Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Skating away on the thin ice of a new day

It's morning in America, and the people have spoken. They want four more years of George W. Bush, and so, by cracky, that's what they'll get. The Peter Principle is alive and well in the heartland.

If you're looking for hand-wringing and outrage, you'll not find it here. Am I disappointed that we as a nation have condemned ourselves to another term of a presidency I believe has failed in every conceivable aspect? Sure. But in case you hadn't noticed, the sun did rise this morning. The good Lord willing, it will do the same every morning for the next four years. As historians and social scientists wiser than I have noted many times, people tend to acquire the leadership they deserve, or at the very least, the leadership they're willing to tolerate. If George W. Bush is the leader we are willing to tolerate, then he's the leader we deserve.

The unfortunate fact of this whole sorry business is that, for whatever reason, the Democrats have a singularly difficult time creating exciting Presidential candidates. I thought, and think still, that either Al Gore or John Kerry would have made better Presidential timber than Bush. But let's face it -- neither Gore nor Kerry is the most scintillating guy ever offered to the public. (Both remind me of the guy in that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode who's the galaxy's foremost cocktail party bore, and Data follows him around in an attempt to learn the art of making innocuous small talk.) I'm not saying that personality is everything, but the reality is that people vote for personality more than any other single quality -- the "Cool Guy" factor, as I've explained before. Until the Dems can come up with a candidate who is both competent and cool -- for lack of a better example, another Bill Clinton -- they will continue to find themselves sucking hind teat. Bush's pseudo-rustic redneck chic leaves me cold; but then, I can't stand mullets, NASCAR racing, or honky-tonk music either. But the reality is, that cowboy-slash-Alfred E. Neumann act does resonate with a lot of folks, and they vote. Which is why we are where we are.

Is newly elected Illinois Senator Barack Obama the future of the Democratic Party? I can't say, but he's the kind of electrifying personality the party has to (a) find and (b) promote in order to get people excited about voting Democratic again. Am I saying that it's not about positions and policies and issues? Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. I'd wager that 85 percent of the people who voted for either Bush or Kerry couldn't tell you what their man's specific position is on the overwhelming majority of issues, and of the remaining 15 percent, half of them would be wrong about what they think those positions are. When the little curtain on the voting booth closes, people always arrive at the same place: Which person do I like the most? Which person do I think is most like me? The question is less "Who will make the best leader of the free world?" and more "Who would I rather hang with on Saturday night?"

Anyhow, the die is cast, the deal is done, and we move on. I can only hope we have less cause to regret the second term of Bush 43 than we have the first. For the sake of my daughter, who will turn 18 during this half of the Bush administration, I pray that we will.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

At last. Someone had a sensible reaction to the presidency. We'll deal with the future when it arrives. Right now, the sun's rising and so are we to get to work....

9:06 AM  

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