Letter from the Editor

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The only perfect candidate

It suddenly dawns on me who would be the perfect candidate to be the President of the United States. This candidate has none of the weaknesses of the existing choices. This person has both the wordly experience and the youthful vitality that we are looking for. This person can reach out to both Democrats and Republicans. This person is both a patriot and open to change. This person is a maverick and a powerful public speaker, and man, does this person have the cash to campaign. He knows it all, he's been everywhere. This person is exactly what we are looking for.

This person is...


McBama is a melding of John McCain and Barack Obama - I don't know why I didn't think of this before. With today's DNA technology, surely we can grab a petrie dish and cook up a candidate with all the best attributes of both men.

Either that or we get a balding guy with big ears, a bad temper and a smoking habit, wearing an ill-fitting bike helmet, knocking knuckles and muttering Beach Boys songs in an ugly RV, who we will need to keep in the basement. So my plan isn't quite perfect yet.

My point here is that there is no perfect candidate. Never has been, never will be. Never has a president satisfied nearly everyone. There is no McBama, though if both candidates continue to spin headlong toward the political center like a proton and a neutron in button-down oxfords, they may in fact collide into the same person somewhere around October first, which should trigger the first black hole meltdown phenomenon of American politics.

Predictably, the race is starting to get a tad ugly. The Paris Hilton card has been played. When crunch time arrives, both parties tend to put on the blinders and are willing to see only the worst in each other, and many of their devotees are equally blindly willing to perceive only the best of their side. Logic need not apply, check your independence at the door.

If polls stay close, the temptation to sink into the tar pits of mudslinging and fear-mongering becomes too much to resist no matter how many bright and happy promises were made earlier, and in the wreckage, we leave all candidates as slandered, ridiculed cartoonized versions of themselves, making either's chance of eventually being effective as a president or respectable to the outside world community quite compromised.

Despite what you will see or hear, in fact we are blessed with two pretty amazing human beings as our "finalists" in this race - far from perfect, as are we all, but two visionary, knowledgeable, capable leaders to choose from.

Voters will need to wade through the trash to take an open-eyed look at the differences between McCain and Obama on the issues that matter to them.

And I don't mean the superficial differences the media is fixated upon - age is being played up, as is economic backgrounds, neither much of a predicting factor in character.

Even conservative vs liberal track records aren't the crux of the matter in this showdown, I think. Both men seem capable, at least when they are at their best, of rising above the old partisan gridlock to follow their convictions, and because of that, both are worthy of our respect.

The real difference, as near as I can tell, lies way beneath all of the campaign rhetoric, and at its heart, it is this:

Obama believes in a community model - that if one person will stand up for an idea, another and another will follow, a network will emerge, and progress will be built. His message is one of hope and inclusion and change, and it is a very appealing. It is how he would seek to get things done - community.

McCain is a believer in the individual as the difference-maker - of honor, courage, patriotism. His coalitions are built to each situation. He is allergic to partisan conventions and pressures, and his honesty is very appealing. The individual - that's how he would get things done.

Obama is at his best delivering a passionate speech to a crowd, it seems, while McCain seems most at home in a small town meeting format with some back-and-forth discussion.

Obama will work eloquently to sway others to see an issue his way, McCain will embrace disagreement and air it out.

McCain seems to thrive on unpredictability and flying by the seat of his pants. The New York Times recently quipped that his career to date was similar to flying the attack planes of his past, while if elected, he will suddenly be the guy steering the aircraft carrier. Obama seems utterly organized and thrives in preparation, but he must become ready to act on instinct in crisis.

The reason this election is so passionate is an overwhelming need for true leadership at this moment in history.

These two candidates differ on many issues, still - the war, energy, spending, the environment, to name a few - but the real deal-maker may be their vastly different styles of leadership.

Most voters are crying for a time of non-partisan direction, and the one thing John McCain and Barack Obama have in common is that neither has ever been your conventional political animal.

See past they spin, through the mud. We can't have it all. Soon, we will have to decide, each for ourselves, which half of Citizen McBama will we entrust with our futures?