Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Tag: Presidential race

Grant Park Election Day

On this “day-after-the-election” I wanted to share with you, my reader, some of my thoughts and feellings about the historic journey we have all witnessed, and explain my fascination with the cause.

I began covering the candidates who appeared at the Iowa caucuses the year that (Dr.) Howard Dean ran for president. My long-dormant political passion was stoked by drifting across the steet from teaching classes at the Kahl Building in downtown Davenport, Iowa, and wandering into the downtown Dean headquarters. We were urged to stay and share our thoughts and feelings about the state of America. I became hugely disillusioned in the wake of the 2000 election that saw “hanging chads” in Florida and the Supreme Court select George W. Bush as our 43rd president. I found it incomprehensible that one man’s brother (then-Governor Jeb Bush of Florida) could hand the most important office in our land to someone totally unprepared. The process was broken. I, along with many others, felt betrayed. I have felt that only once before…when a 1st Ward Alderman race I had labored long and hard in turned out to be “rigged,” was proven to have had officials at the top playing fast-and-loose with the absentee ballots, but nothing…not one word…was written in the local newspaper, despite the presence of a reporter from same (Jenny Lee of the Moline, Illinois, Daily Dispatch). it is one thing for candidates to cheat and get caught. That happens every day. My point: where is the retribution? Where is the “gotcha'” moment that restores the true, natural order of the universe? It seemed that the sense of decency and honesty in the election process that i had watched my father helped preserve in his races for Democratic County Treasurer of Buchanan County (IA) had evaporated, and in its place was corruption at the very heart of the political process…even in small-town America. If counties like Rock Island County, Illinois, were proven to be as dirty as Cook County in Chicago, what was the world coming to? And if proving it, in court, didn’t bring at least a slap on the hand to the perpetrators, could our national election process be far behind in granting complete impunity to those who would steal our democracy from us?

I live in a divided household, an Arnold Schwarzenegger/Maria Shriver split, with no one but me weighing in as a Democrat or…at times…an Independent. When one family member admits to glee at the time that JFK was shot, the feeling of complete alienation from what is right and what is good becomes pervasive. I have never wished death on a candidate, no matter how corrupt or evil I might perceive them to be. I have the same horror of that kind of thinking as I do for not trying (at least) to see the other person’s point of view.

Many times, my life partner would tell me that, in expressing my support for a candidate that (apparently) did not provide congruency with his own choices, I was or had been “obnoxious.” This meant that I had spoken my mind about the lack of preparedness or the general quality of a Repubican, usually, and I had found them wanting. at the same time, I hosted coffees for a Republican neighbor (Ray LaHood, last out of Peoria) and contributed to more than one Republican candidate (Andrea Zinga, Dave Machacek) so, was I really the blind straight-party voting ticket person that my spouse accused me of being during various discussions that generated far more heat than light? No. I was someone who would weigh the candidates and try my best to select that individual who could best lead our country in troubled times.

No times are more troubled than now. The economy is spiraling downward. We are fighting on two fronts. Our esteem abroad seemed irreparably shattered by a pre-emptive war that should never have been started, begun by a man who wanted to show dear old dad that he could do it better. History will judge if junior did a better job  or a worse job than his father, but, as for me, in my semi-retirement, determined to write as I had always planned to do, I became political.

Oh, we still observed the political sticker moratorium, after the years of a Republican bumper sticker being applied over a Democratic bumper sticker ad nauseum, but I was not content to sit idly by and watch my country go down the tubes in the wake of George W. Bush. I became convinced that a president who was determined to ‘win at any costs” and a running mate with little or no foreign policy experience and some very esoteric views about the rest of the world and science and religion spelled certain doom for what remained of this once-great nation.

And I also decided that the best way for me to contribute to the victory of one (of many excellent Democratic candidates (Obama, Clinton, Richardson, Edwards, et. al.) as opposed to the reactionary forces of the Republicans arrayed against them was to throw off the cloak of meek-and-mild indifference and DO SOMETHING. Anything. Even if it was the wrong something, it would be better than a Bush clone in the White House. After all, what more could the man ruin.

