Sunday, January 06, 2008

US Presidential Debates

Throughout the years I've followed politics more from the corner of my eye than straight on. To me, most candidates for anything are just people who love to hear themselves talk and blow a lot of hot air. There have been a few exceptions, of course, but as a general rule, well, there you have it in my little opinion.

Since I haven't been keeping up too much with the US presidential run until last week, I decided to sit down for the marathon debates last night. If you aren't in the US, both major parties had a debate on the same night in the same place. The Republican candidates debated for 90 minutes first and then the Democrat candidates came out and debated for the next 90 minutes. In the middle they all came to the stage for an interesting photo op. I'm sure photographers were in their glory capturing all the body language going on there.

I'm not going to get into my political views here, but I will say that there is one candidate that I absolutely hate with a passion, one candidate that I want to vote for hands down, but have issues with some decisions in that person's personal life (which might effect how that person could run the country) and others that I just wonder why they are even there.

However, the last question of the night was a pivotal one for me. I wish they'd had more like it for both parties. The last question to the Democrats was something like this, "You have participated in numerous debates with each other up to this point. What is something that you regret saying and wish you could take back?".

Brilliant question! It was a time for these folks to show their human side. A time for them to admit, yes I do make mistakes (because every single person does) AND to show how they handle that mistake. In other words how they presented it to the public. After all, any person who steps into the White House will, inevitably, make some mistake - big or small. They will have to address the mistake at some point and how they do that will sway public opinion and confidence. Oh yea, I couldn't wait to hear their answers.

Clinton was first up and completely disappointed. She didn't answer the question at all! She used the time to get more messaging out about her positions and then ended with that she'd let her opponents discuss her mistakes. Excuse me? That's how you'd handle a mistake in the White House? Complete dud of an answer.

Richardson was next. He was open, honest and had a great response. He'd answered a question about a Supreme Court Justice and, when he researched the person more in-depth later realized that the person was for segregation. He felt terribly about that and wished that he'd thought about his answer more carefully. Mistake? Yes! Huge. Spoke before he had all the facts, but did the research later (ok, an aide probably did) and now admits that he should have had more facts first. Good deal. Honest. I appreciated that.

Obama did a complete cop out like Clinton. Took the same route and even, for the first time in the night, agreed with Clinton to say that he'd let his opponents decide that. Again, complete dud of an answer. Where is the human side?

Edwards was lead into his regret, but I think he was going to say it anyway. He took an 'easy' way out, but nonetheless didn't try to turn it around to talk more about his views. He regretted a comment about Clinton's wardrobe earlier in the campaign and complimented her on her choice last night. Short and to the point - made a mistake and tried to right it (although a little obviously). Again, a human side to the politician.

We all know the candidates are flesh and blood human beings. We all know people make mistakes, but it how they handle those mistakes that matters. I would have liked to see more of that last night. I do think that the Democrats did a better job at showing humanity than the Republicans who were just out to stab each other at any chance they could get. I wished they'd asked them a humanizing question at the end, too.

Yes, the issues are paramount and I want to hear how the candidates feel about all of them. But, I also want a president this time around that I can have at least some confidence in as a person. Part of that confidence is understanding a little bit about them as a person, too. Is it so much to ask to see a human side to these folks, too?

Just a tiny political tidbit this morning. Thanks for stopping by.

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