Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ignorance and Impunity

The 2008 presidential elections will be historic no matter the outcome. America will soon have its first African American president or woman vice president. Yet today America is immersed in a serious economic crisis, mired down in two wars and our global leadership is teetering. In short, this will be one of the most critical elections in this nation’s glorious history.

Our founding fathers pointed to an enlightened citizenry as the best guarantee for a proper functioning republic. President Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked at our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree.”

With so much at stake you would think that “the mass” of our electorate would be well informed about the candidates. Americans have vast sources of information available to them in an instant, anywhere and anytime. Yet it is still amazing how many still accept as gospel pernicious gossip they receive in the form of emails or leaflets. Worse, even after hearing the truth, some refuse to alter their views, probably because they have entrenched biases and profound ignorance.

Recently I found myself in a political conversation with support staff at a prominent financial institution. One of them, an immigrant from Easter Europe who is a naturalized citizen, declared, “I won’t vote for Obama because he is not a U.S citizen.”

“Where did you hear that?” I asked.

“I got an email, I get all these kind of emails,” she said.

"He was born in Hawaii," I replied, "and if your charge was true McCain would have jumped on it long ago."

Earlier this week on “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart presented a brilliantly unsettling report by correspondent John Oliver entitled "Labels," as in liberal and conservative. Oliver talked to people at both McCain and Obama rallies.

“He is a Muslim,” said one McCain admirer of Obama, “it’s part of his history.”

Another offered this warning, “He’s going to put a turban on and he’s going to go in the White House and we're all going to be shocked.” A recent poll of Texas Republicans conducted by Texas A&M University found that 25% of the respondents believe Obama is a Muslim. Well, the truth is that Obama is a Christian. And so what if he was a Muslim, which he is not?

A few days ago, I ran into some folks in the construction trades where talk of politics has become more prominent lately. “If Obama is elected president,” one opined, “we are going to have terrorists in our country and America as we know it will be gone.” This guy is am immigrant who has only known America for a few years.

Of course, with charges and counter-charges being thrown by both campaigns, some dirt may stick. And some people just want to believe what they want to believe. But many potential voters are simply not doing their part to make an informed decision based on relevant facts. You would think that, after the economy collapsed, health care and education are threatened and our military is stretched thin, voters would make some effort to learn the truth about the candidates.

To paraphrase Santayana, those who don’t take time to learn history are condemned to repeat it. Better yet, President Thomas Jefferson warned, “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity."

Thank God It's Over

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays in four games to become Major League Baseball's 2008 worlds champion. Big deal. It only took four games and at least three rain delays, which were unfortunately more exciting than the actual games.

I have a few suggestions for MLB:

--Every World Series must include a team from one of the following cities: New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles. For instance, "the Red Sox and Colorado," "St. Louis and the Yankees."

--Teams with a total annual home attendance of less than two million for the regular season cannot partake in the World Series. Tampa Bay's average attendance per game was 22,259, or 52.8% their stadium's capacity,in spite of the fact that they were in first place for a considerable time this season. Under this rule Tampa Bay, Texas, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Florida and Oakland would not have qualified in 2008.

--Teams whose stadiums have ceiling rafters "in-play" are automatically out. Teams with a "green monster," ivy covered outfield walls, or a memorial park beyond the left field wall are automatically contenders for a slot in the series.

I have been a baseball fan all my life, more than six decades. This season the World Series was devoid of powerful stars and phenomenal plays. It was the most disrupted, delayed and suspended series ever. Neither team was inspiring on the national stage. It was boring.

To paraphrase New York Yankee great Yogi Berra, "this one was over before it was over."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Miracle?

Today's mass at St. Thomas More Catholic Church was said by Monsignor Thomas J. Shelley, who is also an author and professor at Fordham University in New York City. I like him a lot because his homilies are often timely and relevant. Take today's, for example.

I have an old story for you today. A man came to the rectory door one day where he was greeted by a priest. The priest asked the man, "How can I help you?"

The man said, "I am going broke, my business is failing and my wife is about to leave me."

The priest pondered this for a moment and then responded, "I am a priest, I really don't know anything about finances." But, being a priest, he offered some hope. "Open your Bible to any page, at random. Read that page and you will find an answer."

