From January 22, 2004: Jack gets political

On the John

Jack gets political

Originally published in the Indiana Daily Student on January 22, 2004

As a lifelong sports fan, I’ve absorbed mountains of useless information without ever really trying. Want to know how many points Michael Jordan averaged in the ’93 Finals? 41. Wonder who led the Bears in rushing in 1998? Edgar Bennett. Can’t quite recall the name of the outfielder who hit three opening-day home runs for the Cubs in 1994? Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes.

Unfortunately, this vacuum memory only works when I’m interested in something, which is why I sometimes have trouble transferring it to school.

But I am becoming more and more interested in politics, and with a presidential election less than ten months away I’ve shifted the majority of my sports-following time to the election.

And you know what? I’m having a blast.

The move from ESPN to CNN isn’t too much of a leap. Both have multiple stations and a terrific Web site, and I’m finding Lou Dobbs to be just as entertaining as Chris Berman. Like checking stats and standings? I do. Instead of checking the bottom of the page for the Bulls, I now enjoy checking CNN.com/ELECTION/2004 to see the updated standings in the Democratic primaries. The race has momentum changes, underdogs and upsets, and it all leads up to the Super Bowl of politics: the November election.

While I still don’t have a complete grasp on everything I’m watching, the biggest question for me is not which candidate will receive the Democratic nomination, but rather which candidate has the best chance at knocking Bush out of office. The answer to that question probably lies within the three candidates who topped Iowa: Sen. John Kerry of D-Mass., Sen. John Edwards D-N.C. and Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont.

Until early this week, I did not know much about Kerry or Edwards, but after hearing them speak, both have jumped ahead of Dean for me. All three candidates are running on a platform of “taking back the country,” and while they all seem sincere in their anti-Bush stances, I am drawn more to Kerry and Edwards because they seem a little more sincere about supporting the ordinary American than Dean does. Edwards in particular seems legit; I had no problem believing him.

So far, my impression of Kerry is similar to that of Edwards, except that Kerry is older and less exuberant. I’m not necessarily deterred by this; I’ve liked what I’ve read about Kerry thus far, and he certainly has a passion for our country that cannot be faked. As the weeks move on and I learn more, I’m sure these two candidates will differentiate themselves.

As for Dean, he made headway early by denouncing Bush’s decision to go to war and by capitalizing on online polling. When Al Gore endorsed him, Dean became the front-runner. But there is something about Dean that seems untruthful, despite his straight-forward approach. His abrasiveness bubbles underneath his every word, and his frightening smile reminds me of a sci-fi character who is posing as a human but is actually an alien or a robot. I’m not saying he’d make a bad president, but I’d certainly like to know more.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t vote for him. Even with Dean’s shortcomings he is still an impressive candidate, despite his third place finish in Iowa. Any of the three aforementioned men are fine with me, and as I learn more, I am excited to find each one fresher and more intelligent than Gore.

Obviously, I’m no professional political analyst. I’m just a 22-year-old kid who is finally seeing politics affects my life a tad more than sports. I’ve drawn these conclusions after only a week of paying attention. Draw your own, take an interest and hopefully, we’ll send Bush back to Texas.

Copyright 2004, jm silverstein

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