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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Book of Matthew: Politics as usual

Published: December 7, 2007
Section: Opinions

There are not many politicians that have my respect, but former President Bill Clinton is one of the few. His Dec. 4th address, honoring Eli Segal, was quite possibly the most inspiring speech that I have heard in a long time. It served as a pleasant reminder that a president can be intelligent and articulate, which is something that I had forgotten over the past eight years.

As I listened to Clinton, I admit that I wished that he were able to switch places with his wife and run for President again. Many of the issues that he discussed were ones that Americans do not hear about enough. He talked about how rapid global population growth is connected to global warming and global poverty, and he offered several solutions to each problem. Most importantly, Clinton spoke without sounding like a politician at all. He had no campaign strategist telling him what to say, he had no staged questions, and yet he gave a great speech.

This brings me to my main point. Clinton has proven himself to be a real leader that politicians should emulate, but unfortunately, few do. When I look at the people vying for the presidency today, I wonder where all the leaders have gone. All I see are petty men (and a woman) using any means necessary to gain our votes.

Lets start with the Republicans.

Oh, Republicans, there is just so much to say about you guys. The last Republican debate that I watched was the recent YouTube debate, which, I must say, I found disturbing. The candidates tackled a lot of typical Republican issues, like guns, the Bible, and illegal immigration, but I didn’t see much more than that. They barely mentioned global warming, or health care, or the war, you know, important issues that effect all of us. On top of that, every time a candidate opened his mouth, I found it difficult to trust what he was saying.

For example, take the bickering over illegal immigration, a problem that I doubt the Republicans can solve. Rudy Giuliani has quite an entertaining record, denouncing illegal immigration in some speeches, and praising it in others. Mitt Romney is not much better, and a high point of the night was the verbal battle between the two candidates, that went something like this: Giuliani makes statement against illegal immigration.Romney cites Giuliani’s record, claiming that he has not fought illegal immigration hard enough. Giuliani strikes back, citing an instance where Romney hired a company that employed illegals. Romney rushes to his defense, rapid yelling ensues.

By the time the dust settled, both candidates looked like fools, and I doubt there was one person in the audience who could tell what each man was really in favor of.

Speaking of fools, Ron Paul, the man with the revolution, told audiences that he believed in a conspiracy to build a highway connecting Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Yes, you read this correctly. We won’t spend money to fix our bridges, but we will build a superhighway to make illegal immigration even easier. For a while, I thought that was the most farfetched piece of information to come out of the debate. Then Huckabee promised to eliminate the IRS, following the age-old tradition of winning votes by promising tax cuts. I guess you can’t get any more Republican than that.

Now, let’s take a look on the other side of things. The “Big Three” of the Democratic Party are Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards. They seem to have overshadowed the other candidates in both support and media coverage, to the point where they are almost irrelevant. I do believe that these Democrats are slightly more in touch with reality than Republicans, as far as policy is concerned, but their campaign strategies are unbelievable.

We’ve all watched Clinton take a beating from her two top competitors for quite some time whether she deserved it or not. Recently, she decided to retaliate in a way that nobody expected. She managed to dig up an essay that Obama wrote, while he was in kindergarten, titled “I Want to Be President.” The Clinton campaign used this as evidence to prove that Obama has had presidential ambitions his whole life—something that he has always denied.

Just for the record, I’m sure that 5-year-old Obama also had ambitions to become a police officer, firefighter, pilot, doctor, actor, cowboy, and possibly Superman. Come on, did Hillary honestly think that ploy would work?

People have labeled the things I have discussed as “politics as usual.” Well, I am tired of politics as usual. I am tired of politics in general. For once, we need a leader of this country to actually be a leader and not a hopeless sap who constantly looks for a photo-op and a patriotic quote. Bill Clinton has served his terms, and George W. Bush has failed miserably as a successor. Who will take the reigns now and take on the countless crises the world faces?

We can only hope that one of these candidates, Democrat or Republican, proves to be capable of this challenge soon. I want to hear good ideas and effective, practical plans, but please, no more rhetoric.