With that suggestion the man thanked the priest and departed.

A couple years later the man returned to the rectory and knocked on the door.

The priest answered the door, "How can I help you."

The man said, "I just came to thank you for the advice you gave me two years ago, it turned my life around."

The priest smiled and responded, "I am very happy for you, but could you remind me what my advice was?"

The man replied, "I told you I was broke, my business was failing and my wife was about to leave me."

The priest nodded.

The man continued, "You said to open the Bible and I would find an answer. I went home and opened my Bible. The first thing I saw was Chapter 11. So I filed for Chapter 11 and now I am once again wealthy, my business is a success and my wife and I have reconciled!"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Shooting Star

Ambition alone does not make a candidate worthy of this nation's second highest office, but it can sure get you far, especially when a campaign is desperate. However, Governor Sarah Palin would be well advised not to try to turn on her running mate, Senator John McCain.

This election Governor Palin employed smart tactics to get herself invited to the dance. Retaining a smart public relations adviser paid off for the Governor. Her name began appearing in just the right places, and she cultivated the right people within the Republican Party. She worked all the angles and, as a result, got the chance of a lifetime.

As revealed in the New York Times magazine this week, the process of selecting Palin short-circuited the normally rigorous scrutiny one would expect for such an important decision. Prior to her selection, senior McCain advisers spent two hours with her asking "questions based on vetting material." They had reviewed a tape of her appearance on "The Charlie Rose Show," where even they conceded she seemed out of her depth on some issues. She overwhelmed them with her consistency and confidence. She so impressed them that alarm bells didn't even go off when they asked her about the "Troopergate" matter and her daughter's pregnancy. In the end, they overlooked her lack of experience on national and international issues because she wowed them.

Senator McCain spent one hour with Palin on his ranch beside a sycamore tree and a local creek. What was he thinking? What was he asking her? Then, after a short meeting with McCain's wife Cindy, the Senator soon was going over the pros and cons with his top advisers. McCain, who prides himself on doing what his gut tells him, said "I'm going to offer it to her."

For the next few days she dazzled America with her presence, swagger and self-confidence. Conservative supporters were excited and engaged and the Republican convention was electrified. McCain/Palin seemed like a powerful antidote for a dispirited party. But soon it became clear that the Governor was limited, and not even $150,000 in designer clothes could hide her shortcomings. She couldn't answer questions on many important issues, reverting instead to talking points like reform and maverick. She became live bait for comedians and programs like Saturday Night Live. Many Americans gave her the benefit of a doubt, but the doubts were growing.

Palin has now gone from a big asset for the campaign to a major negative. Leading Republicans have publicly criticized her selection. All efforts by the McCain campaign to divert attention from her, including attacking the "main stream media," have not worked. Even a series of interviews with Republican commentator Sean Hannity, who tossed her softballs, confirmed her to be lacking in depth. If it looks too good, well, you know.

Now there is reason to believe Palin is turning on her benefactors. She is eager to consolidate the right and deflect blame for her predicament. No, Governor, don't do that! You are the architect of this mess. If you truly want to be admired, do something admirable. Be a good soldier and fight this battle to the end. Retain what good will remains in the hearts of your supporters. Then, after the election, work hard to prepare yourself for whatever national office you may aspire to. Otherwise, you are certain to be just another shooting star lighting the skies over Alaska.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Plumber vs. The General

I watched Senator John McCain on television speaking Sunday afternoon to an auditorium filled with supporters in Toledo, Ohio. At first I thought to myself what a nice moment. The fact is it seems there have been too few really nice moments at McCain and Palin rallies lately because they seem desperate.

Before long Senator McCain launched into an attack on his opponent, Senator Barack Obama, with great energy but little veracity. "Joe the Plumber is the only person to get Obama to answer a question," he flailed, "and he didn't ask him to come to his door." His door? "He didn't ask Obama to come to his house," he went on, "and he didn't ask for those political attacks from the Obama campaign." There were attacks by the Obama campaign against Joe? "No American should be attacked for asking a question of a presidential candidate," he steamed, "attacks on him are attacks small businesses across the country."

