Under the Sun
Kudos to the candidates for giving voters choices
It is Super Tuesday as I write this, and the cable news channels vibrate with super graphics and fever charts, super maps and troupes of super experts poised for political analysis.
The polls haven't closed yet, but as with the hype before the weekend football game, television rolled out early to cover the primary show, possibly the end of the first act in the comedy-drama that's a presidential election.
At this stage, conflicting predictions dominate the small screen, plenty of "if Obama, then this," "if McCain, then that." By day's end, the candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties will have been chosen. Then again, maybe not.
Whatever the case, the primary election has been the most stimulating and intriguing in years. No incumbent -- thank the heavens for term limits -- had everybody and their aunty in the race, sparking jokes about cattle calls and elbow room on the debate platform.
There were two or three ex-governors who talked too much about vague accomplishments; a couple of long-time senators, one of whom talked too much about everything; an intelligent lawyer whose early start induced media fatigue; a frenzied, kind-of-scary 9/11 mayor; an actor with presidential persona but no script; a lone-voice-for-impeachment congressman and a covey of also-rans.
Most of these guys got little attention and when not being ignored, drew snickering assessments from TV's talking heads and snarky news columnists. Late-night shows poked fun at them, their professional and personal lives (multiple marriages, an adulterous mate, coffee addictions, cola taboos) were dissected and pinned under a microscope.
Incautious statements ricocheted off their foreheads, today's remarks were collated against yesterday's in search of that dreaded political flaw of flip-flopping. All the while, they have to shake hands with money men (aka campaign donors, industry lobbyists and other skid-greasers), smile and wave for the cameras still exuding a proper amount of gravitas, and resist rolling their eyes when the zillionth clueless voter asks unanswerable questions like when will gasoline prices drop below a buck again.
Taken as a whole, the candidate experience begs the question: Why run?
Ego and prestige are the easy answers, but every one of these people also has a desire to do what they think is right. Some may mistakenly believe they have the mettle. Regardless, they all represent a spirit of service, faint as that may have become in this country.
Hillary Clinton's mantra has been that she'll know what to do on "Day One," but I doubt she, Barack Obama, John McCain or Ron Paul will fully understand the burden of the job until they sit in the Oval Office.
There's a massive deficit, spy and law enforcement agencies in flux, health care, a receding economy, eroded privacy rights, a looming energy crisis, immigration and global warming. Overlaying everything are wars -- our own and other conflicts across the world -- and terrorism.
The possibilities for failure are legion and the consequences enormous, as the current White House occupant well knows.
Like them or not, the people who have asked for our votes deserve appreciation. They gave us choices we haven't had in a long time.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org