In the past few days I have heard from friends who say they either did, or will be voting for John McCain to get the GOP presidential nomination.
When I have noted that there are some pretty well known conservative Republicans opposing McCain, in addition to some pretty high profile Republicans endorsing him, they say it really doesn't matter what someone else is doing or who they are endorsing.
For instance, many of the conservative talk radio gurus - that is not an insult - are dead set against McCain. My friends note that they listen to many of these commentators, regularly if not daily, and appreciate the input they receive from that source.
But they also say that while talk radio gives them good information on which to base a choice, they make their own decisions.
In other words, conservative talk radio is doing just what it is supposed to do, helping people think their way to decisions that work for them. The listeners are thinkers, not puppets and not sheep, as the other side of the political fence so often maintains.
When I asked one friend why he would be voting for McCain instead of say, Romney, he told me that he does have issues with many of McCain's positions, but he had met Romney and found him to be distant and unapproachable. That impression right there neutralized Romney's stances on the positions, he said.
I had heard this before and it is obvious that Romney has lived a life that is different from most of the people I know. He is wealthy, he has built on the money he grew up with, and he has run businesses, private enterprises and government with equal success.
Not only has he lived a different life than most people, Romney looks it. He dresses in clothes that cost what others pay for a mortgage, he has a coiffured and polished appearance that only John Edwards can appreciate, and thus far that may have worked against Romney.
He has looked hard, much like the old Dick Tracy comic book character who was all angles and sharp edges, with no roundness or soft spots. It is important to be strong if you are going to lead the free world, but the public likes to think they can say hello, shake your hand and have a few words with you too.
In addition to where and how he has lived, Romney has never been where many of my friends have been either, in the military for instance. That has caused Romney some grief in the past few days, since McCain is hammering him for supposedly saying last spring that he supported timetables for troop withdrawals from Iraq.
That is not really what Romney said, but the fact is, like virtually every other politician in America, except McCain, he hedged his bets. Out of the remaining presidential candidates only McCain has served and would know the truth of what I wrote in this blog column more than a year ago - "take the gloves off ... trust the troops ... they won't let you down."
That was before anyone was talking about a surge on the American public scene, and most people thought the situation in Iraq was hopeless. McCain knew it wasn't, and most veterans knew it wasn't, but most politicians had no idea what would happen there or how to turn things around.
That answer was in what I wrote above - trust the troops. That meant the best generals as well as the most dedicated privates.
Our military is and has been the best. But considering what the media has done to the image of the American military in the past 50 years, it is hard for many Americans, including or perhaps especially, the politicians, to see that.
But Romney's faux pas on the Surge, if it even was a faux pas, since he didn't really endorse troop withdrawals, is hardly reason to vote against him, any more than his appearance is reason to vote for someone else.
My major concerns about Romney early on were on how he managed to become governor in a state that has spawned John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. Some Republican governors in states where the politics are dominated by Democrats get to be governor by making deals with the devil.
But seeing where McCain is getting his endorsements, as opposed to where Romney is getting his, has alleviated that concern on my part. The Democrats are not endorsing Romney and they don't want him to win. That is a good thing.
Romney may have acted like a politician when asked about the Surge last spring, and he may not have served in the military. But it isn't necessary that he served, considering that 93 percent of the American population hasn't been in the armed forces, so long as he understands the job that the military is supposed to do, and the job the politicians are supposed to do.
I also have noticed in recent weeks that Romney's hard edges have rounded a bit. Obviously someone on his campaign team understands public image and is working hard and effectively to make Romney more approachable.
But to take the issue of his appearance and his wealth a step further, what exactly is wrong with having money? He may have had a good head start in life, but every time we hear someone talk about the American Dream it includes the statement that each generation should do better than the one that preceded it.
OK. Is Romney living the dream? If so, aren't we being reverse elitists by saying we won't give a rich guy a chance? I am sick of hearing that putting his own money into the presidential race somehow is a black mark against Romney.
How can that be, when the other candidates are "buying" the presidency with other people's money?
It would appear that Romney would be far more independent in the White House than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat based on that concept.
What if he spends 8 years in the White House sharing his business knowledge and helping other people achieve their dreams whether they are financial or otherwise? Is that bad?
What if he helps people understand how to invest in successful corporations rather than complain about what CEOs make, or how much profit Exxon pulled in this year? What if we can rejoice in and share not only the riches, but the knowledge that a portion of those riches are the fruits of our own labor?
All I hear from the Democrats is that no one will ever achieve their dreams because "corporate America" and "the rich" are taking all the money while the working class is doing all the labor. That was a great argument back in the days of aristocracies, when Marx and Lenin were pigeonholing the entire human race, inflaming class warfare, and it was not possible for most people to invest in successful business ventures.
Today the aristocracies are all but gone, and if you don't like where you are or what you are doing, and you don't live in a communist dictatorship, you are the biggest impediment to your own happiness, not "the rich."
Besides, the Democrats don't really want to tax the rich; they want to tax the highest wage earners, the most productive in our society. That is true class warfare, since really "rich" people have wealth, not high taxable incomes. If you want more on that you'll have to listen to conservative talk radio.
Meanwhile, I have made a very short list of the most important issues facing this country, from my point of view. They are: National defense and homeland security; Immigration; and the Economy.
Assuming that Mike Huckabee still has a good chance of staying in the race depending on what happens in several southern states on Tuesday I have given the following grades to Romney and McCain:
National defense and homeland security: McCain A, Romney B+ due to his hedging on the Surge; Immigration: Romney A+, McCain incomplete because he keeps changing his position; the Economy: Romney A; McCain C.
I will keep checking that list right up to the time I go vote on Super Tuesday. It will determine who gets my support, not Romney's appearance, nor McCain's age for that matter. Rather, I will be voting for the person who I think has the best qualities to lead America.
Saturday, February 02, 2008