I really had other plans last Tuesday that involved my ongoing, futile attempt to keep weeds from growing in my backyard. Instead, I decided it was a much better (and less painful) use of my time to sit through last week's presidential debates.
Truth be told, I was hoping at least one person would stand out among the pack versus watching the debate turn into one huge soap opera.
Complicating the Republican race is the sheer number of people wanting to run in 2016. If I didn't know any better, I swear that you'd end up on that list if you even thought about wanting to run for president.
Apparently, just typing that last sentence just made me a candidate as well. I'm just joking... I think.
The Democrats don't have nearly as big of a problem since their list is pretty much down to just Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. On that side of the political fence, that race is a lot clearer and easier to follow.
What I was really wanting to hear during the debate last week was something I call "the presidential voice" -- a candidate that says "follow me" in such a way that you are willing to drop everything and join them. It's the voice that President Ronald Reagan used in 1987 when he said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
While I understand the cause of Ben Carson's recent rise in the polls, I honestly believe Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie had that presidential voice, which reached out to people on a very personal level.
I enjoyed Christie's introduction that evening in which he asked for the cameras to stop focusing on him and to turn their attention to what was most important -- the voters of this nation that will ultimately decide the fate of the presidential race. While the answers to his questions lacked substance, he came across as honest and sincere in his convictions.
Then there was Fiorina, who hit the proverbial bull's eye regarding everything that's currently wrong with this country. Her statement regarding the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood, for example, illustrated just how badly our society has morally decayed in just seven years.
Then there was her discussion on the legalization of marijuana that focused on her very personal dealings with the issue. Having to lose a child to drug addiction gives her a clear advantage over the other candidates, who seemed more focused that evening on which of them actually smoked pot during their lives.
I appreciated the discussions of using outlets like drug and DUI courts to help people overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol. Locally, we've seen this type of program work very well in Elmore County, and it's something that our next president should seriously look at adopting across our country.
Who knows? Maybe helping people deal with their addictions would help solve many of the other problems affecting our country.
Ultimately, what really had me worried during last week's debate all came down to one question: Which of these candidates would I entrust with safeguarding our country and having absolute control over the nation's strategic nuclear arsenal? Simply put, the idea of giving Trump access to these weapons isn't funny at all. It's actually terrifying.
I can just picture him telling Russian President Vladimir Puttin that he's "fired" before launching a preemptive nuclear strike. Envisioning how Trump would deal with Al Qaeda and ISIS is more disturbing.
In all seriousness, what was really missing from the debate was a serious discussion on how these candidates would revitalize the economy, tackle the threat of global terrorism and deal with the myriad of issues that directly affect the lives and well being of each and every American. While all of them outlined their plans to reform the nation's tax code, for example, none of them had any details of whether their ideas would actually work.
Just once, I'd like to have someone outline their plan and state exactly how much tax revenue it would generate. Most important, that plan needs to include whether those tax dollars would actually cover everything they want to fund.
Then there's the issue of the chaos on the nation's borders. While candidates like Ben Carson showed how easy it was to get into the United States from Mexico, none of them bothered to answer why so many people risk their lives to enter our country -- to get away from all the drug-related violence and economic strife south of the border.
Once someone on either side of the political fence outlines a sure-fire plan to deal with those two problems, I'll be ready to listen. Until then, I really wish the candidates would stop talking about building a fence along the border or trying to downplay it.
After all, anyone that desperate to get into our country would either go under or around that fence, making it pointless. Did anyone learn that lesson when the The Great Wall of China was built?
One thing that did come out of the debate was the mess our current administration caused in the Middle East by pulling our troops out of both countries just so the president could fulfil a campaign promise. The discussion of whether it was a good idea to invade Iraq is moot because we can't go back in time and change what we did.
The question now is how to destroy the terrorist threats that flourished once we left Iraq and Afghanistan. To be honest, I don't believe any of these candidates had any realistic ideas.
And don't get me started on all the furor over global warming, global cooling, climate change or whatever people are calling it these days. The United States has bent itself over backwards to control pollution and the release of greenhouse gases. When it comes to this issue, the United States isn't the problem. It's countries like China that are the biggest culprits, but I don't see them wanting to do anything to deal with the issue.
A few questions during the debate made me chuckle a bit. Among them was one in which each candidate provided what they felt was an appropriate nickname that the Secret Service would use to identify them. If Trump wins, I think they should call him Tinkerbell.
After all, he seems to think he can wave a magic wand at all the nation's problems and make them all go away. This is his weakness and the reason why we need someone else as the Republican front runner.
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With so many things happening seemingly at the same time as the community prepared to celebrate Air Force Appreciation Day, the newspaper unknowingly overlooked a number of individuals that volunteer their time to make the celebration not only successful but also a lot of fun. They include Ted "Bear" Winkowski and his wife, Nancy, who donated their time, energy and money to take a derelict fishing boat and turn it into one of the most recognizable features during the yearly parade.
Together, the couple spent more than four months turning a collection of spare parts and lumber into a pirate ship for the 428th Fighter Squadron Buccaneers. They christened the ship on Sept. 6, 2014, in time for last year's parade, and their hard work allowed our Republic of Singapore air force neighbors to sweep the yearly awards competition two years in a row.
I'd like to take a minute and personally applaud their achievement. It set a standard of excellence that will be tough to beat.
-- Brian S. Orban