WHILE I have been away from our local presidentiables (our very own local term), headlined by our election focused media, I have had a share of that from the goings-on in the US presidential race now crowded with would-be candidates. You would think there was a multi-party system like ours from the rising numbers of them. The Republican Party has about 15 and counting. The Democrats have less but with more coming out of the woodwork. The Vice President who is a Democrat and previously conspicuously absent, has just thrown his hat into the race. This will be a quandary for President Obama to choose between his Vice President and his Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton. But he will not be required to “anoint” as primaries and a convention will take that out of his hands officially.
A debate among some Republican candidates is in the offing. Or, I may have missed it. In any case, the buzz about it is taking precedence over foreign affairs, crime, etc. It is that time of the year which is actually more than a year away from the November 2016 Election Day.
Meanwhile like everyone who turns on the television, I have been witness to ads like that of Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, famous for being a central figure in what appeared to be a petty vindictive act against one of his state’s mayors – shutting the mayor’s town from access to the George Washington Bridge causing a chaotic traffic and lifestyle crisis (when you know how vital cars are to the American lifestyle). Christie’s ad says he wants to protect the US from the likes of President Obama (portrayed in a most unflattering photo) who is giving away the country to Iran by way of the US- Iran Nuclear Treaty. Saying something like Obama was a sleazy used-car salesman (a well-known US metaphor for prevarication), he compared him to his hero, Ronald Reagan, who walked away from the table during some treaty negotiation with Russia that would have been disadvantageous and treasonable. This was a direct hit, with dirt flying all around.
John Kasich, an unknown political figure (except to Ohio where he is governor and presumably except his fellow governors) has his own ad showing how he managed the budget for his state well implying that his predecessors did not (a good guess is they were Democrats). This was not a direct hit, just a subtle but telling implication that was as clear as day. Ohio, by the way, is a must-have for a presidential candidate to get to the White House.
Hilary Clinton ‘s ad is a sentimental pitch to the heart. Her mother (photo shown in black and white) was abandoned as a child, worked as a domestic helper, was helped by a teacher and learned to help others in her turn, specially her own family, and that is why Hilary wants to help others. It does touch, being simple and not targeting others. But it seems to be only one part of her campaign. At a convention in Florida with the Republican candidate, Jeb Bush, as the next speaker and present, Hilary attacked his positions on voting rights, immigration, the minimum wage, even using his campaign slogan, Right to Rise, ironically. This was a direct attack with the target in sight. More of the same to be expected from everyone involved.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, with his surreal hairdo (or hair don’t) still takes center stage based on his egotistic personality. He is ahead in the polls over all his fellow Republican candidates. His appeal besides his outsized persona is being blunt-speaking, assailing ALL politicians as just talking and not accomplishing anything they talk about. He claims to be rich, talented, independent and the president the US needs at this time. He does have a way of attracting attention by being bizarre though sometimes the truth comes from him. He recently concocted the term “beg-a-thon” to characterize what other Republican candidates were up to when they flocked to a conference called by the rich and political Koch brothers, who finance candidates who subscribe to their beliefs. The public has always believed the Koch brothers to be conservative, reactionary, and representing big business causes. Though lately they seem to be talking and doing differently by funding inclusive projects like helping poor students, etc. Probably a need to change image or acquired wisdom. Whatever, they are a force in Republican politics.
In other words the coming US presidential election is taking over the media putting foreign affairs, crime, the economy to less attention as volunteers get organized for their respective candidates and start “beg-a-thons” for them. The issues and personalities will now rise over the horizon to center place.
One thing that I find helps put perspective and rationality to the political scene are the late night shows where famous hosts/comedians skewer each and every player in the race to bring him or her down-to-earth for the truth in the issues and the personalities involved.
We have a great sense of humor too when it comes to politics. We should have something like these talk shows instead of our usual talking heads that we have on television supposedly analyzing the scene. A sense of humor will clarify things better.