In this marathon 2008 Presidential primary and national election season, we have been exposed to a lot of candidates and a lot of campaign staffs. Thinking back the candidates fell into certain catagories. These catagories were differentiated by how much the average citizen was attracted to the candidates and how their staffs projected them. Here is my ranking of the candidate catagories.
1. Early in, early out. This group included Chris Dodd, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel, Ducan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson, Sam Brownback, and Jim Gilmore. These candidates announced early, gave a few good speeches, and dropped by the wayside. They were either one issue candidates or were simply too unknown to stir the hearts of a nation. Their campaign staffs stuck pretty much to the basics and acted honorably.
2. A little flash, then the dash. This second group contained John Edwards, Bill Richardson, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson. This group appealed to a national base and chose certain themes that excited narrow interests. Their campaigns searched for ways to differentiate the candidate but in the end it was the amount of money they had raised that determined their early departure.
3. The glorious twins. At opposite ends of the political spectrum, but thoroughly committed to their advocacies, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich represented what is truly great about politics. These two campaigners presented their cases in a straight forward and above board manner. Interestingly Ron Paul struck a chord across a wide spectrum of voters and did so without slamming any opponent. (Ralph Nader could take lessons.) Both candidates simply could not get enough votes.
4. The second best hands. In this next to last group we find two serious contenders who played to special interests while trying to appeal to everyone. Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton ran legitimate campaigns that arguably could have won had either of the presumptive candidates stumbled. In this near “winning” group, however, we see the campaign team departing from who the candidates tried to say they were. Worse, we saw Mike and Hillary stooping to enlarging the truth about themselves and omitting or misleading the truth about their opponents. Lost was the discussion of issues and why they would be able to deliver on their promise, and instead it was why they were a better choice than their opponent.
5. The presumptive candidates. John McCain and Barack Obama are the two left standing. In full glory we now see the campaigns and we must strain to see the candidates themselves. The mud has begun to fly and soon it will be impossible to know which one threw first. Money is still king and the one with the most will have a big advanatage (no surprise). This time around the Democratic candidate will have plenty of money and could outspend McCain.
Having lots of money is necessary but also comes with its own limitations. The major problem is who will decide what image is portrayed for each candidate. You would hope it is the candidate himself but don’t jump too quickly to that conclusion. This is a great test of the commander in chief skills that Obama and McCain possess. Can they keep to the facts and proposed policies, or will they resort to fear and slander?
This is also an important time to listen for signs that either candidate will lack the prerequisite skills to be a chief executive and become a disappointment like George W Bush. Bush looks Presidential in pictures but that is the end of it. He has been unable to select sensible policies, choses fear and division to distract voters, and has been a complete failure at managing the business of Government. We must look carefully at both candidates and select the one who will try to unite all Americans, has policies that fit the US now, and who has the stamina and interest in seeing the work of Government finished.