Note to my fair readers (both of you, bless your hearts) – this is not a political blog and, as mentioned, I did vote for Ross Perot not once, but twice, to prove my independent chops, and, hopefully, the below is close to fair and balanced. The way I see it is if you’re going to proclaim to pontificate about media, you can’t not say these things at this juncture (it wouldn’t be prudent), so say them, I will. This has been bubbling up in me for a week or so and was set free when my lovely wife asked about half way through the debate, “Why are we even watching this? They’re not saying anything.” And she got up, left the room, the dog in tow. God, I love her…
On with it, then.
Bob Parr (i.e. Mr Incredible) has just come home from a bad day at work – he has lost his job – and just slammed the door of his car and sees a kid on a tricycle looking at him: What are you waiting for?
Kid on tricycle: I don’t know. Something amazing, I guess.
Bob Parr: Me, too, kid. Me, too.
Leadership and a clear vision, my friends, is what we need. That would, indeed, be something amazing. I wish one of the candidates had articulated a 60 second response against any of those questions last night in a way that (a) actually answered the question and (b) helped me grasp their vision. In my non-partisan eyes, it didn’t happen. To that end, some of my thoughts.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems
McCain’s concept of a spending freeze appeals to me at some level. The thing I’ve never been able to figure out about our government is why and how they are able to spend that which they do not have, and why they feel that I am willing to fund their willingness to spend that which they do not have because they don’t have it until they get it from me. Imagine running a business like that, say, a financial company, where you willingly push people into debt so you can capitalize (ooo, now there’s an interesting word) on it. Wait…
This here financial crisis is starting to feel like karma coming around. Those in the financial community seemed to be taking cues from Washington when you think about it. And now look whose left w/ the check – us, the American people.
Perhaps this across the board spending freeze is, in Obama’s words, a ‘hatchet’, but when we’re talking double and triple digit TRILLIONS of dollars, can the ‘scalpel’ he wants to use to fix it do much more than give a paper cut? This seems to call for large strategic measures, not tactical ones (and I think Obama showed a good grasp of the difference between those in the first debate). I’d even say what we really need to do is re-define our objectives if we’re going to truly fix the problems. Maybe start by using the money received from Fannie and Freddie for the campaign as the initial deposit on fixing the problem.
When Everyone’s Special, No One’s Special
For those keeping score on Twitter or at home, that’s two Incredibles’ references. It’s a favorite of my two year old right now. And, really, in light of the fact that all you needed to know you learned in kindergarten (or before), kids movies usually provide more perspective in ten minutes than 3 hours of Oliver Stone quasi-politico-biopic. Back to the orginal programming…
I can’t specifically recall the three things Brokaw asked the candidates to prioritize, and frankly, though important long term, in the confines of a debate and a candidate’s ability to sway undecided voters, it’s not. The action of showing the ability to prioritize is. What I do recall is Obama was the only one who did so. Vision and leadership is making choices, bringing order to chaos (or at least successfully navigating chaos towards the greater good), realizing that you have to take things one at a time while understanding how they interconnect and influence each other. Obama did a good job of (relatively) succinctly showing how he’d prioritize and addressing how each thing relates to the other and how ordered decisions allowed benefits and solid foundation for decisions yet to be made.
McCain says we can do everything at once by sitting down at the table and hashing it out. He says everyone knows the solutions to these things and if he orchestrates a big ol’ chat of his buds in Washington on both sides of the aisle, we can knock these huge problems out like nothing.
(If everyone – and by everyone I’m assuming it’s everyone in Washington – knows the solutions and McCain’s been in national office for 20+ years making him a card carrying, secret handshake knowing member of everyone, why has nothing been done to move us towards solutions? I’m really thinking that the American public is feeling the need to punish “The Establishment” for what’s gone on the past few weeks, so if experience in Washington is your calling card, not sure if folks are buying what you’re selling.)
