Continuing Top 5 Madness: Politicians

Continuing with requests for Top 5s, asked for Top Five Politicans:

  1. Martin O’Malley, mayor of Baltimore. He’s funny, he’s spunky, he’s cynical, he’s a somewhat liberal Democrat Irish-Catholic who has just retired from being the lead singer for a bar band. I was acquainted with him during my tenure in D.C. — the Post ran a legendary headline when he won the Democratic nomination in Baltimore, “White Man Wins Mayoral Nod,” but later also ran my favorite, favorite, favorite personal feature EVER on the cover of the Style section, “Charm City’s Mr. Charming; Mayor O’Malley Cheers Baltimore On,” on March 10, 2000 on the front of the Style section (I’ll provide the full text in my next post). That article hung on my wall in the dorm for at least a year, and has survived multiple moves. I like the guy because he seems to have a decent grasp of the practical and the political. I’m not sure if he will get to be president — the line in the story about his response to a judge is particularly damning — but if the worst thing a candidate has in his background is a tendency to respond to frustration with swearing and crude drawings, well, he gets my vote.
  2. Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas. OK, really, she’s getting to be on the list because she’s a *woman* *Democrat* governor of Kansas — not unheard of, but the last woman Dem we had was horrific. Also because I think she is basically the model of New Democratism, which, while I may not embrace it happily, is as close to a winning strategy as I’ve seen for the party of late. She’s managed to somehow deflect most of the stuff that the legislature has been trying to pin her down with, and that means she’s either very smart or surrounded by very smart people. I look forward to the 2006 contest.
  3. Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain. No, hear me out. Why I’d list him in my Top 5 is that Tony Blair, more than anyone, has taught me that my cynicism is not misplaced. Following news of his government has finally, finally cemented for me the idea that idealism, in politics, is dead. And it’s so interesting, because here’s a man who manages to float by simply because he offers the appearance of being a idealist, when in truth he’s as calculating and cynical and end-result oriented as anyone else. I think he’s the model for the New Politico, and I have enjoyed — perversely, perhaps — watching him slide up and down in power and popularity as he keeps claiming to do “the right thing.”
  4. Al Gore. OK, OK, my choices keep getting stranger, maybe, but I have loved Al Gore since the early early 90s. He epitomizes what I think a president should be — someone with experience and with a few key idealistic issues (environment, for instance) who has been around the block in politics long enough to know when to compromise and when to challenge. Everything I’ve read about his service in the Clinton years makes me like him more. I wanted this man to be president very, very badly. I would vote for him again any time, anywhere. He is the best example of my own political philosophy, and also captains the No One Should Get to Be President Without Appropriate Experience club of which I am a charter member.
  5. Of course, I find John F. Kennedy fascinating for all the same reasons I find Tony Blair interesting: he’s got a patina of ideology that covers a pretty ruthlessly rootless political monster. He also carries, for me, the fascination of a martyr, in a way, because he was for a long time the beacon under which the party tried to shelter in order to appeal to the masses. Yet I am perhaps that rarest of Kennedy admirers who a) likes him better for his flaws and his absolute inability to get things done (Presidential Paralysis fascinates me — I have a theory that I’m rolling around that we have set up a system that makes it nearly impossible for a very intelligent person NOT to be completely ineffective in office) and b) has no interest in the conspiracy theories surrounding his death. Finally, I like Kennedy because he was my start in politics, the first president I researched and read about and idolized, and for that, he holds a special place in my bleeding heart.

I also owe her “Top 5 Items At Home,” but that will have to keep for tomorrow.

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One Response to Continuing Top 5 Madness: Politicians

  1. therealjae says:

    The opposite of ‘idealist’ is not ‘cynic’, but ‘pragmatist.’ I think pragmatism is a huge virtue in a politician, but I think cynicism is a bad, bad thing.

    And yes, this means that the name of my blog is an oxymoron, but I think “idealistic pragmatist” pretty well sums up my political orientation, don’t you agree? 🙂

    -J

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