I rushed to YouTube to screen the more than five minute meeting between Obama and Joe. It was very cordial and Obama seemed genuinely engaged in the conversation. It took place on a campaign stop, not at Joe's house. And what of Joe? He has a lien on his house for not paying his taxes. I guess Joe just doesn't like taxes. And it is well known now that Joe is not a licensed plumber, he is not trying to buy a plumbing business and he does not make very much income.

Governor Sarah Palin used much the same thrust during her campaign stops Sunday. Praising Joe the plumber for asking Obama tough questions, Palin said Obama sounded like a socialist. Then she charged that Joe is being investigated for asking a question. Don't these candidates understand that they undermine their own campaign with these shoddy attempts to fire up their own base? Why can't they just offer some straight talk about their positions on the critical issues? Hyperbole is fine, but using this Joe the plumber seems misguided.

General Colin Powell, a true American hero, announced earlier in the day he would vote for Senator Obama. His thoughtful and articulate explanation on Meet The Press was filled with praise for both candidates. And Powell described McCain as a long time friend. An important factor in that support of Obama was all the negative campaigning he has witnessed from the McCain campaign. He also expressed his doubts about Palin's readiness for the presidency. On the other hand, he spoke of Obama in glowing terms. He had seen how the Illinois Senator has recently handled his campaign, citing his intelligence and steadiness through the recent economic crisis. "He is ready," pronounced Powell, "he has the potential to be an exceptional president."

Joe the plumber is the centerpiece of the McCain campaign. General Colin Powell's endorsement will now be an important factor in the Obama campaign. This pretty much sums up the state of this race with two weeks to go before the election.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Home Stretch

Senator Barack Obama reassured his supporters and converted a few independents with his measured and composed performance in last night's debate. On the other hand, Senator John McCain came out swinging, in an effort to appease his base, but overall he seemed exasperated and frustrated.

For sure, McCain had some good moments. For instance, "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago." No doubt a planned response, as was the introduction of "Joe the Plumber," now the most famous plumber since E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame. McCain's point was that if you raise taxes on small business owners, like Joe, the businesses would not be able to create jobs. But Obama reached right for the middle class in his response saying, "I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of working Americans."

Obama clearly had a plan going into the debate. While his performance was a bit slow out of the gate, Obama seemed thoughtful, steady and comfortable. He stared right into the camera when addressing the audience. He fortified his growing grasp on the middle class, especially with his position on health care. He established that the average health policy costs more than $12,000 a year, and then got McCain to admit he would tax corporate health care benefits. That admission no doubt sent alarm bells off in living rooms across the country.

McCain tried to paint Obama as the negative campaigner and himself as the victim. But Obama pushed back, "100% of your ads, John, 100% have been negative." Then McCain finally raised the specter of Obama's associations with Bill Ayers and ACORN, a controversial voter registration group, in a debate forum. Obama calmly offered his explanation and then pointedly said, "I think the fact that this has become such an important part of your campaign, Senator McCain says more about your campaign than it says about me."

After three debates with Senator McCain it is clear that Obama is a pretty cool customer. His performances have been consistent, steady and confident. He displayed a command of the facts and a thorough understanding of his positions on the issues. On the other hand, McCain's performance has been inconsistent, at times sarcastic and snide. Last night he failed to capitalize on opportunities and he failed to connect with "Joe Six Pack." Although Joe the Plumber and the Republican base may feel good about last night's debate, even Fox News analysts found little to praise in McCain's performance.

As the campaign heads into the home stretch, chances are voters will remain preoccupied with the struggling American economy, rising unemployment, falling wages, loss of wealth, escalating mortgage rates and record foreclosures. The earthquake on Wall Street has already had a tsunami like effect across the country. Everyone has pretty much lost confidence and the road to recovery is uncertain. This is their October surprise!

Americans are looking for a steady and confident leader who has a good plan and the ability to effectively implement it. I think most Americans have now decided who they want that leader to be come next January, and it's not Joe the Plumber.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Day Late, A Few Billion Short

Senator John McCain today proposed a $52.5 billion dollar economic plan that is a day late and billions of dollars short of his opponent's proposal. McCain did so while campaigning in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. His proposal would cut the capital gains tax, eliminate taxes on unemployment benefits and lower the tax rates on Individual Retirement Accounts. McCain also warned his audience to be wary of Senator Barack Obama because he has voted for tax increases "his entire career."

