Benjamin, Aaronson, Edinger & Patanzo, P.A.

Front runners

Last year at this time it was assumed that John McCain would be the Republican nominee
for the White House.  All of the polls showed that he had a commanding lead on any would be
challengers.  He had set up an organization nationwide and looked like he couldn’t be stopped.

Just two months ago, Hillary Clinton appeared to have sewn up the Democratic
nomination for the Presidency as almost every poll had her with a prohibitive lead nationwide
and double digit leads in Iowa and in New Hampshire, the first caucus and first primary States
respectively.  She also had the political machine in place and looked like she couldn’t be stopped.
Yet, as we enter 2008 and the beginning of the primary season, it is nearly impossible to find a
State in which John McCain leads in the polls and Hillary is fighting to keep pace with her two
main rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

There are many reasons why these two front runner have slipped.  Most likely, they were
never as popular as their poll numbers reflected earlier on.  Rather, the earlier polls reflected
name recognition and strength of the political machine instead of actually people’s choice as who
they wish to be President or at least a nominee.  Also likely, is the fact that these front runners by
the very nature of being a front runner are scrutinized more heavily, are quoted more often and
their imperfections are magnified before others are even scrutinized.  But regardless of the
reasons and there are many others, the one thing that these two candidates have shown us is that
we should never let the pollsters determine who the inevitable winner is and that we shouldn’t
waste our votes on other candidates that don’t have a chance of winning.

It should come as no surprise to those of you who read this column, that most likely we
will be voting for whomever is the Democratic nominee.  This may not be as much because of
our true allegiance to the Democratic party as much as our fear of another Republican President
destroying the little that is left of what this country once stood for.  Having said that, we do have
a disagreement between ourselves as to who we wish the Democratic nominee to be.

However, the one thing we do not disagree with is that the race for the nominee in either
party would be much different if the political pollsters didn’t tell us who the top tier candidates
were, who has no chance of winning, and why we must vote for either Edwards, Obama or
Clinton in the primary for our vote to matter.  If we were on the Republican side, our comments
would be the same as to why we only should be voting for Giuliani, Romney or McCain.  As you
may note, we have left out Huckabee.  Not because he cannot win the election, but because up
until just several weeks ago he was not one of the anointed ones on the Republican side.

When we talk to other Democrats, some have reported that they believe in and like what
Dennis Kucinich has to say.  Yet, to a man or a woman, they tell us that they can’t vote for him
because he has no chance of winning and they don’t want to waste their vote.  Other people
including one of the writers of this article, has expressed that of all of the candidates on either
side of the aisle running for the nomination for Presidency that Joe Bidden seems to have the
foreign policy experience, demeanor and intelligence to be the next great President.  Yet, the
same refrain occurs with those voters, “He has no chance of winning so which one of Hillary,
Borac or John do I vote for”.

Since most of our friends are not Republicans or if they are they do not admit it to us, we
do not have as much personal interaction and experiences to make the same statements as to the
Republican nominee.  However, there is little doubt in our minds that the same is being said
about Ron Paul and the other second tier candidates on the Republican side.

Just for once it would be nice if people were blinded to the polls.  Just once it would be
nice if people weren’t told that their vote was wasted because they voted for the person that they
think is the best.  Just for once, it would be nice to go into a political season with everyone
starting off even, with no front runners, and see who really is the one favored by their respective
parties.  To this end, no matter what side of the aisle you believe in, no matter whether you are
conservative or liberal, atheist or religious, just vote for who you truly believe is the best man.
After all, isn’t the essence of democracy, voting for whom you choose, not for who you think
will win.  This is not Las Vegas and you don’t get money for picking the winner.  This is
America and your vote only matters because you are voting, not because who you voted for wins.
Maybe in this manner we truly would know who we want to be President.

On another note, much is being said in the news and in Congress as to the interrogation
technique of water boarding.  First, let’s get one thing straight.  Water boarding is torture.  We
declared it to be so in 1947 when we prosecuted and convicted Japanese war criminals for using
that technique on our soldiers.  If it was torture then, it is torture now.  Further, somehow we
have gotten so myopic that we believe if we do it, it is not torture, but you better believe, if we
found out our troops were being subjected to it, it would be torture.

Now having said that, should water boarding or other forms of torture be used as an
interrogation technique?  Our gut feeling is of course not.  Aren’t we more of a humane country
than one that believes in torture?.  Haven’t we signed onto the Geneva Conventions that
outlawed this type of behavior?  Don’t we claim to have the moral high ground and moral
authority over all other countries on earth to do the right thing?  If that is so, then how can we
condone torture or water boarding?

Yet, the equation is not so simple.  Although torture and water boarding may be
repugnant, and in fact experts claim that it leads to more often than not false information, is there
a time and place for its use?

As the Commander-in-Chief of this country, if you were to find out that a nuclear bomb
had been planted some place in the country, let’s make it you home town.  Whatever that home
town may be.  You knew that there were 3 hours, 5 hours, 7 hours before it would be detonated
and when it went off thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions would die
and the person that planted that bomb was now in custody would you not use even torture to try
to attempt to get that information.

Sure, given a long period of time to interrogate, there is no need for torture, there is no
need for water boarding and in fact the experts seem to all agree that other means of interrogation
are more fruitful.  However, given that limited period of time does not the Commander-In-Chief
have a duty to the citizens of this country to use any technique or every technique available in
order to discern that information and thereby save those thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds
of thousands, or millions of lives.

These questions are for you to decide.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion on these
matters.  However, we want our decisions to be black and white or cut and dry.  Sometimes
though the world is not just black and white, sometimes it is gray and sometimes whatever
answer you give is just the wrong one.

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