It was this decision, made during a previous election run, that led me to ‘blog” for Iowa (www.blogforiowa), which, no doubt, earned me a place on George W. Bush’s enemies list. I took popular song lyrics and turned them into political gems aimed at exposing the Man Who Would be King. With humor, I aimed barbs at “the Decider,” covering Abu Ghraib and all things horrible like it. My journey had begun, and it would not end until November 4, 2008, in Grant Park in Chicago (see video above).

Through the bitter cold of Iowa’s winter, I tracked caucus candidates like Joe Biden and Christopher Dodd and Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Barack obama to school gymnasiums and people’s living rooms. I listened to their message(s) of change and hope. I contributed cash, but, more importantly, I contributed time and effort, attempting to let others know what I was able to observe, up-close-and-personal. Yes, some of my early heroes turned out to have feet of clay (Edwards, anyone?), but the eventual winner of this marathon race seems like the right man for the job at the right time in history.

The palpable enthusiasm at last night’s part gathering was like a city celebrating a World Series or a Super Bowl victory. Just a few moments ago, sitting in my 7th floor condo on Indiana Avenue near Hutchinson Field, a red balloon, no doubt left over from last night’s celebration, drifted past my balcony door. Today, though I am tired, I feel that, somehow, we, as a nation are back on the right track. It is a given that other nation’s will see Barack Obama as a worthy representative of this nation’s highest ideals. After years of a stumbling, incoherent leader who not only could not speak well, but could not lead well, we will have a well-qualified, well-educated, hard-working man who seems to genuinely love his family and his country in ways that do not visit death and destruction on the rest of the world.

I pray for Barack Obama on this day-after-the-election. I revel in the knowledge that I was “there,” inside, at the Pepsi Center in Denvr, at the Excel Center in St. Paul, at the Target Center for the Ron Paul Rally in Minneapolis, at the Iowa caucuses, at the Belmont Town Hall Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, and, last night, in Grant Park where Barack Obama started this nation on a brand new journey that I hope will restore this country’s honor and reputation, both abroad and at home.

McCain Says Debates Should be Postponed

John McCain

Today (September 24), John McCain announced that he was suspending his campaign in order to rush back to Washington, D.C., to help solve the nation’s financial crisis. This is a little like sending a pyromaniac into a burning building to put out the fire he started. John McCain was one of the chief voices railing against governmental regulation…until the you-know-what-hit the fan.

John McCain is also the candidate who has openly admitted he “knows nothing about the economy.”[Barack Obama, on the other hand, has 3 former Secretaries of the Treasury advising him and is a Harvard graduate (as compared to McCain’s graduating fifth from the bottom of his class, and that, arguably, only because his father and grandfather were both Admirals.)

Voters on AOL’s main blog, when asked whether it was a good or a bad idea for McCain to suspend his campaign activities, voted 55% no and 45% yes with 303,501 total votes cast at midnight. In regards to postponing the debates, the “no” vote was even higher, with 58% saying “no,” 38% saying “yes” (not people who have bought a plane ticket to fly there to attend, obviously), and 4% saying they were “unsure” with 297,018 votes cast.

It is so patently obvious that whenever the Republicans are struggling in their uphill battle against the facts they either throw the facts, themselves under the bus (or train) or, failing that, they hike off to visit a natural disaster like Hurricane Gustav during the Republican National Convention. This time, rather than weather, they are citing the decline and fall of the American empire (aka, the current budget crisis) in order to avoid doing their debating duty. The rest of the time the Republican Presidential and Vice Presidential are apparently hiding out in Cheney’s bunker or coffin or wherever it is that our current Darth Vader VP keeps his guns, his defibrillator, and himself.

McCain also suggested not having Friday night’s debate, scheduled for the University of Mississippi in Oxford on Friday, September 26th, but postponing it. Barack Obama responded in a Clearwater, Florida news conference, “It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess.” He added, “It’s going to be part of the President’s job to deal with more than one thing at a time.”

