Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Political ponderings

Over in my sidebar, you can notice a new widget from Pajamas Media. It's a straw poll for both major parties presidential candidates. Since I just installed it, I'm not showing results yet, but I voted earlier today when I found this little gadget on another blog. The results surprised me. The leading Republican candidate, former Tennessee Senator, lawyer and actor, Fred Thompson, had not declared that he was in the race. Neither had the favorite Democrat, former Vice-President, former Senator and fellow Tennessean, Al Gore Jr.

The Pajamas Media straw poll is not prepared to be statistically reliable. It takes some serious math to come up with a "random sample" that truly reflects the population. The questions are usually very carefully worded, and they often include redundancy as a way to check the consistency of response. So a poll like this truly has to be taken with a grain of salt.

However, one thing came through loud and clear to me. Tennessee can produce some true leaders in the political arena. Like the curly headed girl in the nursery rhyme, when they're good, they're very, very good. Conversely, when they're bad, they're horrid.

I look at some of Tennessee's leaders through the years. Andrew Jackson took the decimation of the Native Americans to new levels but helped define Democracy. James K. Polk was the only President who kept every campaign promise he made. Davy Crockett stood on the steps of a nearby courthouse and said, "You can go to hell, but I'm going to Texas. Sam Houston, also known as the Black Raven, left the Tennessee Governor's mansion in mid-term to live with the Cherokee who had adopted him. Apparently, Texas agreed with him better than Tennessee. He completed his governor's term there without interruption. Andrew Johnson fought for our nation to heal without acrimony after the Civil War and got impeached for it. Cordell Hull is acknowledged as Father of the United Nations and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in helping to create a true world community. Estes Kefauver, the Vice-Presidential nominee on Adlai Stevenson's ticket and the driving force in breaking down the Boss Crump political machine that drove Tennessee politics for years, fought corruption with a vengeance while his opponents called him a communist. I have to include Howard Baker, known as The Great Conciliator and Integrity Walking. Baker is noted for asking "What did the President know and when did he know it?" (at the suggestion of Fred Dalton Thompson) during the Watergate trials that drove Nixon to leave the presidency. Of course, there are tales of corruption, mediocrity, ambition beyond ability and stupidity in Tennessee politics as well, but tonight, I'm a little impressed by some of the greatness that has flourished here. It feels good not to have to look far for a little inspiration.

I also can't help thinking what a race it would be if Gore and Thompson were the presidential nominees in 2008. Gore has had my loyalty since before I could vote, and that would not change. However, I know this could be a race for the Oval Office where both candidates could hold my respect. That would be a nice change of pace. So is the idea of what this country could be with either at the helm. I don't fool myself into thinking that I'd like or support everything they would do, but for once I might feel like personal self-interest, ambition, ego and power plays were not the driving forces behind every decision.

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Blogger Lisa :-] said...

I can't help but feel that Al Gore is the only viable, electable democratic candidate. It's cool that he's become somwhat of the "elder statesman..." And I think he'll run if he is asked nicely...

Fred Thompson? I'm sorry...all I can see when I look at him is "Law & Order." I'll have to do a little research. And I think the cancer issue might hurt him.

April 11, 2007 11:58 PM  
Blogger F.deSales said...


Your post caught my eye because I also just installed the Pajamas Media widget. (Cool, isn't it?) Being a history guy, I enjoyed your commentary on Tennessee statesmen.

Here in Illinois, where "some" of the presidential focus is, we have also had a few statesmen in our day... ;-)

I do think I'm going to have to vote for YOUR statesman in this race, tho, if he runs...

April 12, 2007 8:51 PM  

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