The overblown dramatics by the Democratic presidential candidates and their spokespersons in the day-to-day primary season have no meaning. One gotcha blends into another within the period of a single news cycle as Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama try to turn flea bites into body-blows. Unless a smoking gun turns up (doubtful), none of it will ultimately matter if for no other reason than voters can’t remember all the trash talk.
The best idea is to ignore the ritual invective, but as a life-long, card-carrying political junkie, Crabby Old Lady is loath to enter rehab. So, while marveling at the pettiness of the peevish affronts and faux indignation from both candidates, she reads and listens for patterns, consistencies and contradictions in the candidates' overall behavior and rhetoric.
So far, Obama has a slight edge for his inclusive “we” to Clinton’s egotistical “I” (Crabby counted 46 in one Clinton speech), but neither candidate has said anything yet that impresses Crabby.
Clinton’s wonky policy proposals are beginning to force Obama into some of his own, but any candidate who gives us a detailed prescription for solving any of the nation’s frightening problems is being disingenuous. Events move quickly in our 21st century world, circumstances can change overnight and no one can predict what they will be in January 2009, or that they won’t be different in February 2009.
Crabby Old Lady is looking for leadership that is skillful, persuasive and flexible, someone who speaks to the terrible troubles we face as a country, and tells us what it will take to fix them which means - yes it’s going to hurt, none of it will be easy and it will involve each citizen as well as government.
Crabby wants to hear those words from candidates – then she will know they have something more to them than personal ambition - a quality necessary to win an election, but which must be left outside the White House door to accomplish anything good.
Candidates can be specific in laying out their goals for the United States without producing 80-page, footnoted position papers that will be outdated by inauguration day. It’s not hard.
Crabby would be heartened to hear Clinton and Obama (and McCain) say:
- the Constitution has been trashed and must be restored
- the U.S. has supported and committed torture and it must end
- the economy has been wrecked by the power elite in both government and corporate America and that greed will stop, regulations will be enforced
- the Iraq War has been a disaster and we need a way out while acknowledging that we bear responsibility for bombing that country back to Ur
- universal healthcare is a human right and we’ll find a way to provide it
- our infrastructure - bridges, roads, water, sewer systems - will be fixed
- No Child Left Behind will be canceled and we’ll figure out how to improve our schools
- unwarranted searches and surveillance of citizens will stop
- there will be no more fooling around about the environment
- a fair solution will be found for immigration
- government ethics legislation will have real teeth
- separation of church and state will be restored
- every last political hack (thousands of them) appointed by the Bush administration to government agencies will be fired, replaced with non-partisan competents
- earmarks will disappear entirely from legislation – let them be properly legislated
- the wealthy elite have had it their way long enough, reaping collective trillions of dollars on the backs of the middle and lower classes and now it is their turn to pay it back
There is so much the candidates could talk about instead of giving exact dates for a pullout from Iraq, bickering over who said what about NAFTA to Canada along with declarations of who is best qualified to take a 3AM phone call. Crabby knows and you know that no one is.
The United States is overflowing with talent and expertise in all the fields of knowledge required to deal with the problems above and the others Crabby didn’t name. Few, when called to serve their government by a president, refuse. These are the people who can craft and implement solutions, and Crabby doesn’t need detailed roadmaps now. She needs to know that the candidates are aware of the problems and intend to do their best to find answers that are fair for the majority of the population regardless of money or position.
Further, it is the candidates who control what the media report. If Clinton, Obama and their spokespersons would consistently speak to the issues above, the media would have no option but to follow along.
Oh, sure, they’d continue polling and reporting the horserace, but far less if the candidates refused those questions, talked about real issues and gave the voters not specific solutions (no one person is smart enough to have all the answers) but a sense of the direction in which they are thinking.
Crabby Old Lady is starving to death on the political equivalent of Britney Lohan news.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lia turns an Afternoon Stroll into a charming story.]