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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Symbol, Sense and Substance

Jack Lynch

Thankfully, a shameful tittering did not rise from the Congress as President Bush addressed the nation. Maintaining some civility and respect for an office that many in attendance aspire to reach is a reasonable approach. While Bush suggested that earmarks be processed through full debate on the floor, even his own party will defend their right to favor special interests at home.

Now if he's willing to start a real debate and some action on the floor, he should have renounced the rule rewriting he has undertaken hundreds of times at agencies to force legislative changes without Congressional approval, such as decimating the Clean Water Act over strip mining and mountain top removal

Unfortunately, beyond saying our checks are coming, there is little Bush said or did last Monday night that will long matter to us, or his legacy as President.

The real question of character is in the content of the campaigns. Before they took a hard swing in news and symbolism towards Obama after the South Carolina primary and with the joint Kennedy endorsements, it seemed like a substantial battle of increments between Hillary and Obama for the status of first ground breaking candidate. It could still turn again on February 5 and lead on to Maryland.

What really concerns me through this process is a failure to diverge on issues in a way that helps me to distinguish them beyond media swings and symbolism, such as primary bounce and endorsement auras. Substance should be the bottom line. Where is it? It eludes me. Can you delineate the differences between Hillary and Obama's health insurance stances? What new ideas beyond hope and change can you list that exemplify hope and change? Who really has a handle on the economy and a response to looming recession and housing market plunges?

When Kennedy inspired, it was based on substance, facing the Soviets, space, poverty and needs at home. He called youth to action that involved fresh water for African villages and mud brick schools. It was real. It was common sense.

In a race where statistical percentages between an array of voter categories: gender, race, age, education, etc. are paramount; the path to election should stand on issues and achievable legislative responses to national problems. It is not clear that will be the case. And it would be a grand failure for us all and the party if the Democrats do not distinguish this election on ideas and accomplishments. This is not American Idol.

Hopefully these candidates have engaged your Democratic ideals, and led you to the light. After the posters and balloons, will you know where we're heading as a country? But like the Fourth of July patriotism, all fireworks and flash, they trudge through my consciousness foot-less and forlorn, orphans against the storm, and I am not moved. For all their symbolic importance, they fail to satisfy, even after this time of long folly and failure by Republicans.

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