Point well taken. Also, the Commission on Presidential Debates has been working out the details of these appearances for literally months, I know that I have been jumping through hoops along with AC news personnel to attempt to get Press Credentials for the second Presidential debate, scheduled for October 7th, Tuesday, on campus at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, for literally months. If the first debate is pushed back, it will cause a domino effect and all other debates will have to be pushed back, including the third debate set for Wednesday, October 15th on campus at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

I know from my daughter’s firsthand reports that the campus in Nashville has been working on arrangements for this debate for months and months. The place is lousy with Secret Service and the countdown has been going on since the beginning of the school year. It is completely inconsiderate to those organizations, sites and that Commission, as well as unnecessary, for the debates to be postponed or canceled, and it is clearly a political ploy on McCain’s part. McCain is not a particularly skilled speaker, yet he has constantly gone after Barack Obama, claiming that Obama won’t debate him in Town Hall meetings, when the truth is that there have always been three such meetings that an independent commission has been working out the details of for months, and now McCain, not Obama, is the one who wants to torpedo all the hard work that the groups and campuses and Secret Service have put in.

The way in which McCain handled this new idea for weaseling out of debating was particularly unsavory. The two candidates for President had just spoken on the phone and agreed to try to work together for the good of the country in solving the economic crisis and trying to get bi-partisan support for some kind of financial bailout. Then, as Obama put it, “When I got back to the hotel, he (McCain) had gone on television to announce what he was going to do.” Not really the sporting way, is it?

It has not escaped the attention of those, like Senator Harry Reid (D, Nevada) that McCain is trying to divert attention from his fading campaign and the issue on which he is weakest: the economy. Yet Senator Lindsey Graham, McCain’s advisor, announced that he would not attend the debate(s) “unless there is an agreement that would provide a solution” to the financial crisis, and that, furthermore, this solution would have to be publicly endorsed by Obama. Meanwhile, “W” has stepped in to call the two campaigning candidates to the White House to meet and talk and work together for the good of the country. Now I’m really alarmed: the last person I want guiding any kind of solution is the most inept President in history! Give George a pretzel and a beer and let him eat it while trying not to choke, but keep him away from being “the Decider.” Please!

As a person who has already secured lodging, a plane ticket, and all the other things necessary to be in attendance at the Presidential debate on the advertised-far-in-advance date in Nashville in October, I’m opposed to pulling the plug on an open discussion of the very issues we most need to be exposing the American citizens to so that we can safeguard the future of this country.

Senator Joseph Biden Selected to be VP Nominee by Obama

Joe Biden & Barack Obama

Back on January 1, 2008, I printed some remarks made by Senator Joe Biden (D, Delaware) as he appeared in Davenport, Iowa, during the Iowa primary campaign season. In light of Senator Biden’s selection Saturday (Aug. 23, 2008) to be Barack Obama’s running mate for the Democratic bid for the Presidency, I’m reprinting some of his more noteworthy comments. (For those who wish to see the original article, complete with photo of Joe Biden and Yours Truly, check the archives on www.associatedcontent.com).

There is no doubt that Senator Joe Biden is a great orator. Sometimes, he has followed in the tradition of “loose lips sink ships,” as when he used a line at an Iowa State Fair speech and failed to properly attribute it (he had attributed it appropriately in prior addresses). This furor derailed an earlier bid for the Presidency with charges of “plagiarism.”

When the position of Chairman of the Democratic Party was up for grabs, it was Dean and Biden who really stood head-and-shoulders above the field and commanded attention. (Dr.) Howard Dean had just come off his unsuccessful bid for the Presidential nomination during the “Sleepless Summer” tour in Iowa, which derailed in Iowa at the ValAir Ballroom in what infamously became known as “the shout heard round the world.” Howard Dean is now DNC Chariman, and the ValAir Ballroom derailing was nothing more than a dirty bit of Republican showmanship. (Ask Joe Trippi, his campaign advisor, if you don’t believe me). Howard Dean has been known to say a few things off the top of his head, to “lip off,” which he may later regret. And so has Joe Biden. But isn’t some candor refreshing after years of Darth Vader Cheney?