I have this really fresh memory of Nancy Pelosi – she’s the speaker of that pesky other part of the legislative branch John isn’t in – having a little press conference after being handed the senate’s version of the bailout before it was voted on and unceremoniously cutting off nose to spite face. And we went another week w/o resolution on a relatively large piece of legislation that, as it turns out, was really important to the whole world.
Opinions are like a certain orifice – everyone has one. And a big ol’ table full of senators talking about 3 gigantic issues all at once adds up to the largest gas cloud ever produced (apologies for the crassness, but I think its an effective analogy). Especially when someone somewhere down the line will play party politics w/ the polarizing issues that need to be addressed. Especially if you’ve ever watched hearings of our fair congress talking about ONE issue at a time, even ancillary and minor issues like steroids in professional sports. A big table full of Washington lawmakers does not equal prioritization even on the finer points of one topic, let alone 3 gigantic issues.
Apparently, “Trust” is a 4-letter Word in Washington
“How can we trust you?” Wow, that was a freaking awesome question to put out there in person right in front of the two candidates. I will vote for that lady for whatever she wants to run for – PTA President, County Commissioner, Hockey Mom of the Year, whatever.
What a phenomenal opportunity for a Bill Clinton-esque biting of the bottom lip, small shake of the head, appearing to be on the verge of one, solitary tear tracing down the cheek, exuding “I feel your pain” but not saying that, instead, quite simply, saying, “I’m sorry. I failed you. Here is what I’m going to do to secure your trust. Please keep me honest.”
Instead, we got to hear how both candidates understand why we electorate are cynical and angry – great words to use to make us trust you in light of the fact that we are, indeed, cyncial and angry…oh, and bitter, you forgot bitter this time – and then a wonderful soft shoe that led us around the dance floor of why the other guy can’t be trusted.
I was wishing instead of being time cop, Brokaw would’ve piped up w/, “Um, guys, the question was how can we trust YOU – Y-O-U – as in what about you makes you worthy of hundreds of millions of people willing to bank the next four years of our country’s future on you? You have 60 seconds that you agreed to as a rule so keep in mind if you can’t follow your own rules, that may seem un-trustworthy. Go.”
I can’t recall the chronology of what was discussed in the debate, but at this point I started to pay a lot less attention, and my mind wandered to the Chicago Cubs.
After 100 Years of the Same Thing, I’m Not Sure I Can Trust The Cubs Anymore
I have been a pathetically loyal, ridiculously glass half full, willingly wait til next year Chicago Cubs fan. If you are unaware, the Cubs have not won a World Series in 100 years, and that last one in 1908 was the third in a row – a dynasty in the early days of the 20th century. Then a local bar owner wanted to attend a World Series game at Wrigley Field some years later – w/ his billy goat. He was unceremoniously removed from the premisis, and placed a curse on the team that they would never return to the World Series. The dreaded “Billy Goat Curse.”
The Cubs won the most games this season in the National League. They did this in spite of recurring injuries with many of their key players. They did this with a swagger among their pitching staff – a historical weakness for the team – picking up the slack when the offense was weakened due to injury, and even when key pitchers were injured. They did this w/ key role players playing key roles at key times when called upon. They perservered, played like a team, expected much of themselves, understood that the priority was today’s game in a season of 162 games. And they were successful. Everyone knew these were the things they needed to do to be successful and assumed at the most key time – the post-season – these things would not be lost.
A couple innings into their first post-season game, they ran into a rough patch and decided to curl up in the fetal position and suck their thumbs until the Dodgers were done spanking them. 100 years of futility will turn to 101.
What the hell happened? Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve been ticked off and frustrated and angry about this kind of thing my whole life. What I would greatly appreciate is for Lou Pinella, the manager, the leader of the team, to bite his lip, shake his head, appear that he’s about to cry, show that he feels my pain, then simply say, “”I’m sorry. I failed you. Here is what I’m going to do to secure your trust. Please keep me honest.”