Thursday, April 17, 2008

two different issues...

I think this is a bad time for a local political scandal to break, right before the presidential primary. It’s come out that Pat Ford met with executives of another billboard company (Liberty Pacific Media, not Lamar) in 2006, and that their understanding was that he agreed to allow them to set up two new billboards, one downtown and one on the north side, both without the public hearing process, even though city code stated bill boards could not be put in those locations. They met on Mt Washington (where I never go anymore). Mayor Ravenstahl apparently put in an appearance at that meeting, although he now says he does not remember discussing bill boards, especially on the north side or downtown. Those two executives from Liberty Pacific donated $12,500 each to Mayor Ravenstahl’s reelection campaign a month later. The billboards went up, were sold to a different media company, and then came down. Granted, this would have likely come out soon, but I can’t help but think that Mr. Ford’s loud protest of having been framed on Monday likely sped the media’s investigation along (as I suggested might happen in my previous post). Now Our Mayor finds himself being dragged (further) into this mess.

On the national front, I have to take issue with something Hillary Clinton has said repeatedly, including again last night. She claims 35 years experience in politics. Now, consider an analogy. I don’t know what Dr Starzl’s wife does for a living (or if he is even married). But assume she is a doctor, but not a surgeon. She has lived with the man thirty some years (say), and listened to his tales of transplant surgery, met the operating room nurses, but has never performed a transplant. Would you want her doing your liver transplant?

Granted, Mrs. Clinton was an unusually active first lady, in Arkansas and in the White House. She did extensive work on children’s and women’s issues in both places. But I would trust her a lot more if she described herself in a more complicated way, maybe as the ultimate insider *and* outsider. She was there while the decisions were being made, she met a lot of everybody, national and international, but she didn’t make the decisions that pissed people off. She could say she is coming to the office as a newcomer who happens to know where the bathrooms are.

But Hillary has dumbed her message down, saying she has 35 years of experience. When ABC brought up the bitter and cling to remark in the debate last night, Hillary took the low road, describing her faith and her roots instead of trying even a feeble conciliatory remark, to say something like how we should move past that. That’s why I didn’t blame Barack a bit when he brought up the “bake cookies” remark she made in 1992 a little while later, while Hillary stood there, visibly angry, practically shaking.

They have both taken shots at each other, it is true. But Barack has pulled off making it seem like defensive moves on his part, because in polls, on the question of trustworthy-ness, he is ahead of her by twenty points.

Nicholas Kristof had a very interesting commentary in today’s NYTimes. I personally believe he is looking at cognitive dissonance in our choices of presidential candidates. It dovetails reasonably well with the book I was pitching during the Mayoral race in the fall, "The Political Brain" by Drew Westen.

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