabee’s mouth, Fred thompson’s voicebox (love that man’s voice), Romney’s head (including the hair), and various body parts to make a whole candidate. Stitch on various parts from Ron Paul and other lesser candidates. Of course the choice of body parts may vary voter to voter. Democrats would select similarly from their own vivisectional inventory. In spite of this tendency to want what we can’t really have, there was a lot to choose from.

Second, for all the bluster about what lousy idea it is to have NH set the tone for the primary elections, it didn’t seem to make much difference. It seems that Super Duper Tuesday is going to have the main word after all. The candidates are basically trading blows from state to state. I can’t wait to see what the convention is going to look like. I suspect there is going to be a lot of back room dealing. Not that that’s a bad thing necessarily.

Third, I noticed how many of the candidates can actually talk. I mean really talk. I must say that after 8 years of listening to the stammering and groping of GWB, a bit of skilled oratory is refreshing. Really. As a man who makes his living from words, and from speaking in particular, I really do admire someone who can form a coherent thought of his own, shaping it with eloquence and delivering it with not only conviction, but a certain degree of flair. I won’t vote for Obama, but I love to listen to the man talk. Romney is reasonably competent. Huckabee is surprisingly good. I have not seen him addressing large crowds, but I suspect that he can hold his own with Obama, although stylistically quite different. Even ex tempore Huckabee’s language is clear, concise and flowing. I find Hillary to be a competent speaker in a rather formal bureaucratic way – I’m not saying she isn’t genuine. She just comes across more like the disciplined, somewhat uptight, class valedictorian rather than the guy who MC’s the talent show. She expresses herself clearly, but without that indefinable vibe that inspires. My biggest surprise is McCain. He was my second choice for my vote, but I was surprised to see him using note cards, and stuttering a bit on his remarks. I expected a few less rough edges. Even so, what showed through is his lion’s heart. I like that.

Charisma is certainly not sufficient grounds for a vote in and of itself. Yet, without charisma, competence is impotent. The President does not operate in a vacuum. He must get things done with, through and by others. If he can’t get others to follow his lead, then he cannot lead. Of course, charisma without competence is just so much wind in the branches. It may make the leaves flutter, but the tree is staying right where it is.

I was surpised the Hillary took the Democratic ballot. That morning, I had opportunity to drive across the state on business. My route took me through several towns and cities, ranging from 20,000 to about 4000 in population. Obama had supporters waving signs at most major in town cross roads. Even in Alton and Meredith...not known as huge urban centers. No one else had that kind of physical presence. I figured then that Obama was going to take it. Just shows I'm not much of a political analyst. Then again, maybe it shows that I'm just as good as those clowns on TV.

I always cast my vote with a bit of a prayer along the lines of “I hope I’m doing the right thing.” I am only too aware of how much I don’t know to vote with any real confidence. Nevertheless, as with most of life, I’ve seldom let my ignorance get in the way of shooting my mouth off.

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