Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | October 9, 2004

Puh-lease: Local to national politics

With less than four weeks until voters head to the polls, local and national politicians are eliciting lots of eye rolls, head shakes and two-syllable puh-leases from me. These involuntary reactions are usually caused by such patently ridiculous assertions that I can’t believe someone would utter them.

During this week’s vice-presidential debate, both candidates gave me some dramatic eye-rolling moments.

Dick Cheney made two ridiculous assertions in this statement: “Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of Senate, the presiding officer. I’m up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they’re in session,” Cheney told John Edwards. “The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.”

That elicited eye roll number one. Of course, as has been widely reported, Cheney and Edwards met on at least three other occasions before the debate, some of them caught on videotape.

But that’s not the most irritating thing about Cheney’s statement. After listening to Cheney’s “I’m up in the Senate …” baloney, I’ll bet you pictured him sitting in the Senate chambers, listening with undivided attention to the debate.

That’s likely the mental image he was trying to conjure in listeners’ minds, but it would be inaccurate. Here’s how The Hill, a newspaper about the U.S. Congress, describes Cheney’s Senate appearances:

“Although Cheney usually attends a weekly Senate GOP policy luncheon on Tuesdays, that meeting occurs simultaneously with a Democratic luncheon. Cheney – who travels with aides and a security entourage – usually is whisked in and out of the building right before and after the lunch…

“(Vermont Sen. Patrick) Leahy said that he had served with five other vice presidents and that all of them spent considerably more time meeting with Senate Democrats than Cheney does.”

It’s kind of hard to meet your Democratic colleagues when you mostly meet with fellow Republicans during your once-weekly treks to the Senate for lunch.

Then there was this head shaker from Cheney about why more countries didn’t join the Iraq war effort: “It’s hard, after John Kerry referred to our allies as a coalition of the coerced and the bribed, to go out and persuade people to send troops and to participate in this process.”

Unless Cheney believes John Kerry has a time machine, this one is ludicrous.

Kerry’s comment was made during this fall’s presidential campaign, two years after President Bush began the drumbeat toward war with Iraq and would have been building his “grand coalition.” How John Kerry’s comment this year could have impacted the president’s ability to build a coalition roughly two years earlier is beyond my comprehension. Puh-lease.

But Cheney wasn’t alone in making eye-roll-eliciting statements. This comment from Edwards reminds me of how wrong the Democratic ticket is on an important issue: “… I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry … I also believe that there should be partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples in long-term, committed relationships.”

Kerry and Edwards are dead wrong on this one, and I’m sure in a decade or two, they’ll regret being so late to supporting reform on this issue of civil rights, fairness, tolerance and decency.

Marriage is both a civil and religious institution. There’s no reason that the government should prevent homosexuals from entering civil marriages (or religious marriages blessed by those churches that want to bless same-sex unions) because some religions object to the concept, any more than the government should ban atheism because some religions object to it.

Banning same-sex marriage (or creating lesser unions – civil unions) violates a basic tenet upon which this country was founded: that all men are created equal.

Whenever I ponder the Democratic ticket’s opposition to same-sex marriage, I’m forced to shake my head.

Local politics have caused me to shake my head as well. Take, for example, Gavilan Community College trustee candidate Manly Willis’ recent letter to the editor.

Putting aside his distracting and, er, unusual use of quote marks throughout his epistle, this claim made me roll my eyes:

“In The Dispatch on Sept. 18 … you claimed that Gavilan may enroll 9,000 students by 2010 and 13,000 by 2030 …” Willis wrote. “That’s ‘speculation’; therefore a lie!”

I don’t know what dictionary Willis uses, but there’s a big difference between speculation (“contemplation or consideration of a subject,” according to dictionary.com) and a lie (“an untruth spoken with the intention to deceive,” dictionary.com).

Puh-lease: Shouldn’t a candidate hoping to oversee an institution of higher education know the difference?

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