Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Presidential Candidate, the First

I work for a large multinational corporation. Often I feel slightly guilty about this, especially having grown up in Berkeley where joining such an entity is about the worst thing you could do. However, one of the perks is that we get excellent speakers who show up to talk to us. Many times I hear someone being interviewed on NPR and know that I have an appointment on my calendar later that day to hear that author in person. As election season comes upon us, we're also starting to get all the various candidates in. I've never attended one of the political talks before so when I saw the invite to see Bill Richardson last week I didn't quite know what to expect; however I'd heard good things about his experience and I've been wanting to find out more about him so I took the opportunity to go see him.

I'll thought I'd share a few thoughts about him with you, in no particular order:
  1. Overall, I was disappointed. I don't want to vote for a president just because he has stage presence and charisma, but boy it sure would help to have a little bit if you're going to be on the world stage. Unfortunately Richardson came across as your kooky uncle who regales you with anecdotes that bear only passing resemblance to relevance and was pretty forgetful on top of it all.
  2. I'm a technology snob (see some previous posts) and I have to say I couldn't believe that http://billrichardson.com does not go to Bill Richardson's election campaign! Instead it goes to a landing page that I'm sure is making someone lots of money.
  3. When you do go to his actual website at http://richardsonforpresident.com/ there's no search box! The feeling of panic I had in the pit of my stomach when I figured this out is obviously extreme for a normal person, but still, this is pretty egregious.
  4. On the other hand, his website did have a few really funny ads where he pretends to be having a job interview.
  5. Richardson started his speech by telling us that he wasn't going to give us his stump speech because we were too smart for that. I have to say, I'm too smart to fall for the "you're too smart" speech too.
  6. He then went into a rambling discussion of some of the issues that he thinks are important. Often throughout the talk he would say he had three points to make and only make one or two. He also discussed a lot of issues about things that were relevant to New Mexico but not really important in Seattle (like water rights)
  7. Every once in a while he would turn on the charm and say some pretty funny things, like "I’m not a rock star" (if you'd seen him you'd know why this is funny) and "my consultants hate me to use the word 'sacrifice' as part of my energy policy because it sounds like I'm turning into Jimmy Carter...are you going to wear a sweater?" and “Chavez is not a stable guy”
  8. There were a few areas that he seemed really passionate about, but the one he kept saying he was most advanced of all democratic candidates on was about his energy policy. When you read his website it sounds reasonable, and he kept saying that we need a policy like Kennedy's race to the moon to solve it, which of course I agree with. Unfortunately several people asked him questions about it but he never articulated any substantial ideas other than saying we need to mandate carbon limits and that NM was the only state that was following the rules of the Kyoto Protocol. This was the same for his policy on education.
  9. Twice during his talk he forgot words and had to yell for his advisors to help him remember what various things were called (for instance, he forgot the name for the "100 mpg car" that he claimed credit for - the name is "100 mpg car" so it's not like it's really hard to remember)
  10. In the intro, the gentleman introducing Richardson said that he'd been nominated for the Nobel peace prize four times. As has been pointed out, though, nominations for the Nobel peace prize are kept secret for 50 years so we have no way of confirming this, and furthermore all it takes to get nominated is for any government employee to add you to the list.

As I look back on this list of random thoughts, it sounds like the talk was worse than it actually was. However overall I was disappointed and I'm hoping that the other candidates who come through (especially the democratic ones of course) impress me a bit more. If you have any thoughts on Richardson and why I should re-evaluate, I'd love to hear them.

No comments: