Politics and Football

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Some random thoughts...

Fred Thommpson's withdrawal from the Republican race for President is re-assuring in one important way. It shows that a pretty face (!) from Hollywood isn't enough in a race like this! 

I have to pause whenever I hear Sen. Hillary Clinton talk about her 35 years of public service. She’s just started her eighth year as a U.S. Senator from New York, the state that has a most peculiar idea about the residency of its U.S. Senators. (Basically, if you move to New York, you can become eligible to represent that massive state almost as soon as you move in.) Even if you give her credit for serving all of 2007 in the U.S. Senate (much of which she and others spent running for President), that would be seven years in elected office, not 35.  The only other public position she’s ever held is wife of the Governor of Arkansas who later became President. Being a wife and mother is an honorable profession, and if you throw in being an attorney on top of that, she’s certainly done a lot. But the last time I checked, none of those is an elected position.

It’ll be interesting to see which candidates for President the folks in West Virginia and Ohio will still be able to choose from, by the time our primaries are held here. Ohio’s is March 4th and West Virginia’s is May 13th. That’s a long time from now in the world of Presidential politics.

If Bill Clinton is playing hatchet man for his wife’s campaign now, imagine what he will be like if she’s elected President! I know one thing. I wouldn’t want to be the Vice President in that Administration. That person may as well take a four-year vacation.

John McCain is an interesting candidate. But I wish he’d stop using the phrase “my friends.” He used “my friend” any number of times when addressing Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” recently. The first time you hear it, it sounds genuine. The 50th time, it sounds artificial.

Speaking of “Meet the Press,” did you watch Sen. Clinton on there a couple of weeks ago? In addition to referring to her “35 years of public service” at least three times, she and Russert wrestled with a very interesting point.

In 2002, Barack Obama (then a state Senator from Illinois) came out very strongly against any war in Iraq and was much more vocal about that opposition. During that same year, Sen. Clinton voted to give President Bush free reign to do whatever was necessary to address the alleged threat posed by Saddam Hussein, including the use of force. She told Russert that she carefully studied the intelligence data and even did some research on her own before voting for that legislation. She also said that she voted for it only because she had been verbally assured by members of the Bush Administration that they would explore every diplomatic option before taking any military action, something she says they did not do.

Since 2002, she has vigorously opposed the war while she claims that Obama has backed off some of his earlier criticisms.

Russert’s question was: “But who had the most foresight about the war back in 2002 – Obama or Clinton?”

Sen. Clinton’s response: She has consistently opposed the war since 2002, while Obama has not. That was not the question, but it is perhaps a salient point.

It’s easy for a person who is not in the U.S. Senate to talk about how he or she would vote on a specific issue. At the same time, the U.S. Senate is also known for writing and structuring bills so that a “yes” vote can later be interpreted as a “no” vote, and vice versa.

Either way, it’s all water under the bridge.

Speaking of unpopular wars, would you say there was little opposition to the North’s involvement in the Civil War, or America’s involvement in World War I and World War II?  Some reading I’ve done indicates there was a lot more opposition to those wars while they were going on, than most of us have been taught.

In her book “Team of Rivals,” Presidential historian Doris Kearne Goodwin talks about how many people in the North wanted Lincoln to bring a speedy end to the Civil War as the death toll began to rise. They were willing to let the Confederacy be its own nation. But Lincoln was not.   “A house divided cannot stand,” he declared.

World War I was not overly popular here in the U.S. and it led to a generation of isolationism that may have helped bring on WW2.

And WW2 was not universally popular here in the U.S., particularly when it came to pursuing the Japanese from island to island in the Pacific, enroute to the homeland.

So, divisiveness over wars – even wars that most would agree we won – is not unusual. And divisiveness over messier wars – in which victory may be difficult to claim – is to be expected.

A couple of last observations about the Rich Rodriguez mess. Rich claims he was upset that he had to learn about WVU’s lawsuit against him for $4 million in the media. Let me see… How did WVU find out he might be leaving to go to Michigan? Did University of Michigan officials contact WVU and ask permission to speak to Coach Rod, as has been the custom? NO!

And as for WVU’s new coach, Bill Stewart. Everyone should remember that in Rich Rodriguez’s first year at the helm, WVU went 3-8 … and that was the year after the team had gone to a bowl game.  So, will the fans of WVU be patient if Bill Stewart’s first-year record is 3-8? I would hope so, but I doubt it.

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