Yet McCain's proposal is smaller and less sweeping than Obama's, which he unveiled yesterday. "The one word that is on everyone's mind is J-O-B-S," Obama said in his announcement in hotly contested Ohio, which has been economically hard hit. Targeting the middle class, Obama's plan includes a $3,000 tax cut for businesses who hire additional employees, tax cuts for households making less that $250,000 a year, reduced penalties for borrowing from a 401K retirement account, and a 90 day moratorium on most home foreclosures. It appears that Obama has again trumped McCain on the economy.

As with throughout the recent economic crisis, Obama has shown strength, leadership and calm. McCain has appeared out of sync and flappable. He suspended his campaign yet campaigned. He tried to get credit for a bailout plan that he at the same time discredited. He even cancelled an appearance on David Letterman only to be caught in a little white lie. The McCain campaign has misused Governor Sarah Palin almost from the start. She has become a charming and charismatic pit bull with lipstick. Handlers crammed the former sportscaster with more stats than she has ever seen in her entire life both as a mayor and Governor. And, until recently, both McCain and Palin have stirred up the most hateful rhetoric directed to Senator Obama.

Senator McCain has lost his already precarious footing within his own party, especially those on the far right, whose frustration is growing loud and vocal. No wonder, McCain has ping-ponged from one strategy to another--experience, maverick, bipartisan, POW, American hero, reformer, tax cutter, "Surge" supporter, foreign policy expert and veteran. So Senator McCain finds himself falling way behind in the national polls as well as in thosefrom the many states President George Bush carried last election. And McCain's negatives are at an all time high across the board reflecting the tone of his campaign. Yet now McCain has Obama right where he wants him!

The truth is Senator McCain still has a real chance. If the stock market can drop 18% in one week, anything can happen. Some in the electorate remain uncertain about Senator Barack Obama. And, while more and more undecided voters are getting used to the idea of an Obama presidency, a major international incident, or an Obama gaffe, could change the current trajectory of the campaign.

Moderator Bob Schieffer: "Senator McCain, you have two minutes for your opening remarks"

Senator John McCain: " Thank you, Bob. Friends, I open with a question for Senator Obama. What's the deal with your pal, terrorist Bill Ayers? And can you go over that Reverend Wright thing one more time for the folks out there--this time in detail?"

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"That One" wins Round 2

Senator John McCain had to clearly win Tuesday’s debate in order to change the momentum of the presidential campaign. Senator Barack Obama had to look presidential and trustworthy in order to maintain his momentum. In the end, Senator Obama did what he had to do to reassure most voters.

“I think everybody knows we are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression,” Obama zinged, “ and I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, promoted by President Bush and supported by Senator McCain.” Obama seemed confident, presidential and smart throughout the debate.

Senator John McCain came out on the offensive. “Senator Obama, it’s good to be with you at a town hall meeting,” he sarcastically observed. His proposal for weekly town hall meetings had been turned down by the Obama team early on in the campaign.

McCain seemed, at times, to be condescending and arrogant. His body language indicated he did not believe Senator Obama deserved to be on the same stage with him. McCain often impatiently paced while Obama spoke. And, as in the first debate, McCain did not look at his opponent very much, especially when he was attacking him. “Senator Obama was the second highest recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac money in history,” he charged while looking directly at the audience.

Obama kept his eye on McCain most of the time and he appeared to be engaged in his opponent’s every word. “I never promoted Fannie Mae,” Obama briskly retorted, “In fact, Senator McCain’s campaign chairman’s firm was a lobbyist on behalf of Fannie Mae, not me.”

The economic crisis facing this nation took up most of the debate. There were dueling health plans, tax plans and economic stimulus packages. Of note, McCain mentioned Senator Joe Lieberman’s name but failed to mention his running mate. For her part, Governor Sarah Palin has become the campaign mascot, a pit bull with lipstick. This past week she has aggressively attacked Obama for his relationship with radical anti-war terrorist William Ayers. But, interestingly, Bill Ayers’ name did not come up in this debate. Maybe it’s not important after all (except to Sean Hannity).