Here are a few quotes from Senator Biden’s Iowa appearance on January 1, 2008:

“I’ve been a Senator since I was 29. There are only 27 in history that have served longer than me. My Grandpa Finnegan would not believe this. Iowa is the last level playing field in American politics. You can’t do this anywhere but here. We owe you. The whole process owes you. Win, lose or draw, I’ll always be indebted to you. Absent you and New Hampshire, it’s all about the money.”

“I look forward to a country that is proud of its great heritage. The United States does not torture and does not condone torture. The world is not stable. George Bush has done more than mess up. He’s been the worst President in history…at least the worst in the twenty-first century. The next president has to know what they’re about. I am the only candidate with a specific, concrete plan to end the war (The Biden Exit Strategy creating a Federal State of Iraq.). Five years ago, when I visited Afghanistan, you could walk down the street. You can’t do that now. You have to stay in the Green Zone. We may be in the midst of losing Afghanistan.”

[This last nugget of information was seconded by a British Army member I met in Las Vegas recently, who had just completed his second tour of duty in Afghanistan and said that Britain would soon withdraw all its troops, as the situation was untenable and unwinnable.]

Biden: “You have the most dangerous and complicated nation in the region in Pakistan, armed with nuclear weapons. Their population is larger than Russia’s. It’s the place where Bin Laden lives, where the Taliban reside. Imagine a Pakistan taken over by 15% of the Muslim zealots. My God, the lack of focus we have! My god, what hat this President wrought? This is the single most consequential election of your lifetimes. If it’s about experience, well, heck, I win! There’s good change and there’s bad change. It’s not about change or experience. It’s about pragmatic action. Inaction is a decision in itself.”

Moving from the topic of national security, Biden noted that he wrote the Violence Against Women Act “back in the eighties” working alone, and that it took him six years to get it passed. He added, “Initiating change is about taking action.”‘

Biden also quoted the statistics that show him to be “the fourth most liberal Senator and the Crime Bill that helped him put 100,000 more policemen in the streets, with $10 billion of additional funds for the task. “I’ve gotten it done in the past, and I believe I can do it again.”

On the subject of Republicans, in general, Biden commented, “I’ve had it up to here with the moralizing on the part of the Republican party…Where in the bible does it say torture is good? How can a tax cut for the rich, while millions have no health care coverage and millions live in poverty, be good or fair?”

Biden ended that night by saying, “I can hardly wait to debate any of these Republican candidates. I can hardly wait. The test for the Democratic candidate for the Presidency is crystal clear: who can take these guys on and win? Who can turn this nation around?”

[For an exclusive AC interview with Finnegan Biden, Joe’s granddaughter, search the Associated Content archives.]

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House (or) From “Fredhead” to “Deadhead”

Jeri Kehn Thompson and Me: Beret DayFred gives an autograph in Davenport, Iowa, on the campaign trail.

When Fred Thompson announced on Jay Leno’s “Tonight” show on June 12, 2007, that he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President, ending months of speculation, his prospects looked rosy. A March 29th Gallup-USA Today survey showed Thompson running third, just behind John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, among Republicans in the race. Thompson’s poll numbers in September were in the high 20s and low 30s. By the end of the year, his poll numbers had sunk to single digits.Fred possessed a commanding stage presence, that familiar air of gravitas, and built-in national recognition from his movie and television roles. He also had been Minority Counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities, better known as the Watergate Committee, in 1973-74. Thompson was a lawyer and a former Senator from Tennessee, elected on November 8, 1994, to fill the unexpired portion of the term left vacant by Al Gore’s resignation. He was sworn in for his first term on 12/2/94.

