There seems a point when politicians forget they were human beings long before they became politicians. Their language becomes stilted. They become afraid of saying anything nice about their opponent. Code words are used for campaign assaults, even on personal issues.
Voters always say they “vote the person, not the party”. I wonder how often they simply vote the nicer person. Consider these two episodes in Virginia and New Jersey. If you were voting for “the human” v. “the politician”, which way would you go?
First we go to New Jersey, where embattled incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine regularly makes not-so-oblique references to his opponent Chris Christie’s weight, but won’t roll out the “F” word:
Next we go to Virginia, where Creigh Deeds cannot bring himself to say anything nice about Bob McDonnell (H/T to Moe Lane!) in a Richmond Style interview. See question #17:
17. Can you name one good reason that someone should vote for your opponent?
DEEDS: [Long pause] You know, I can name you a thousand good reasons why they should vote for me. I’m the best-prepared person to be the next governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. … Bob is a guy that I’ve always gotten along with, but I get along with most people. I work hard to get along with people. I don’t agree with Bob on a great deal.
McDONNELL: He’s a good family man. He’s worked hard to represent his district well for 18 years. To me, he’s a good story of somebody living and accessing the American dream. You know, he tells the story about … first guy in his family to go to college with four $20 [bills] in his pocket and now he’s competing for the job held by Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. To me, that’s a great story. I think there’s a hundred reasons why I’d be a better governor than him, but for the way, and this is his own personal life story, the way he has told it — it obviously happened because of tremendous hard work, tremendous perseverance to be able to get to the level that he is at, and I think that’s very admirable.
Amazing…Deeds cannot bring himself to say even one nice thing about his opponent, while Corzine doesn’t have the nerve to explicitly say what everyone knows he is trying to say.
It’s one thing to vote the person-but sometimes folks like to vote for the nice person, the polite person, even the person who can make fun of themself.
If kindness and wit count for anything, then election day will have good news up and down the Atlantic seaboard for the GOP.