Senator McCain overused the term “my friends;" after a while it sounded disingenuous. For instance, “my friends, I know you grow a little weary with this back and forth.” Or, in an historical reference, “my friends, the last president to raise taxes during tough economic times was Herbert Hoover.” That’s the same Herbert Hoover who, just before the Great Depression, once said, “no one can rightly deny the fundamental correctness of our economic system.” Does that sound familiar?

Senator McCain’s debate strategy came down to a couple basic ideas. “We’ve got to give some trust and confidence back to America, I know how to get America working again my friends.” And, of course, “I have a clear record of bipartisanship my friends.”

Obama’s demeanor during the debate was calm, smart and warmer than it had been in previous appearances. He appeared strong but never in an emotional way. McCain jabbed and parried. He often resorted to snarky comments that play well with the Republican base. “You know who voted for it,” McCain scorned about an energy bill recently before Congress, “That one.”

There is only one more debate and less than a month remaining before the presidential election. The economy is not a good issue for McCain and Republicans. The Iraq war and foreign policy are not good issues for McCain. Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright are a useless diversion for the majority of Americans.

McCain has come back from near death experiences before. But unless there is a political earthquake in the next couple of weeks, “That one” will become Mr. President!

And Republicans will begin preparing Sarah Palin for her 2012 presidential run.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

60 Minutes at 40!

60 MINUTES officially celebrated its 40th birthday last night at the Central Park Boat House. Jeff Fager, who is its current "brilliant" executive producer, hosted more than two hundred present and past staff members and friends.

Most striking was the presence of the creator and founding executive producer, the brilliant Don Hewitt, who recently underwent heart surgery. He was physically weak, ashen faced and crooked over at the hip. His usual energetic and booming voice was weak and strained. This is a man who once walked with great swagger, confidence and gravitas. This is the man who directed the 1960 presidential debates between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, and SEE IT NOW with Edward R. Murrow.

Hewitt had to be helped to the podium and he had difficulty reading the three pages of remarks he had prepared. With humor and great pride he spoke of his team of correspondents beginning with his co-conspirator, Mike Wallace. There probably would have been no 60 MINUTES had Mike Wallace not been involved.

In the mid-sixties, Don Hewitt served as executive producer of the CBS EVENING NEWS with Walter Cronkite. Hewitt had expanded the program from fifteen minutes to a half hour. But Cronkite did not like Hewitt because he did not think of him as a serious journalist. He called him a "showman," which was the worst denunciation for a serious journalist. Cronkite wanted Hewitt removed, and in time he got his wish.

One day, Hewitt was summoned to the front office. He was informed he was getting a "promotion" and would take over CBS News specials and development. He was told this was a newly created position. When Hewitt enthusiastically informed his wife of his "promotion" she said, without hesitation, "Don, you just got fired." At that point, Hewitt realized that Cronkite had pushed him off the evening news.

Hewitt cannot sit still, ever. In his new position he produced a couple news specials and came up with a new idea for a program. He thought to himself if there can be a Life magazine on the newsstands, why can't there be a news magazine on television. He came up with a concept, three long form pieces in a one-hour format. The anchors would be the reporters. And he talked Mike Wallace into helping him do a pilot along with the late Harry Reasoner.

Upon completion of the pilot, he had difficulty getting an audience with executives. Stories have it that when executives would see Hewitt coming down the hall carrying a big blue videotape container, they would duck into the bathroom. But finally he wore executives down and they decided, beginning September 24, 1968, to give 60 Minutes a Tuesday nighttime slot, biweekly, competing against the number one show in television. It was a rocky start.

There were only three powerful commercial television networks back then and the FCC was concerned about how the networks served the community. The "Vast Wasteland" were words that echoed through the American consciousness throughout the sixties; the 1961 words of then FCC chairman Newton Minow. In 1971, the Prime Time Access Rules were enacted, and in January 1972 60 MINUTES would occupy the Sunday "family viewing hour" set aside for informative programming. Within a couple years, fueled by oustanding coverage of the Viet Nam War and Watergate, correspondents Mike Wallace and Morley Safer helped lead 60 MINUTES into the top ten of all television programs. Since its launch 60 MINUTES has finished the television season as the top ranked program in household ratings a half-dozen times.

