As the nation gathered its skirts to make a choice in November 2008 about who would lead the nation after 8 years of national security mistakes, economic and financial problems resulting from tax and financial policy miscalculations , and stasis on most domestic issues including healthcare and education, in addition to fears about selection of Supreme Court Justices, the American population began to firm up its views.
This was not the first such crossroads of such vital importance in American history. The elections in 1860 and 1940 were crucial -- but this crossroads appeared to have more serious and complex issues occurring at the same time than in the past. Almost everyone in the country in some way wished those problems would "just go away" and take care of themselves. But rational thought made clear that the problems were not going to be wished away because they were amazingly complicated and difficult and would require the very best in America to have an even chance of success over time.
The Democratic Party had an 18 month debate between two very smart, experienced contenders and although their "policy "differences were slight, the winner was seen to be the more articulate, better-organized candidate.
The Republican Party also had long, and at times, contentious primaries and the person, who emerged, interestingly enough, was a person whose reputation cast him as a maverick, but who also sought to pose run against the problems that his own party leaders had been creating.
The race between the two initially shaped up to be between a young, extremely smart, articulate Senator and an older, politically experienced maverick, fighter pilot hero. The contest looked like it would be between opposing political views of national and economic security and youth vs. experience.
Without warning a new element was parachuted into the race. A young, attractive, spirited woman with energy, charm and pizzazz was made VP candidate to run with the old political maverick. It was a recipe for excitement and the political picture changed, suddenly and dramatically.
Yet, nothing substantive had changed. The problems of the country remained the same, the ideas of how, or how not, to proceed with the problems of the future remained the same, but much of the electorate was seized by emotions about personality and the issues seemed to fade away.
The challenge became how the country could be brought back to its senses and make rational electoral judgments not personalized emotional choices.
For several weeks the young Senator clung to his belief that the hot flames of passion for the young opposing VP candidate would burn out under an intense spotlight and serious questioning. For a brief time it seemed that strategy might work.
As the election drew closer, it became apparent that something more and different was required to break the emotional hold the young VP had over a growing portion of the electorate.
Then things started to get interesting. The young Senator commissioned a series of brilliant ads that gently, humorously but pointedly exposed the reality that the country was about to fall for a fantasy in a sexy box. Next, the young Senator boldly broke with tradition and began to announce some of his selection of major cabinet choices, which represented the most powerful, experienced, prestigious collection of people the country had ever seen in one cabinet. It was a game-changing move and helped bring the electorate's attention back to the basic problems and issues which needed tackling.
It was a scary time but, in the end it turned out all right. The young Senator was elected and he along with his cabinet performed exceptionally well over the next 8 years. The maverick senator sadly died not too long after after the election and his attractive running mate went back to her state and was ultimately defeated for reelection as Governor because of allegations of misconduct while she was in office.