I’m not uninformed… I’m not undecided… I’m skeptical


Let me put this out there right at the start… the best Republican candidate… the best Democratic candidate… the top two men for the job aren’t on any ballot this year. One of them is campaigning… on behalf of others… and one of them hasn’t been seen too much for a few years.

John McCain.

Bill Bradley.

I’ll start with McCain.

If you had a chance to be your party’s virtually unopposed candidate for president in 2008, would you defect from that affiliation to be a vice presidential candidate for the main opposition party? Well, George Bush is not running for president in 2008. I don’t see Dick Cheney mounting a campaign. And of any Republican option, there is no one even close to John McCain in just about any category… intelligence, integrity, and personality being at the top of the list. Is he a stronger candidate than the current president? I believe he is. But you don’t toss an incumbent to the side. And so, he waits and turns down the overtures.

How about Bradley?

I first became aware of him by reading Dave DeBusschere’s The Open Man perhaps twenty-five years ago. Yes, I know the book is even older than that… I’m not. Bradley has an Ivy League education, is incredibly well-read, and about as methodical, balanced and patient as politicians come. He’s also not the best at energizing voters. Good speaker, though very dry. Brilliant man. I’m confident in calling him a terrific person. Four years ago he failed at generating the support he needed.

Two men. Two solid, strong men that should be respected. Off in the wings.

A few months ago I was reading an article, where I believe comedian Lewis Black was credited for observing that Bush has done everything possible to lose this election. It was hardly an isolated thought. To take advantage of the situation, Kerry was nominated and seems to be making every attempt possible to hand it right back to the Republicans.

All of which I find at times stunning, at times funny, and at times embarrassing. Because I’m not a Republican or a Democrat. Heck, I don’t even consider myself an independent.

I’m a skeptic.

Just over two weeks ago on this site, I wrote an essay called “Why Kerry is about to lose… Or... John Whybother.” And in a way, I’m sorry I did. Not because I’ve changed my mind about any of it. In reality, I may be stronger in my beliefs that it is true. But I think… between the lines… I gave the impression I was voting for Bush. Or worse, that I supported him.

But my point was that in a situation where the options are (1) proven incompetence and (2) potential but probable incompetence, people will gravitate toward putting up with what they already know they can tolerate and not caring at all. Hence my noting of McCain and Bradley earlier… nice to know that there are better options… but they aren’t being made available.

Take a look at the controversy about Dick Cheney’s daughter. When you watch a full segment of comments from John Edwards, when you watch the full segment of comments from John Kerry, and then you review the record of actions by Bush, Cheney, and the Republican Party… you know, the record, the history, the documented actions that Bush is so quick to point out you can’t hide from… well, both sides are idiots. Both sides are wrong.

And I’m more convinced than ever that people just don’t care.

My father and I were talking one night this summer and I mentioned to him that the candidates we have had lately for major political offices, in almost every case, wouldn’t have had a chance to run for office two, three, or more decades ago.

And how about this… after leaving office, I’d wager that most people feel that no former president has even remotely approached the level of generous and gracious efforts that we have seen from Jimmy Carter. How many people view the Carter Presidency as an overwhelming success?

A friend of mine observed that politicians have famous, goofball, idiot brothers. Billy Beer. Roger Clinton. And, in support of the idea that the times have changed while using the example of Bush, the United States in 2000 elected the idiot brother.

But again, who cares?

I’m impressed by some of the “popular” speakers for the Democrats. I went to see Al Franken and Ann Coulter speak one evening, and I thought Coulter was a disgrace. (Produced an essay called “An opinion about A Conversation”.) But that doesn’t always translate to ratings or political success. Screaming does. Ignorance does.

I think it’s fair to say that three of the most well-known and biased Republican voices are Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. Let’s just take a look…

According to his web site, Michael Savage has a doctorate from the University of California. (Yes, I went to his web site. There are few limits to the amount of punishment I will put myself through for you, my readers.) And how does this arguably well-educated individual feel about the world and show his compassion for man? Well… a quote from an article posted on July 7, 2003 on the web site of The Miami Herald: “MSNBC on Monday fired Michael Savage for anti-gay comments. The popular radio talk show host who did a weekend TV show for the cable channel referred to an unidentified caller to his show Saturday as a ‘sodomite’ and said he should ‘get AIDS and die.’” The story was carried in a number of major sources, and is only one of many idiotic and frankly dangerous comments from Savage.

And how about Rush Limbaugh? Never mind… that would be too easy.

Bill O’Reilly has been in the news lately. A sexual harassment law suit. Multiple lawsuits to be specific. Let’s check out some of the comments, shall we? In an article attributed to the Associated Press and found at the MSNBC web site: “If I have to go down, I’m willing to do it. I’m going to take a stand. I’m a big mouth on the air and I’m a big mouth off the air.” He continued by adding that “these people picked the wrong guy.” Where does USA Today place the articles on these lawsuits? On October 20, 2004, when news of yet another counter-complaint-suit-accusation-exchange was released, they placed it in their Life section… or, their entertainment area.

Here’s what I want to know? Has anyone heard O’Reilly say he didn’t do it? I haven’t. Haven’t heard him even come close. “I’m going to take a stand.” “…these people picked the wrong guy.” Stuff like that. Money… extortion… but never that he was wrong, and never that it didn’t happen. In fact… here’s something from that USA Today article of October 20th: “Ronald Green, a lawyer for O’Reilly and Fox… said O’Reilly ‘denies that he has done anything that rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment.’” Phew… that clears things up. When a married man denies that he has done anything “that rises to the level of unlawful sexual harassment” (my italics) you pretty much understand the charges are bogus, right? Of course.

No, no… of course not. The question should be about his initial actions. Heck, as an addition on this, O’Reilly is married. (I didn’t visit O’Reilly’s web site. Didn’t check his marital status with searches. I’m willing to endure a lot of punishment on your behalf, but not that much just to confirm whether or not he has a traditional family home with a traditional wife that understands his alleged traditional phone sex fetish and, to revisit that quote, possibly what his advisors would describe as lawful sexual harassment.)

So before people decide that I don’t care… or that I’ve given in to Bush’s victory… or even after this that I support or will vote for Kerry… understand that none of this was my intent. I’m just tired of people with over-inflated egos and ignorant opinions getting the air time. And I’m equally fed up with candidates that aren’t qualified for the positions they want, saying anything they can to get votes. The funny thing is, perhaps Groucho Marx was right. To mildly adjust his comments about a country club membership… I wouldn’t want anyone as my president that actually wants the job.

Or, as I recall a teacher once saying in high school… Anyone smart enough to be a good president isn’t dumb enough to take the job.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com