Monday, February 4, 2008

Super Monday

Taking a break from the Twins to reflect on some of the other momentous goings-on in America.

First of all, grudging congratulations to the Giants, who made it a far better Super Bowl than I expected. Eli Manning has earned some respect. The play where he slipped out from under 3 would-be sackers and hurled it downfield to David Tyree, who made a sensational catch off his helmet, will go down as one of the classic moments in Super Bowl history. Those are the kinds of spectacular, game-changing individual efforts that make even Giants-haters jump off the couch and applaud. They are the efforts that make champions. Hard-fought and well-deserved!

The group I was in was mostly disappointed with the commercials. I thought the Tide spot with the talking stain was the best. Barkley stalking Wade with his T-Moblie Fav 5 was a pretty amusing culmination to that campaign. Loved all the stunt work in the Planters spot. Otherwise, I found most of the commercials either nonsensical, or unnecessarily gross (I don't want to see a heart jump out of someone's chest - I'm eating here!).

Tomorrow is election day in CA, as it is in about half the country. As an independent in one of the most consistently blue states in the country, I can expect to see California's 55 electoral votes (or about 20% needed to win the presidency) go to the winner of the Democratic primary. Luckily, independents have been invited to participate (not by the Republicans though - boo!), so tomorrow is my most realistic opportunity to help determine who will be president this fall.

Let me first express my disappointment with the structure of the primary system. I would have liked the opportunity to vote for Bill Richardson, an actual government executive with substantial foreign policy experience. I might have liked to vote for John Edwards, whose unflagging support of the poor and working class was a welcome antidote to the relentless support of the rich and corporate interests shown by Washington over the last several years. Probably his policies would have been too one-sided and not ultimately the best thing for the country, but his was a good voice to have in the race. To say nothing of Dodd, Biden, and even Kucinich.

But despite the fact that the state of California moved its primary schedule up dramatically, all of these candidates have already fallen by the wayside. Too difficult for most of them to raise funds after poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, two of the least diverse states in the country. The primary system needs to be retooled to allow all the states the opportunity to weigh in on all the candidates - Iowa and New Hampshire don't always make the best choices! Given the flaws, I'm thankful that at least 2 candidates remain on the Democratic side, and 4 for the Republicans. Tomorrow will be a very meaningful day for both sides.

So my choice comes down to this: would I rather see Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama get 20% of the votes they need for election from my state?

Ultimately, it's not a difficult choice.

Ever since November 2002, when I was watching the election returns on MSNBC, and Chris Matthews rather jubilantly predicted that it would be Clinton vs. Jeb Bush in 2008, I've been working against that scenario as actively as I can. Jeb Bush wisely decided that his family name wasn't so valuable any more and stayed home. But here is Hillary. Why? Are there only two families in this country capable of producing a president? I believe in variety, spreading the wealth. If the Twins were playing the Cubs in the World Series, part of me would actually feel good if the Cubs won (well, I've already enjoyed 2 Championships in my lifetime). That so much of America seems locked into this little Clinton/Bush box is abhorrent to me.

And furthermore, she just rubs a ton of people the wrong way. When we were talking about the candidates last fall, my sweet, 83-year-old grandmother went off on Hillary with a burst of venom I imagine hasn't passed her lips since the days of Joseph Stalin. It struck me as very irrational to hate Clinton so much, but the feeling is real, and she's not the only one who has it. It seems like the only candidate this year who can unite the Republican Party is Hillary Clinton. Understanding that, I don't see why she has as much support as she does.

I'm going with Obama. Not only is he inspiring multitudes of young people to participate in their government (something essential to the future health of the nation), but he has a political style that I believe will bring results. He's not the most liberal guy in the world; he's made compromises with the other party, as well as with corporate America. He's going to do things as President that will really disappoint the left, but that will please the center, and hopefully not completely infuriate the right. I see him as the sort of guy who could get his sponsored legislation passed with 70% of congress behind it, instead of the bearest majority on party lines. Hopefully, he can make Washington a less partisan place, and that would be very good for the country.

Finally, tomorrow is Mardi Gras. Has their ever been another day in American History in which the people were expected to show both civic responsibility and debauchery?

Gotta love this country!

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