January 13, 2008

Hillary Clinton recently faced a question about her reaction to polls indicating that large numbers of potential voters would not vote for her because they didn’t like her. She responded softly that she didn’t understand it. She claimed that she believed that she had never done anything to generate such dislike.

True or not, that was the wrong answer. The appropriate reply would have been one I gave to a California friend who had told me that she could never vote for John Kerry. She just didn’t like the man.

I cannot comprehend why likeability should be a basis for electing someone. That should be the last consideration. What is the candidate’s philosophy of governing? If elected, how would he or she end the War, rejuvenate the economy, provide health care for all, end our dependence on Saudi oil, do something about global warming?

Those are some of the critical facts we should know before voting. Whether we would enjoy him or her as a dinner companion or for sharing a beer at a bar should be totally irrelevant. That was one of the criteria for voting for George W. Bush, and look what that got us.

Voters should know that there are charming rogues. Quoting Shakespeare, “One can smile and smile and be a villain still.” Ask yourself if Al Gore, with a previous reputation for having a wooden personality, would not have made a far better President than the present White House occupant.

In the present race, three very competent and experienced candidates –Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson — all dropped out because they failed to catch on. They all failed the likeability test. What a waste!

“Mr or Ms Candidate, do you share with me the same vision of steps we must take to improve our country and better our world? If not, take your smiles and your charm somewhere else. I am not voting for you.”

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