Uh... oh... blogging landmine... politics...

My header on GCP.net mentions I'd blog about issues facing the Gulf Coast. In the wake of Katrina, I felt that I wanted to touch on some things like that. In fact it used to say "politics" rather than issues facing the gulf coast and today, I warily will broach that subject. Politics and poker are hardly strange bedfellows.

Most politicos, Obama included, are avid poker players. It is said Nixon ultimately jump started his life and later funded his campaign based off of money grown from poker winnings. Currently poker is a political issue, perhaps things are in such a sad state of affairs poker players may not have the latitude to vote on candidates supporting issues important to us such as legalizing online poker, bar-room poker, or home games, but it's important we be aware where our candidates from President to representative sit on these issues.

Therefore, I'm going to get political for a second, and not really feel bad about doing it. More than anything I'm stating my views, undecided views in fact, with the hope that people that feel strongly one way or the other will try and convince me to side with them. It's important that I give my quick background and incoming biases. As a kid to a young adult I've been a Republican. I've admired Reagan's approach to dealing with Terrorists and look at Libya as evidence of force working... when properly applied. Perhaps I'm a mere victim of conservative spin, but national security, having lived in DC during 9/11 and in Europe during a tumultuous time of terrorism in the 80s, has always been issue number one with me.

I was a mile away from the Pentagon when the low-flying plane coming directly overhead shook my apartment so badly things fell off the shelf, and I felt the concussive impact when it hit and heard the blast. I can recant with first-hand experience any conspiracy theorist who doubts a plane really hit. I also watched the aftermath with my own two eyes. I've been at German airports during bomb scares as a child.

I used to live within a short drive of the actual Iron Curtain at the height of the cold war, and could feel the reds leaning against it every day. Western Europe lived under a palpable fear they'd be trampled and though they hated to be in the middle of the nuclear stockpiles in Russia and Stateside, they welcomed, loved and relished our friendship. We were their protectors. Oh what a difference 20 years makes.

I watched television of Russian Army marches with an endless supply of giant missiles (missiles we'd later learn were duds) and think any moment the world would be dotted with mushroom clouds. Germans, who lived in an occupied country for 40 years, appreciated their occupiers us and the Brits being there, because at any moment the tanks might start rolling westward. To say we had some goodwill in the 80s is an understatement. And to say, you can't be an ally as an occupier is just as gross an overstatement.

So, to me national security and keeping terrorists and ill-meaning nationalities an ocean away has always been priority number 1. I lived in a place where the evening news reported terrorism it as a domestic issue and rather than it being a once every ten years event it was a weekly one. Not something I want the U.S. to endure. Then W got elected, moreso because his opponents couldn't handle a national campaign then him being the best candidate. Sorry Kerry fans even four more years of W to me was better than four years of the ultimate hemmer and hawer. Course, sprinkle in Katrina and the mess that Bush turned FEMA into, and maybe Kerry would have done a better job.

I always felt that 911, Bush in New York on the megaphone and the ensuing we are going to stick a boot up the Taliban's ass speech to Congress were the moments, he shined brightest. I couldn't imagine Gore at the helm for either moment. During Katrina, I also couldn't help but wonder if a new President would have tackled Katrina like it was his 9-11. Kerry, or anybody for that matter, probably would have been in the heart of the Gulf Coast or at the Superdome within 24 hours and wrapped his Presidency around saving the coast. Bush didn't need that. He had already had his moment. He wasn't coming with his megaphone, and only after he had been humbled into responding his speech was full of promises that for the most part were empty. It's absolutely shocking considering the mess still down here three years later, that he thinks he did all he could. He thinks he triumphed in the gulf and the sad truth is he was almost criminally negligent.

The ensuing federal debacle, the state debacle, the city debacle, left blood on every one's hands. Anybody who tries to excuse Bush, Blanco, or Nagin is blinded by partisanship or worse. They were all culpable. Michael Chertoff used Brownie as a scapegoat. Though Brownie was terrible, Chertoff was worse and like Bush somehow has eluded the blame he deserves. Every level and layer of the executive has been inept. Every response has been insufficient and inadequate.

So, I became a right-leaning Conservative with a distaste for the W and his cronyism in the executive branch. He also acted like a democrat and grew the government to the benefit of him and his friends at unheard of levels. He mired us in bureaucracy at a moment we needed anything but. Of course Blanco is responsible for not seeking federal aid quicker, of course Nagin and his talk about "putting Benjamins in your pockets" was exposed as inept and a blight on the city rather than a leader, but Bush also bares blame--a lot of it.

