Paris Hilton sounds French and other political distractions ...
Is former governor Jeanne Shaheen showing her age? Is U.S. Senator John E. "Johnny Walker" Sununu walking away from his record? Which one is really doing the shoveling and piling it "high and deep"?
In the First District congressional race, does Carol Shea-Porter support the troops? Is Jeb Bradley for or against the teapot museum in North Carolina? In the Second District, where Jennifer Horn gets at least one endorsement a day, is Paul Hodes abusing his franking privilege? Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, where the issues went in the twilight's last gleaming?
Issues are not the issue in this year's presidential campaign. That is why, we may surmise, the McCain presidential campaign ran an ad early on that identified Barack Obama as the world's biggest celebrity. That is why they alternated images of Obama with those of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in the same commercial. (Would Britney defend America? Paris sounds French, doesn't she?) And the way to run as a candidate of character, of course, is to claim or at least imply your opponent doesn't have any.
Try as he might to weasel-word it, John McCain has clearly implied that Barack Obama is lacking in patriotism. For one thing, the "community organizer" did not - perhaps does not - support the "surge" of troops in Iraq that war hero McCain supported from the start. Obama, speaking before a crowd of 200,000 in Berlin (Germany, not New Hampshire) was "the picture of confidence," McCain said. "But sometimes confidence in self and confidence in one's country are not the same." So Obama lacks confidence in his country? Well, McCain didn't say that, did he? But the implication was clear. It was even less subtle than Hillary Clinton's response when she said that Obama is not a Muslim "to my knowledge." But who knows? (He looks French, doesn't he?)
Sometimes it's not just issues that vanish, it's whole candidates. Remember Joe Kenney? He hopes you will. I had hoped to introduce him to Republican State Chairman Fergus Cullen this fall. Why? Because State Sen. Joe Kenney of Wakefield is the Republican candidate for governor of New Hampshire. I think the chairman of the Republican State Committee should get to know him.
As of this writing, I get an average of two press releases a day from the N.H. Republican Committee. Typically, one will pertain to the presidential race, the other to the U.S. Senate contest. The gubernatorial race? Well, maybe 2010.
Does Fergus know that Joe is running? Does Fergus know Joe? The guy is not a half-bad candidate. He has a compelling biography, especially in a year when the Republicans are running a war hero for president. While a state senator, Joe Kenney, a Marine, has served in Iraq - twice. He is fiscally conservative, pro-life and he speaks well, with or without a script. And this gung-ho Marine is ready to tear the hide off Gov. John Lynch on issues ranging from state spending to the repeal of the state's parental notification law, a repeal both sought and signed by the Democratic governor.
But those are issues, aren't they? We're not doing issues this year. Paris Hilton may not like them. And Gov. Lynch rarely uses them. I mean, he's not Mike Dukakis of Massachusetts, who had some issues on his side but was seen riding in a tank and lost the presidential election 20 years ago. In New Hampshire, it is Republicans who are going into the tank and they will probably lose the sixth of the last seven gubernatorial elections this year.
They seem to have developed a talent for it. NH
This article appears in the November 2008 issue of New Hampshire Magazine