Thompson was re-elected the Republican Senator from Tennessee in 1996. Responding to charges of “laziness” leveled against him throughout his career Thompson retorted in an article entitled “The Fred Express” in NewsMax magazine (September 2007 interview with John Fund, columnist for the Wall Street Journal’s OpinionJournal.com and The American Spectator): “That’s what they said about me before I ran for Senate the first time, and that’s what they said about me two years later, when I ran for re-election. I won the first time by 21 points, and by 25 points the second time. That was in a state that Bill Clinton carried twice. If you can do that while being lazy, I recommend it to everyone.”

What, exactly, happened, then, to the political Second Coming of Fred Thompson? Why didn’t his run for the roses, his political comeback, have a fairy tale ending?

There are several theories that help explain why, in Columbia, South Carolina on election night, Fred Thompson stood before his supporters for the final time, saying, “We will always be bound by a close bond because we have traveled a very special road, bound together for a very special purpose. We’ll always stand strong together, we’ll always stand strong together, and I can’t thank you enough for that.”

And, as the cartoon finale goes, “Th-th-th-that’s, all, Folks.”

Shortly thereafter, Thompson announced he was dropping his bid for the Presidency and, soon after that, he endorsed his old Senate colleague John McCain for the Republican nomination for the Presidency.

What went wrong?
(To be Continued)

Barack Obama Gives Speech from Richmond, Virginia

pc280632.jpgBarack Obama  Delivers Eloquence in Richmond, Before Virginia Vote

I heard Barack Obama giving a speech (from Richmond, Virginia) on CNN on Sunday, February 10th prior to Virginia’s Tuesday primary race on February 12th.  I was struck, once again, with how many people he constantly thanks. People like to be thanked.  I’m sure Tim Cane and Mark Warner and Doug Wilder and Bobby Scott and Jim Morain and Rich Baucher and Dick Granevald and Amy Rieger and all the others Barack was thanking so profusely were grateful. I remember that, when he appeared in Davenport, Iowa, he brought out all the young campaign workers and thanked each of them personally in front of the crowd. This “niceness” may well be a big part of Barack Obama’s appeal.

Said Obama, in the televised speech excerpt, “It has been one year since we began this race to the Presidency on the steps of the Old Capitol in Springfield, Illinois…I knew we wouldn’t be the favorite. I knew we would be the underdog from January till June. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But then something started to happen. Across this land, the message is the same: we are tired of being disappointed by our politicians. While Washington is consumed by the same distractions, another father puts up another for sale sign on the lawn…and it goes on and on and on and on and on. We become cynics. We lower our standards.”
And then, swinging into full Obama Oratorical mode, Barack said, “Not this time. Not this year. The stakes are too high. People want to turn the page. People want to write a new chapter. Yes we can! We won in (fills in blank with recent states of victory) and I believe we can win in Virginia on Tuesday (February 12) if you’re ready to stand with me and fight…”

Obama went on to use the “no more Scooter Libby justice; no more Brownie incompetence; no more Karl Rove politics” line I have heard him use in person. “We are gonna’ be unified as Democrats to make sure that we bring it in from the failed politics of George W. Bush. That’s how we are gonna’ win in Virginia and that’s how we are gonna’ change this country.”

Get this man a church! He is dynamite from the pulpit!

If you have the chance to hear Barack Obama, in person, do not miss it.  To wit: “There’s a moment in the life of every generation when we must act. Virginia, this is our moment. This is our time. You and I together will transform this country.” Chills.

I was instantly reminded of my all-time favorite Shakespeare quote, which I will (roughly) paraphrase for you here:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, if taken at the flood, leads on to fame and greater fortune. If omitted, all the voyage of our lives is bound in the shallows of misery and despair.” That’s not exact quoting, but it reminds of Obama’s eloquence and the sentiment is certainly similar.

You gotta’ love it! Unless you’re a Republican and you’re seeing doom in the upcoming November election trying to defeat Barack Obama, should he secure the nomination. The most charismatic speaker in a long time has come down the pike, and he’s intelligent, too!

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