Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How to show your leadership style by acting like an ass

I don't usually punish myself by watching Presidential candidates debating, at least not this early in the race. The sight of them soundbiting a circuitous route around the questions causes my eyes to roll in such a wide arc as to make me think they will get stuck. So it was more out of happenstance than planning that led me to watch the Dems debate on CNN Monday - but I'm glad I was tuned in because it was a real laugh riot.

OK, perhaps "laugh riot" is not the best description, but it was tons of fun. They started out with a contest to see who could mention "Dr. King" the most times in their first minute (since it was MLK day and all) and I think John Edwards won that segment. Then the moment Obama threw the barb at Hillary about being a corporate lawyer for Wal Mart - snap! - the gloves came off. Next thing, she says BO worked for a slumlord. Then he accused her of ordering the hit on Vince Foster. She told him he should go back to Africa where he belongs. He said "Your mother was a hamster" and she comes back with "Your father smelt of elderberries" and the next thing you know, they both jumped on John Edwards and pantsed him right there on the TV. Edwards was just glad to be remembered.

OK, those last three things might not have happened. I'm not sure because Judge Judy was coming on and I had to switch over, but it was getting a little testy there.

What this tells us is that we've reached the stage of the campaign where the parties start to eat their young. Rather than stay focused on humiliating Bush and the GOP, they are moving on to savage each other, planting negatives in the minds of the voters that the eventual Republican nominee will get to strum like the strings of a harp in the fall. This is classic Democratic politics. By the time you get to the General election, every Democratic nominee is saddled with enough baggage to make a Sherpa whimper.

I find it odd that the Clinton campaign is going negative on Obama so early and so often. I know the experts say negative campaigning works, but most voters say they hate it. And in this case, you have the person who so many people already despise -that's Hillary, if you're slow today - saying these mean things and shooting everybody the stink eye, and that whole approach just seems so much the opposite of good. And on the other hand you have Obama, who is not only tall and handsome but has a rich baritone, which are all useful traits for a President, and people admire him because he could become our first Commander in Chief whose name ends in a vowel. In short, people like him and they don't like her, and there she is giving those on the fence a reason to agree that yes, she is sort of a bitch, isn't she. Makes no sense at all.

Then again, if we start imposing some "making sense" rule on our political processes, well, then where will we be? Gridlock.

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