Therefore, even before this economic crisis I came into the national presidential election with an even more open mind then I did four years ago. I now label myself an undecided. I'm leaning toward McCain, with Obama's inexperience being my hold-up on giving the other side a shot, and of course McCain to me feels stronger on National Security. That is still, my primary concern shaped by my childhood, even with all the homeland mess Bush has made while pushing Homeland issues.

I've debated though emails and discussions with hard line Democrats and Republicans alike challenging them on what I perceive as weakness of their candidates. In response, I've learned how charged a society we now live in. Neither side can withstand the slightest criticism, or can concede even an inch. It was like pulling teeth to get my good friend, a democrat to admit, Pelosi's partisan speech preceding the bailout was ill-timed at best. I can't get Republicans to admit that while Palin has executive experience it's for a town and state that population wise measure up to Smallville and Luxembourg.

Recently, after a series of emails and Palin's blunders with Katie Couric, I'd been swayed that with one year of her at the helm of our country she could do such terrible things to us due to her inexperience and community college level education I might have to factor her into my decision. Should McCain press down on his "I've fallen and I can't get up" life alert lapel button what the hell were we going to do with a sportscaster as President. She wasn't even a good sportscaster. At least Al Michaels has seen Russians close up, and not from binoculars across the Bering Straits, maybe he should be second in command. He believes in miracles too.

Palin to me is a bad Disney movie playing out on our national stage. I immediately questioned McCain and his judgment when he selected her. To me he was guilty of catering to the Hillary voters who felt abandoned by Obama. It was arguably a shrewd political move, but for somebody who is un-taintably a patriot, there was a taint to him now. Palin, no matter how she moves people or connects with people, is not the best person for the job. She ironically embodies all the flaws of Obama with half the education. McCain's decision was not made with the countries interest in mind it was for his electability and nothing more.

So, it was with great surprise that I watched her at the Republican National Convention knock it out of the park. Not only did she share Obama's flaws she shared his attributes. They both are soaring speakers, they both reach through the camera and pat you on the back as they plow through talking points. Their charms are manifested differently his with inspiration her with a neighbourly I'm watching out for you but they resonate.

At that point, I gave McCain a little more credit for his pick. He had found this unpolished jewel from the great north and shared it with the country. This wasn't a bad Disney movie this was the political story of the new century. We didn't have one leader from humble beginnings, we had two. It was like Lincoln coming out of his log cabin in Illinois at the same time as an upstart (and at the time marginalized minority) Irish Catholic from Massachusetts named Kennedy. We had two near political stars.

Then Couric happened. Oh, Sweet Alaskan Crude Oil!

I now watched Republicans blindly hug talking points force fed them via Fox news, to defend the indefensible. The tape was obvious. You can't defend her. Karl Rove surely came up with the sublime "Gotcha" media refrain that has been oft-repeated and it's brilliant strategy. She was "edited" to look like an idiot. It was the liberal media's fault. Now, the media is liberal, but Palin looked unprepared... because she was unprepared. Gotcha was right. The sportscaster was back. No longer was the Disney movie a happy story, we'd reached the point where the lawyer turns back into the shaggy dog, where the heroic underdog is exposed as being over her head.

Bam! I was now having to consider Erin Andrews at the controls should McCain bite it. Something to look at sure, but something to follow--not so sure. I compared the two worst case scenarios and Obama could be bad for four years but at least he's smart enough to not destroy the country. Could Putin bury Palin in a matter of hours? If the equally woefully under qualified Katie Couric could cast such a bad light on the Veep to be, what could a ruthless former KGBer do.

I watched last night's debate with the dread I felt as a school-boy of the millions of Russians ready to invade Europe. Palin was going to get thrashed. Biden would dance circles around her and they'd have to shovel the Alaskan Caribou roadkill off the stage along with McCain's hopes. You ask die hard democrats and that's what happened. You ask die hard Republicans and she blithely killed Biden time and time again. She was Rocky after a standing eight count suddenly, tirelessly bashing a superior opponent when her face had been beaten to a comic pulp one round earlier with Couric.

You ask me, a now undecided, and neither side is right. She might have done enough. The debate was either a Palin victory or a tie. However, expectations were so low for her, she'd win even if she lost but competed and she did better than that.

That being said, I'm still undecided and in a paragraph or two I'll wrap up and welcome the opinions of my decided friends. However, I do ask that you not take me to task on my opinions up to now. They are not going to change. Even if you disagree with what's written, I don't write them as fact, I write them as decided opinion. Here's another opinion. Palin did two things. One she showed me as deflected questions and marched through her talking points she'd be one of the greatest White House... spokesmen ever. Ari Fleischer, Tony Snow, etc. etc. wouldn't hold a candle to her.

