The 2008 presidential election makes my head hurt.
Not just an ordinary dull-ache-behind-the-eyes headache, mind you, but a my-brain-is-actually-cramping style of headache that usually only comes after watching Lost.
And that’s why the most important decision John McCain and Barack Obama (face it, Hillary is over) have to make is with their respective vice presidential choices. Ultimately, that decision will likely be the deciding factor in which one I choose to support this fall.
McCain immediately jumps out at me because as a Republican, I’m pretty much expected to support him. And, to a certain degree, I do, just not enough to make him my presumptive candidate. When the primary season first began, I threw my support behind Mike Huckabee, who then went off-the-rails crazy but still managed to be a better option than Mitt Romney. Rather than support ol’ Mitt – or transfer my affiliation to the Democrats (I would have made a Star Wars-themed Dark Side reference there, but I’m sure someone would have accused it of being racist) – I backed McCain, despite some serious concerns, not the least of which is he’s an old-assed man.
Now, some people might accuse me of being ageist and ask if I think Obama is not qualified because he’s black or if Hillary isn’t a good choice because she’s a woman. There is a huge difference between a person’s age versus their color or gender. We require our presidential candidates to be at least 35. Why? In part, we want to make sure the Leader of the Free World has enough experience to actually lead the free world, not just keep on rocking it, Neil Young style.
So, if we have an age minimum, what’s wrong with thinking there should be an age maximum? Frankly, I’m infinitely more comfortable with a fresh-faced, relatively inexperienced 30-year-old running the country than I am with it in the liver-spotted hands of someone who might be slipping into the early forms of dementia. Look, I’m not saying John McCain is senile, but having lived with an Alzheimer’s-inflicted grandfather, I’m well aware that the problems creep up on you without them being realized until, quite often, it’s too late.
Let’s look to baseball for a real-world example: who would you rather have running your team – Theo Epstein, the 34-year-old general manager of the Boston Red Sox, who got the job at age 28 and then put the pieces in place for two World Series titles in four years after 86 years without …
… or George Steinbrenner, the 77-year-old owner of the New York Yankees, who has retreated into the shadows because of, surprise, bouts of dementia, after his questionable moves and overspending have left the Yankees without a title since 2000?
I’m going with the youthful vigor.
McCain, by the way, is 71.
Obama, though has gaps in his resume, some of which his primary opponents have exploited and which the Republicans will no doubt latch onto come the fall. I also sometimes get the idea that he’s a bit of an empty suit, a man who can give a fantastic, tear-jerking speech full of the rhetoric needed to win an election but without the ability to oversee those promises and make any true changes.
And, I guess frankly, race does have a bit of a role in this election as Obama attempts to become the country’s first half-black, half-white President. While this should not in any way influence anyone’s decision in the voting booth, I can’t help but think that at some point, should he win, a serious attempt on his life will be made. I pray that never happens, but if it does, I’m not prepared to live in the aftermath of this country. Any healing in the racial divide that comes with an Obama victory gets ripped open rawer than ever with the firing of a single bullet.
I’m also not 100 percent certain Obama’s general plans of ending the war in Iraq is totally effective, as I feel it’s easy to sit on the sideline and play general. Once you’re in the decision-making chair, those decisions grow increasingly more difficult. I tend to think McCain has a better Iraq strategy, but at the same time, it’s his Iran strategy (as in, invading them with their nuclear weapons and all) that keeps me scared at night.
So, what it comes down to between the two is this: Am I more frightened by the known with McCain or the unknown with Obama?
Truthfully, I don’t know.
But here’s another real-world way of looking at it, this time courtesy of the NBA. In 2007, there were two sure-fire, can’t-miss prospects coming out of college. Greg Oden, a freshman center from Ohio State, is a 7-foot center, a prototypical big man who can play with his back to the basket, provide double figures in points and rebounds every night and contribute with some strong defense. While he has the potential to be an all-star, he has a definite ceiling – he won’t redefine the game but can take his place among previous centers like Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon.
However, Oden came with an immediate drawback: this 20-year-old who looks like he’s 45 has had some injury problems during his playing days, and the stress of being so big wreaks havoc on a man’s legs and joints. Draft him and you might get 20 points, 13 boards a night. You also might get nothing if an injury befalls him.
Kevin Durant is a 6-9 freshman forward from Texas who electrified the college basketball world with his play-making skills and knack for hitting clutch shots anywhere within 25 feet of the basket. He eventually won several major Player of the Year honors, becoming the first freshman in history to do so. Most basketball experts agreed they had never seen anyone quite like him, and once he blossoms (he’s just 19), he could essentially create a new hybrid position, blending the skills of a point guard, shooting guard, power forward and small forward. His ceiling is unlimited, with talks of him one day joining the pantheon Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.
Or, he might not. He might not ever develop, particularly with such a small frame (he’s just 215 pounds), and with the beating he’ll take every night, particularly as a bad team’s only option, he might fade away into oblivion, becoming another in a long line of “what might of beens.”
Oden didn’t play a game this past year; he had microfracture surgery on his right knee prior to the season.
Durant won Rookie of the Year honors.
But these United States are not the NBA, and history is far kinder to misplaced draft picks than misguided presidents. Unless you’re the Los Angeles Clippers, one bad draft won’t ruin your franchise. The wrong president, though, particularly in this day and age in which hope is low and fuel costs are high, and it might take decades to fully recover.
Oden or Durant, they only affect my fantasy sports teams. McCain or Obama, they affect everything else.
I have a lot of thinking to do.