I've been on the beach. Not sunning myself, but in TV terms, I have not been actually "working."
I left CNN last summer and quickly discovered two new obsessions: Tennis, and Bikram (hot) yoga.
Oh, three obsessions actually. After 12 years doing some form of morning or overnight shift, I became obsessed with eight hours of sleep. Something I haven't seen since before Y2K shut down our world (errr).
But between doubles clinics and standing bow pulling pose, I checked in a lot with the coverage of the upcoming presidential election. And one thing that still strikes me from when I covered the 2000, 2004, 2008 presidential runs and the in-between mid-terms... Everyone is a "liar."
President Obama is a "liar," they claim... "He didn't shut Gitmo like he promised." Mitt Romney is a "liar," they claim. "He loved universal health care."
The pundits spin and the candidates triangulate and the mainstream press does its best to fact check (sorry, Paul Krugman -- newsrooms really try) and keep up with the accusations of flip flopping and broken promises.
But the bottom line is that any candidate who actually told the truth (or spoke from the heart) would be dead in the water, cannibalized by their own party and annihilated by the opposing one.
Look back in recent history -- let's say to the Carter/Reagan eras and find one candidate who had the exact same position while trying to secure the party's nomination in the primary as they did when trying to win the general.
Who? No one. Because our political/media system would never allow that to happen.
Primaries are decided by the extreme elements of the party. In many states, independent voters, who claim no party (like me) can't even vote in the primary (thanks, New York). Yet everyone starts to slide to the center to win in November. But what if candidates literally said whatever they thought? And gasp... believed?
What if President Obama said, "You know, we'd all be way better off if we had government-run health care. A system like Canada. Accuse me of being a socialist, but I think it's truly a good idea."
He'd get run out of town by conservatives.
What if Romney said, "Yes I do think that abortion should be banned in the U.S. under any circumstance." Goodnight Irene.
I looked back at all of the candidates I interviewed while anchoring CNN's American Morning in 2008... Barack Obama, John McCain, Hilary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Mike Huckabee, Bill Richardson, Rudy Giuliani, Dennis Kucinich, Sam Brownback, Fred Thompson, Christopher Dodd, Evan Bayh, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, Tom Vilsack, Fred Thompson, Tom Tancredo, Tommy Thompson and Ron Paul.
With a few exceptions -- notably Ron Paul -- most of these candidates speak like politicians and rarely answer a direct question if that answer could be controversial. Ron Paul answered my direct question, which was something like, "Do you believe that health care is simply not a basic right for every person in this country?" and he said something like, "No it's not. It's not the government's job to provide healthcare." Agree with him or not, he gave you his answer. He's also never come close to being the party nominee. Candidates that don't hedge, triangulate and talk in circles simply don't make it.
But what if more candidates did simply say what they think? After a while, couldn't someone be like the Great-Uncle at Thanksgiving who says whatever is on his mind and no one raises an
eyebrow? Pass the stuffing.
What if we could trust that our candidates would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? As a nation could we really handle the truth?