I like to think of myself as being relatively up on what is going on in politics. I have to admit to actually enjoying watching politics from afar. I prefer to watch from afar rather than getting too involved much the way you don’t really mind watching a traffic accident as long as the on-rushing truck isn’t about to hit you or someone you love. Politics seems like a needlessly messy and nasty place to be involved in. For me, much of my naïveté about politics was once and for all destroyed with the election of Rod Blagojevich as governor of Illinois.
For those of you who do not live in Illinois you may not understand just how generally corrupt this state it. I think it emanates from Chicago and just filters into the rest of the political system throughout the state even though the capital is, technically speaking, in Springfield which is somewhere in the middle of the state. The interesting thing to keep in mind about Springfield is that it is a city that seems to have more strip clubs, and therefore strippers, than actual residents.
Anyway, a few years back we had this Republican governor by the name of George Ryan. Mr. Ryan is now heading off to prison because he was so absolutely corrupt even people used to corruption finally put up a hand and said “whoa!” This guy who ran was young and seemed to be full of ideas that sounded great and talked about cleaning up the governor’s office and, for some reason, I bought into it like a bass will buy into that shiny thing floating in the water. I actually voted for the guy.
Turns out he is just as corrupt as Ryan, allegedly. He is still in office and no official charges have been filed against him, but the accusations of patronage and bribery and corruption have been fling at Blago and his people for some time now. Despite his efforts to, for some reason, put books into every child’s home he is still getting no respect. Rod loves to do stuff for kids. Why? Because it is very hard to come out and say your are against something that is for kids. It makes you seem like a monster. You want to bury children in mountains of books even though statistics show that just because a book is in some kid’s home doesn’t mean he or she is more likely to read? Well you go ahead. You’re not going to get me to declare I prefer illiterate and stupid kids.
However, I have once again begun to believe in a politician. Of course I am referring to Illinois Senator Barack Obama. This is a young guy who came out of nowhere during the last round of senatorial elections and, basically, became some kind of political rock star. He completely brought the house down at the Democratic National Convention that time around. Suddenly he is everywhere. He appears to be young, smart and full of ideas. The comparisons to Bobby Kennedy have already been flying. He seems to be tapping into whatever cosmic force the Kennedy’s tapped into despite the fact their family history involved corruption and bootlegging. Maybe it has something to do with having a young face and decent features, I’m not sure.
The popularity of Mr. Obama is such that people are starting to pressure him to run for President in 2008. He is creating a stir everywhere he goes. Other Democratic candidates are starting to cross their arms over their chests and tap their feet. Hilary Clinton smiles at the guy but you just know she is saying horrible things about him behind the scenes. It’s hard not to get caught up in the whole idea that this guy could breeze into the White House and make everything all right again.
However, I am starting to think Mr. Obama should wait. The first reason I think this is for purely selfish ones. He is an Illinois senator. I would kind of like him to stay in the senate for a few more years doing good things for me and my state. I think he may need to build up a bit of a history doing good. Even Bobby Kennedy had built up a history of championing equality and chasing after corruption and facing off against Jimmy Hoffa before he ran. He even served under his brother and was there by his brother’s side during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now those are some impressive credentials. As great as Obama may seem right now all he really has under his belt is an impressive speech. This seems to me to underscore that he can hire impressive speech writers.
Secondly this is supposed to be the time for Hilary Clinton to run. I am not a big Hilary fan, don’t get me wrong, but I do think maybe it’s time for a serious campaign to be mounted by a woman with an actual chance. I have my doubts she can win but you just never know. Somehow Barack running when this should be a great step forward (or backward, depending on your view) for the women’s movement just seems like the wrong move to make. It would be like deliberately stealing the thunder from Mrs. Clinton.
Thirdly it seems like a good bet that Rudy Guiliani is going to run this time around. I honestly can’t imagine a mayor making it as a president but he seems to have this groundswell of support. He also gained national fame due to his toughness and ability to handle things during the 9/11 crisis. I think this may cut through his New York-ness and make him appealing to the conservatives in the south who want someone tough who can at least talk tough about terrorism. That kind of thinking won the last election and it could win this one. I think Barack should run when he stands the best chance of winning and too many people run once, find out it’s hard and then never run again. I guess that sounds like a wimpy statement but I can’t shake the feeling even Obama may not be able to overcome a Rudy campaign.
No, I think Mr. Obama should sit back and watch how this one shakes out. If Guilliani wins and Hilary is sent back to her hole in defeat then he can step in and take control of the reigns of the Democratic Party. In the meantime he can use this time to champion some causes, create a history for himself and do some great things for his constituents. It is tempting to want him to achieve greatness right away but some things need to be nurtured and allowed to grow.
On the other hand, what the hell do I really know about politics? I once predicted that there was no way we would ever enter a war with Iraq and this was back during Gulf War I. Turns out I cannot predict politics very well and, despite enjoying watching politics, don’t know much about it. This probably means I am perfect for public office.