I'm still not tired
By Larry Dreiling
As I write this, the final week of the 2012 election cycle is under way. Hurricane Sandy has altered or suspended the campaign plans of the candidates, who are locked in a dead heat in the national polls.
While I worry about folks who were in the storm's path, I have to admit the vaunted character known as an October surprise has arrived.
I love it.
Like General Patton said when he saw victory following a hard battle, "I love it. God help me, I do love it so."
What so many people who don't love it don't realize is that two guys who've gone through this battle for the hearts and minds of the electorate have girded themselves for the next couple of days for years. For the younger man, President Barack Obama, ironically, Nov. 6 marks the end of his last campaign. For the older man, former Gov. Mitt Romney, it marks what could be the beginning of an entirely new life for him, his family and the nation.
The education, preparation, experience each candidate brings is something all of us who vote have to consider. So, too, is the way those things shape the candidate, their individual character and worldview that creates their outlook toward governance.
While much of our primary coverage area has, for a long time, been pretty well decided how it will vote, there are two states we cover--Colorado and Iowa--that could wind up being the big enchilada for these men. Think of it like a Rose Bowl, with a Pac 12 school or a Big 10 college being the deciding factor, not in a national championship, but in the leadership of the world.
The responsibility placed on these two states is enormous, which is why millions of advertising dollars have been spent in each state by campaign committees and outside influence groups. Yes, it's tiring for folks in those states to see ads not only for the presidential candidates, but also for candidates for Congress.
In Iowa recently, I caught a half-hour newscast in which one candidate was featured in three consecutive 30-second ads, one by his own committee, and the other two by outside groups. All three were negative ads against the opponent.
It must be exhausting for many to watch that much negative advertising.
But I'm not tired.
I view each ad, pick them apart, analyze them like a jeweler examines a fine watch, and discover what's true and false. It's been fun to see who's telling the truth and whose pants are on fire.
Likewise, throughout the long process we have been seeing who makes verbal blunders, those unscripted moments of honesty that come through and give light to a candidate's true beliefs. We also see candidates try to backtrack on their previous statements so that they look less extreme or shallow. That again shows where their true selves are.
It has been a long campaign. For the most part, we all know whom we're going to vote for, so much so that many of us--this reporter included--voted early.
I've been fortunate in this job to travel to more than 20 countries, and if there is one thing I've learned through those travels it is that we have a precious country that needs us to act upon the rights given us by the Constitution and the people who swore to preserve, protect and defend it, sometimes through their lives.
That's why if there is one thing I love more than covering politics it's voting. It's one thing no big money super-PAC or candidate, no spouse or partner, no boss or bigwig can dictate. Just yourself.
Even in many of the deep red or deep blue states, where the presidency has already been determined, there's lots of elections for state offices, county offices and, for sure, even a dog catcher or two.
Yes, as Bob Schieffer's mother would say, "Go vote. It makes you feel big and strong."
Above all, it reminds me of a saying an old Legionaire shouted to us guys at Boys State back in the summer of '75.
"If you don't vote, don't bitch."
So, feel good, earn your right to complain. Vote.
Then you can be tired.
Until the next election.
Larry Dreiling can be reached by phone at 785-628-1117, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.