Saturday, January 12, 2008

There once was a guy who ran for president

who was very physically attractive, with a deep, compelling voice. He talked about getting American life back to normal after a war and inspired the people. He won his election handily. He was presidential in appearance, popular and...

...a complete failure as a president, because I'm talking about Warren G. Harding, who ran possibly the most corrupt administration ever, had a girlfriend who extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the Republicans and probably him, and didn't do much else. He died in office and historians still argue about whether he was murdered because his possibly imminent impeachment would have done lots of damage to the Republican party.

Sorry, I'm a little tired of "I *like* this guy. I don't know what he stands for, and he doesn't have much experience, but I *like* him."

Seems to me that's what got us President Bush. (OK, maybe you didn't like him. But a lot of people did.)

So that's why I'm doing the side-by-side issue comparision. Because a candidate's ideas are supposed to matter more than his/her soundbites.

Anyway, will look at the candidates stands on education in a bit. Am also planning to do foreign policy and the economy. If there's a comparision you'd like to see, please feel free to comment about it.



Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I think the advent of the visual media have made us even more inclined to judge by looks. At least when it was mostly newspapers you had to consider what they had to say. Maybe the next new type of communication will swing us back the other way?
As my friend Bob says, "I want my President to be smarter than me."

Stephanie said...

I'd love to read a rundown on their views on health care, if you have time.

Steve Caldwell said...

You're probably right about this -- however, the context for Harding's victory was mostly not being Woodrow Wilson.

President Wilson was venerated in the post WWII political culture. However, we forget that in his time that he was against many popular progressive causes such as women's suffrage and racial equality. And this isn't a matter of judging a past figure by today's standards.

By the standards of 1910-1920, Wilson was a racist and white supremacist.

The first chapter of UU historian James Lowen's book Lies My Teachers Taught Me talks about how high school textbooks revise history so that heroes are portrayed inaccurately.

Wilson's racism and opposition to suffrage are underplayed.

And Helen Keller's commitment to racial equality and socialism are also underplayed.

Steve Caldwell said...

According to UU minister Rev. Debra Haffner's blog, The Religious Institute will be releasing a list of questions that they hope the candidates will answer on a wide range of issues affecting sexual health and sexual rights.

The marriage and family therapist Dr. Marty Klein complained about the Iowa caucus in that no one would ask "will you be the president who gets the government out of my bedroom?"

So perhaps a comparison on sexual health and sexual justice issues is needed here. Good luck getting the candidates to answer these questions.

Comrade Kevin said...

Your comparison is apt in that Harding was elected in response to a previous President who created a vast amount of change in a relatively short amount of time.

The difference between those times and ours is that Bush's changes are seen largely as negative, and thus the voting public is looking for a new direction. Wilson's changes and reforms were viewed suspiciously by the public at large at the time, and there is one crucial difference now as well:

The American people who elected Harding wanted a return to normality, and normality is not what we'd like in 2008. Normality has been associated with the status quo, which is something with which none of us are pleased at the moment.

Still, I do see your point. It is uniformly frustrating when people support anyone based on a minimal solid facts and a maximal amount of presentation not backed by anything solid.