Metro-East Living

You’ll get his vote if you can spell ‘liaison’

There are many reasons that I have never considered running for an elected office.

Here are my top three:

1. I march in only one parade per year, on St. Patrick’s Day.

2. I’m not very good at asking others for money or support.

3. And I don’t enjoy debates, participating in them or watching them live or on TV. I respect any person who gets involved in public office. But I get no thrill from watching them debate.

I’ve never watched a political debate that influenced my vote, one way or another.

Local or national, I would prefer candidates skip debates and play “Name That Tune” or sports or old TV-show trivia.

Maybe a spelling bee. If you can’t spell “Mississippi,” maybe you shouldn’t hold public office. Same for tough words like “primitive,” “allegiance,” “liaison,” and “leisure.”

And know when to use there, their or they’re correctly.

I’d like to know a candidate’s music preferences. I’ve read that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at the songs on his iPod. I immediately went home and deleted all Taylor Swift songs off mine. I added some more Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, and Rolling Stones. If someone finds my iPod, they’ll at least think I’m somewhat cool.

What do you think about when you listen to Don McLean’s “American Pie?”

Or Led Zeppelin’s, “Stairway to Heaven?”

I would like to know a candidate’s favorite TV shows. I’d favor the old-school candidate who prefers “The Andy Griffith Show,” or “Green Acres,” or “Sanford and Son.”

Body language is critical in debates. Bet on it. If debating, at some point, I would roll my eyes, yawn, or touch my nose on stage. You know what they say: On camera, a wipe looks just like a pick.

I’m mostly Irish, so I wouldn’t shine when remarks hit low points. Make a wisecrack about my family or friends and I would be red-faced, trying hard not to ask my opponent if he wanted me to wipe that wry grin off his rich, little pug face.

I would rather watch a debate, though, than participate in one.

For the record, my official debate record is 1-1. Both debates came in the early 1980s when I was a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The elective class had something to do with political science and government affairs. For extra credit, we could sign up for weekly debates on key college issues. Of course, I needed all the extra credit I could get, late in the quarter.

I lost my first debate by a landslide. The subject was whether SIUE should construct a big, multi-purpose athletic facility and recreation center. I was all for it. My reason: So commuter students like me could have somewhere else to hang around on campus besides the student center or library.

My opponent was a cute, perky female who had done her homework. She cited increased tuition and taxes that would be needed to pay for the new center. She smiled a lot. Spoke confidently, articulately. She was organized, impressive, smart — everything I was not.

Lesson: When it comes to debates, cute, smart and perky will win every time over a guy with red Afro hair and high-top Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes who says “um” a lot.

For the record, years later they built the facility, but no thanks to my public support.

I won my second debate, though, about two weeks later. It was on campus parking tickets. I recommended a day of amnesty for students who had dozens of tickets hanging over our heads and would not be allowed to graduate until all fines were paid. I spoke from my heart. I even smiled a few times. Had some fun. Begged. Joked. Winked.

My opponent looked like Sergeant Vince Carter on “Gomer Pyle.” He basically said if you don’t pay your college parking tickets, you should go to jail, much less not graduate. It’s the law. Vince made it easy for me.

Lesson: Always speak to your audience. If your opponent is annoying them, say little and allow the opponent to keep digging a deeper hole.

That was my last debate a few decades ago, and I’m satisfied going out on top, with a win.

Debate questions

Thirteen simple questions I would like to hear answered in a political debate that would influence my vote:

  • 1. Cards or Cubs?
  • 2. Blues or Blackhawks?
  • 3. Favorite snacks: Salt or sugar?
  • 4. Favorite season? (Fall or autumn is an instant “yes” vote. Spring and summer, OK. Winter worries me.)
  • 5. Are you concerned most about being politically correct or just correct?
  • 6. “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays?”
  • 7. Mountains or beach?
  • 8. Best catcher not in the Baseball Hall of Fame? (The only answer: Ted Simmons. Anyone else and you lose my vote.)
  • 9. If you had lunch with Stan Kroenke, what would you talk most about — sincerity, real estate or pro football?
  • 10. When it comes to ice cream, do you prefer shake, sundae or concrete?
  • 11. Did you ever do anything really stupid in the 1970s or 1980s that you conveniently have forgotten about for this debate or when your children are in the room? (Obvious answer, of course, is, “Sorry. I don’t remember….”)
  • 12. Favorite animated children’s movie?
  • 13. Jack Buck or Vin Scully?
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