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Thursday, September 13, 2007


Picture courtesy of the White House

By Michael Linn Jones

There is that old story about a Texan braggart on a tour of New York City. His guide is a native New Yorker, and he tells the Texan that their next stop is the Empire State Building.

Looking up at the skyscraper from the sidewalk, the Texan exclaims, "Why hell, we have outhouses in Texas bigger than that."

The New Yorker replies, "Yeah, and you need 'em, too."

Being Americans, we have this, a need to be superlative in things. Best, biggest,longest, highest....and first. First on the moon; first in flight; first in production, and so on. And now....first in the nomination process for the office of the President of the United States.

Conventions used to produce the candidates. In those "smoke-filled rooms" so pilloried by those who demanded a change. Power to the people and all that.

For the Democrats, 1968 was the last year of the party bosses deciding who got what. The primary system was beefed up and then inevitably manipulated. It was supposed to be (and to a great extent was) a winnowing process that took place over months. Numerous states had their primary elections in a loose order; one that allowed that most precious commodity in elections...time. Time is needed to take a second or even third look at a candidate.

But no more. It was odd how in 2004 the Democrats had their nominee decided so soon. It was a bogus "winner take all" event that finally vindicated Harry Truman's opinion that primaries were bunk.

But, in for a penny; in for a pound. This time around numerous states are advancing their primary dates sooner and sooner, so as to be......first. What the 2008 Democratic primary election is now resembling is the Thunderdome from Mad Max. "Eight candidates enter; one candidate leaves." I wouldn't be shocked if they had Tina Turner sing the theme song at the convention next year. It would be appropriate.

Every pollster is aware of the 1948 gaffe when "Dewey Defeats Truman" was used as crow for journalists to eat after the truth came out. The "experts" stop listening to the people and only listened to each other. In a nutshell, that's how they missed the mark so badly in 1948.

But not to worry. The system is being manipulated so that "the people" will be herded into only one corral, and very quickly at that. Options will disappear long before there is any truly close examination of the candidates. The experts can finally be afforded the luxury of listening only to each other.

So now, in September 2007 we are being given the clear choice for the Democratic Party: Hillary Clinton. That inevitability mantra is one of the things that annoys me about her candidacy.

More and more it appears to be an enthronment rather than an electoral process. It will take place not in a smoke-filled room, but rather in a smoke-free room. In fact, a low cholesterol, high fiber, flatulence (and hence Co2) free room.

As a Democrat, I don't feel like I've got any choice, but more an instruction from the Democratic National Committee. The wheel seems to have turned full circle from the American Revolution. Mel Gibson's character Benjamin Martin makes a comment in the film THE PATRIOT: "Why trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants 1 mile away?"

It's a good question. Tryanny with a smile is tyranny just the same. If Senator Clinton is as intelligent as she is supposed to be, might she not ask herself if in reaching her ultimate goal she will cast aside any claim to historical relevance?

In the end, the 2008 campaign will be the dirtiest yet.

And so will the governing that follows.

Kind of makes one nostalgic for those smoke-filled rooms sometimes.

Michael Linn Jones

Cross Posted at Michael Linn Jones and the Gun Toting Liberal

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