I was the CBS News executive in charge of 60 MINUTES from 1988 to 1995. The job consisted of screening their pieces for final approval before airing, and serving as marriage counselor for all of the powerful, competitive and talented correspondents and producers who worked on the broadcast. Correspondents such as, Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Harry Reasoner, Diane Sawyer, Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Meredith Vieira, Lesley Stahl, Bob Simon, Scott Pelley, Andy Rooney and later Christiane Amanpour, Lara Logan, Katie Couric, Charlie Rose and Anderson Cooper.

As Don Hewitt wrapped up his remarks last night to warm applause, Morley Safer stepped to the microphone and acknowledged Ed Bradley and Harry Reasoner, who even in death were still a powerful presence in the room. I looked carefully at Safer. I then looked over at Mike Wallace, seated at a table in front. Despite being ninety years old and weak, he had only recently retired. I then looked at Andy Rooney, seated nearby, and realized he is still working full time even though he will be ninety next January. These people have been my heroes, my icons for my entire adult life. And they created and served on the longest running television program in history, and the best television news program ever. Thankfully, because a great tradition of story telling has been preserved and re-energized by Jeff Fager, 60 MINUTES will provide outstanding content for at least another generation.

I am truly proud and grateful to have had a small role in the meaningful and important life of 60 MINUTES.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The 2008 Cubs

I didn't watch. Not even one pitch. The outcome was all too familiar to me. Cubs lose.

I almost got excited, but I contained myself. I knew if I became too involved, followed too closely, cared too much, I would feel pain.

I have had enough of this kind of pain in my life. No it is not about family, friends, or life or death issues like the economy.

Besides, I have kind of gotten used to it. Like that back pain I have had for forty years.

I won't point fingers or play the blame game.

Thanks for an exciting year Cubbies.

Wait til' next year!

Friday, October 3, 2008

O'Biden vs. McPalin

Senator Joe Biden was the experienced statesman and Governor Sarah Palin showed she is a very capable performer in their debate. Biden renewed the confidence of Democrats, many of whom were concerned he would make a gaffe. Palin redeemed herself among her supporters, many of whom were shaken by a recent series of disastrous television interviews.

Governor Palin seems to seldom lack confidence, especially when she is well prepared with campaign talking points. Her folksy demeanor is very appealing. Speaking to "Joe Six Pack" and "hockey moms across the nation," she tried to connect with Middle America using lines like, "it's so obvious I am a Washington outsider." She even winked into the camera a couple times and scolded her opponent like a local PTA mom, "Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again."

But Palin found herself pointing back to her record as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and her time as governor. "I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear," she said to Senator Biden, "but I am going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also." Of course, a month ago most Americans had never heard of Sarah Palin. She even admitted to the moderator, "And how long have I been at this, like five weeks." Long enough, though, to land a tough punch on Obama and Biden, "Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not what our troops need to hear today."

For his part, Senator Biden seemed a bit stiff at first. No doubt, he was very sensitive about making a mistake or coming off as condescending. But Biden successfully countered Palin's attacks on Obama, which accused him of wanting tax increases, failing to support the surge in Iraq and voting against funding U.S. troops. "John McCain voted to cut off funding for the troops," Biden retorted, "let me say that again, John McCain voted against (it)." And on Palin's praise of McCain as a reformer and "real maverick," Biden pounced, "he's not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around the kitchen table."

Governor Sarah Palin is smart, fresh and energetic. She is clearly ambitious and driven. Senator Joe Biden has tremendous experience on foreign affairs as well as on domestic issues. He has a long record of accomplishment in the U.S. Senate. Both come from small town America at very different times and from two very different regions of the country.

It is now pretty clear that the vice presidential candidates will not be a deciding factor in this election, even though they both exceeded their low expectations for the debate. Nonetheless, give careful consideration to which of these candidates is best prepared to step in for the president in the event of a terrorist attack against this nation or a major international crisis. God forbid that it should ever be necessary, but think about it.