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April 24, 2008
Let’s consider this political possibility: Was Republican Senator John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential candidate, the de facto winner in Pennsylvania’s Democratic presidential primary voting Tuesday?
Hillary Clinton’s 10-point victory margin assured that the bitter, divisive battle within the Democratic Party will continue. Clinton is now in much stronger position to resist pressure to end the intraparty warfare by withdrawing, clearing the way for Barack Obama, still widely regarded as the ultimate winner of the Democratic presidential nomination.
Comments from election-night panelists on CNN and the Charlie Rose show included statements like these:
One TV panelist implied that his age—he will be 72 on Inaugural Day means John McCain won’t be elected. Yet later several commentators agreed that Senator Obama, 49, appeared clearly tired and less effective as the campaign continues. Charlie Rose asked: “Why doesn’t he take time off to rest up?”
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In the run-up to the presidential primary voting in Pennsylvania, Obama and Clinton became involved in what might be described as a close relation to the once popular (still popular?) game called “Trivial Pursuit.”
With their basic positions—Hillary’s experience vs. Barack’s call for change—so long established and widely known, the campaign at times deteriorated into a mixture of trivialities and statements of the candidates’ positions on issues which seemed to me to have little or absolutely nothing to do with their qualifications for office.
Among the trivialities certainly were the sometimes painful efforts to represent themselves as non-elitists, with interests and tastes the same as those of the blue-collar workers who were special targets in the Pennsylvania campaign.
Hillary, for example, had a beer and tossed back a shot of Crown Royal whiskey in a bar. Barack went bowling—white shirtsleeves rolled up—and threw two gutter balls. Barack also started dropping his g’s if his audience was of the blue-collar type. Profits are “goin’ down” but CEOs are “takin’ home” bigger paychecks.
In the big dustup over religion as a part of everyday life or a refuge to be turned to primarily in times of trouble, Hillary was asked to describe specific examples of feeling closeness with God. She replied that on “many, many occasions I felt like the Holy Spirit was there with me.” I doubt that I’m the only one who found this pandering to religious conservatives a bit nauseating.
Hillary apparently felt that she must make at least a pass at establishing her bona fides as a candidate who understands why Pennsylvania is known as a state where hunting is a major part of the blue collar way of life. She said she recalled how her father had taught her how to shoot.
My advice to Hillary would be to concentrate on something other than the gun owners’ vote. I suspect National Rifle Association support is already locked in for Sen. McCain
* * *
Elsewhere on the campaign trail:
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell continues to reserve his strongest praise for a fellow black, Barack Obama.
Powell said that he is a friend of all three presidential candidates and that while he had not decided whom to support, he was impressed by Obama’s ability to “learn quickly.”
You might say that Obama, who certainly does not bring an impressive record of presidential-qualifying experience with him, will certainly have to be ready “to learn quickly” if he is elected president.
Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, outperformed Obama in their separate appearances before audiences of the nation’s newspaper editors and publishers in Washington last week.
McCain got a standing ovation after brief remarks and a question-and-answer session sponsored by the Associated Press. Among other things, he demonstrated a sense of humor, an appealing quality largely missing from the Obama and Clinton campaigns.
When asked by an Associated Press reporter whether he felt that his age—he will be 72 when the new president is sworn into office next January 20—is a fact that must be taken into account, McCain’s quick response was to drop his head as though nodding off to sleep.
After the laughter subsided, McCain said that anyone considering whether his age should be a campaign factor should “watch me campaign.” As he has done frequently, he mentioned again that skeptics should meet his 96-year-old mother.
Obama spoke to a luncheon crowd of editors and publishers. He repeated a number of things he had previously said in press conferences or on the campaign trail. A Washington Post commentator said that Obama’s presentation was “uncharacteristically flat.”
* * *
If you aren’t aware that I believe that tax-subsidized giant windmills are being vastly oversold as a significant source of electrical energy, you haven’t been reading my columns.
Another example of the reason for my skepticism was demonstrated in a major story in a recent edition of The Washington Post. The headline read: “Wisconsin Feels Turbulence Over Pulling Power From Air.” The subheadline read: “State Finds More Opposition Than Expected to Wind Turbines.”
The story said that given Wisconsin’s reputation as a “green” state, it would seem that the proposal to construct windfarms in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior off the state’s shores would easily be approved.
“But opposition to land-based windfarms and the slow development of wind power in the state have some wind power advocates gearing up for a fight with those expressing concern about humming noise, flickering shadows and ruin the views.”
A university student, from a generation which might be expected to favor alternative energy sources, was quoted as saying his family refuses to participate in a wind power project on farmland north of Milwaukee. (Wind power producers often pay farmers to erect turbines on their land.)
“I’ve seen the effects,” said Marquette University student Kollin Petrie, 19. “They have to use humongous cranes to put them up, and now there are all these gravel roads cutting the farmland into random sections. It’s kind of sad. My father felt the price wouldn’t justify the cost we’d lose in land and aesthetic value.”
The picture below accompanied The Washington Post story. It shows a wind turbine looming over the landscape near Northfield, Minnesota. The turbine is owned by Carleton College and was described as supplying 40% of the electricity needs of the college.
The picture illustrates one of the basic problems with windpower. It fluctuates from strong to zero.
Do you suppose the college campus lights were flickering—or perhaps 40% of them were turned off—when the picture below was taken?
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