She was charming even Joe Biden when she barreled through his criticisms with a wink and a smile and tiptoed around or bludgeoned over Gwen Ifill's direction. She owned the debate, she connected with the people, and shined. That being said, the second thing she did was not look look Presidential or Vice-Presidential. She looked like a polished TV personality yet I have to ask where is the substance. How many times have I heard an articulate media type give their own opinion outside of scripted lines or prepared talking points and be disappointed? Every time. Sure she looks less inept, but still inept?

However, the marked difference in one short week, has given me the confidence that she can hold her own for a year or two if McCain doesn't make it. But I'm still undecided overall. She failed in one critical question for me. She was asked what would be her duties as a vice-president be, and her response was odd to say it lightly... I can almost imagine McCain "Lumberg-esquely" (Office Space reference) saying, "Ummmm, yeah... You are going to play more of a legislative role than an executive role..." "Doesn't the VP just break ties in the senate?" "Ummm, yeah, wait... how did YOU know that...ummm, yeah... well, you see there is more power for the VP or at least some flexibility of the VP's power in the Senate than traditonally... ummm, recognized... so umm yeah... we are going to move you to the office in the basement..." "Basement?" "ummm yeah, so ummm, yeah they are near the tunnels to the Senate and ummm, yeah we are going to need you to come in on Saturday."

So now, I ask of my friends to take my vote for your candidate. I'm hardheaded, so you won't convince me Palin did poorly in the debate and sway me as a voter that way. You also won't win me by disproving then things I think above. Took me a while to come to this point of indecision, and you can argue til you are blue in the face I'm wrong about Obama's inexperience, but it'll be an ineffectual tactic in getting me to align with your side. What I will want is valid reasons Obama will be a better President than McCain or vice versa. I will want issues that either embodies that I should take as seriously as I do national defense. I will need coaxing that Obama despite his safe and near nonexistent policy making leadership in the senate will MOVE the country as well as he moves his listeners and followers.

I've felt this election is between motivational speaker Tony Robbins and crotchety Mr. Wilson. One who says things we want to hear but really has no concrete formula how to get there, the Robbins of the two says, personal empowerment, bettering oneself will make you successful, procrastinate only procrastination and other platitudes that soar as rhetoric but fail in application. Obama's message is pure of course we want that but what's at the heart of his plan? The other is a Washington insider who is a maverick only on selected issues. He's cranky and he'll fight his neighbors even if they are friends if their sprinklers are interrupting his hammock nap and will beat the snap out of the whippersnappers digging in his flower beds but is he too, now entrenched?

Please, please, convince me I'm not picking between the lesser of two evils once again. I feel one guy hasn't hit his stride and the other is past his prime. Neither is in the sweet spot. Democrats convince me Obama is good for national security and the economy, Republicans convince me it's not business as usual or a man past his prime, and we won't see a replay of Katrina ineptitude.

Or not.

I'm open to the possibility I'm grossly wrong or I've mistated thing badly and I'm uniformed, however, if you want to woo a vote, take my experiences and mold your candidate to my worldview. And don't take yourself too seriously, negative points for absolutists, facists, and rabid polarizers.

www.gulfcoastpoker.net


Comments

Goondingy said…
Ahhh, go with Obama...if he makes that change thing happen as he has stated. We win. If he fails, look out, the GOP will get someone in there after the first four and YES, this nation will be back on point at that time. Do not get it twisted, registered republican here and I am not for Obama, but McCain has not convinced me yet.

Stay Frosty!
Anonymous said…
All elections let you choose the lesser of two evils. Presidential elections make the choice painfully clear, while others are a bit fuzzy.

Anyone with the ego strength to believe they can lead and govern will be arrogant and self serving. They only get into the race by 1)reshaping themselves into the image the gets votes and by 2)believing that they are at the core unchanged. They become what people want them to be and people elect them. Obama invites you to write your hopes into his promises. McCain will kill the dragons the scare you, whatever that is.

Politicians must get elected to do anything. Perhaps they had ideals and an agenda once, but that was bartered for votes on the pretext that they must get elected to do anything. Look at Obama's history. Look at McCain's history.

That brings us full circle and all that is left of a politician is an inflated ego. No wonder politicians are elitist, above the law--they make the law--and disdainful of the electorate.

As an old friend advised me years ago: "Throw the bums out!" Anyone that has been in power for more than four years is in it for ego and the money he believes he deserves. They take your money, provide for themselves (look at congressional perks and benefits), and promise to take someone else's money and give it to you, if you vote for them.

Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are a deadly combination. With Pelosi and Reid assured of a majority, perhaps we are better off not having rubber-stamp Obama as President. Since Obama and McCain are fundamentally the same, just ideologcally different, McCain as a counter to Pelosi and Reid is preferable as a practical matter

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