Who says January pales in comparison with the excitement of Christmas? Maybe no one, but I've always thought so. This January has already brought several things that cut through the clutter and landed in the forefront of my ever-expanding mind.
First, and this may elicit some disgust from many of you, Dr Pepper now comes in Cherry Chocolate Diet Dr Pepper! I couldn't be more excited as I have always enjoyed sodas with weird flavor additives - Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, Cherry 7Up and my personal, yet hard-to-find favorite, Schweppes Raspberry Ginger Ale. (Recently I enjoyed a Clearly Canadian at the Fondren Beverage Emporium - a must-stop for anyone in the Jackson area.) I don't recall ever tasting a chocolate-laced cola before, but I am looking forward to this for sure. Keep all groans and barf noises to yourself, please, and let me enjoy this one.
Secondly, every good Mississippi girl awaits the January issue of Mississippi Magazine, a.k.a. the annual Wedding Register. For those of you poor souls that are unfamiliar with this jewel of an issue, I'll explain: brides from all over the state (and sometimes grooms that are Mississippi boys) purchase a page (or two for the really sassy) in Mississippi Magazine to publicize their Big Day. Each bride provides pictures and a few hundred words of text describing her wedding. And it's all fine and good until you run across a treasure where the bride's dog was her maid of honor or the groomsmen wore camouflage tuxedos. There's quite a system for perusing this publication - first, scan for people you know, photos both attractive (Maggie, yours were gorgeous of course!) and abhorrent, etc. Next, settle in for a long winter's read - this is when the real entertainment begins. Some people devour the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, Mississippi ladies devour the Wedding Register.
Finally, unless you've been living under a rock for the past year or so, you've been feeling the ever-increasing burn of election season. Claire and Yaya this topic with a certain flair, and I figured I'd take my turn on mic. (Didn't we just have a presidential election, by the way?) Stations like CNN and Fox News inundate us with campaign coverage, poll numbers, candidate bios and any skeleton that can be unearthed from years and years of public service (or lack thereof). Each face has a message, and everyone who fancies himself a political brainiac forces his two cents into the living rooms of the American public.
I think I've been very clear in my support of this perhaps most important civic duty, but I don't think I'm alone in feeling the loss of idealism in our political process. CNN has to-the-second polling numbers, and RealClearPolitics.com claims to have a happy medium - the averages of all the polls out there. Doesn't anyone just want to be a public servant and do what's best for the USA instead of practicing partisan politics and under-the-table arrangements with lobbyists and the like? Between the mudslinging, the schmoozing and the baby-kissing, how does one voter like myself step back and take an objective look at all the Prez wannabes? Will we be able to vote FOR a candidate this year instead of voting AGAINST one?
I've lined out below some basic info on who seems like the frontrunners in each party along with a little comment of my own (you didn't think I'd leave that out, did you? I tried to be objective) and what I've dubbed their theme song. I am no political phenom, and I may be eating my words in the future, but here it is...
Red Elephants (Republicans)
We all know Rudy Giuliani, and this may be a double-edged sword for him. Every candidate should expect some scrutiny, but the two-term mayor of NYC and supreme leader of the city during 9/11 is under a mega-microscope. Probably the most left of the rights, his stance on abortion and same-sex unions has stirred up some controversy among his party. He's a great wordsmith and has a strong emotional tie to many Americans. My impression: His third wife Judith may come to be a liability. Once perhaps considered a shoe-in, he's got a ways to go if he wants to land the nom. "Frasier" likes him. Theme song: "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias.
Mike Huckabee hails from Arkansas (remember Slick Willie Clinton?), where he was a Baptist preacher before Governor of The Natural State. Sort of the grass roots dark horse and the comedian of the campaign, he's garnered support from the Tyson Foods guy and none other than Mr. Walker-Texas Ranger himself, Chuck Norris. My impression: He did win Iowa, but he may still be a little too George W. Bush-y for a lot of people. Those of you wanting change may not find it here. Just a thought. Theme song: "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver.
Arizona Senator John McCain is a true war hero and was very much a hunk in his younger years. This super-conservative has run before and even beat out the W for a couple of states in 2000 before winning New Hampshire this year. He's intense and clearly bleeds red, white and blue. My impression: I think he'd really like to disintegrate parts of the Middle East and start over. He'd take good care of the country where terrorism is concerned, but keep his finger away from the nuke button. Theme song: "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Mitt Romney looks like a President - tall, good hair, well-dressed. He's been the governor of Massachusetts and has about a billion kids and grandkids. I heard on the radio yesterday that he's been CEO of a bunch of companies and would be a qualified face for foreign relations, but he represents everything that is establishment. He's raised a lot and spent a lot, but he's also got tons of his own money. My impression: His Mormon faith has hurt him. Americans just don't know or understand the religion and are concerned it could creep into his policy. Theme song: "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt.
Fred Thompson, you know I love you. You are the only pretend New York District Attorney I've ever loved, but I'm not buying you as President. I want to. Please change my mind. Fred's been skipping states here and there, losing support left and right, and didn't even enter the race until months after other candidates. His wife is the hottest spouse out of all the candidates. My impression: I don't know if his heart's just not in it or if he just assumed he'd get the support he wanted. I'm disappointed. Theme song: "The Thrill is Gone" by BB King.
Blue Donkeys (Democrats)
Does Hillary Clinton even need her last name? Brilliant, methodical and tough-as-nails, she's been running for President since the early 90's when it was her husband that was officially on the ticket. Experience is her strong suit; likeability is not. Probably the most "love her or hate her" candidate out there. My impression: If any woman can handle being President, it's this one, but I'm not sold that even she could. If she lands in the White House again, she better have 24-hour detail on Bill. There's a new crop of interns in town. Theme song: "Im Just a Girl" by No Doubt.
John Edwards certainly has campaign experience - you remember him as Swiftboat Vet target John Kerry's running mate in '04 - but he seems to lack the charisma he had then. He, too, has tons of his own money at his disposal, but it looks like he won't even carry his own home state of South Carolina. My impression: When his wife announced she had cancer, he should have graciously stepped out of the race. However, he's clearly not happy as just a running mate and wants to be the Big Cheese. Theme song: "I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story.
New kid on the block Barack Obama has ignited the flames of change like no other candidate out there. He's well-spoken, attractive, clean-cut and sharp as a tack - perhaps dangerously so. He's peaked the interest of young voters, Hollywood and now has the O Factor on his side. If Oprah can do for Obama what her Book Club does for authors, her Midas touch knows no bounds. However, I heard a commentator say that he's a great campaigner but would make a lousy President. My impression: If he doesn't get the nomination this time, it's because of his lack of experience. He'd probably make someone a good running mate, and he won't be giving up any time soon. Theme song: "Take a Chance on Me" by ABBA.
(Photos courtesy of CNN.com)
So, there they are - the red, the blue, the good, the bad, the ugly and the pretty. Still confused? Take this quiz that Kristen sent me today. You may be surprised - I was...