Of crashes, one political and one tragic

By Pat Watson Wednesday October 10 2012 in Opinion
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It was hard to stay interested in that face-off between the two American presidential candidates, U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, in their first debate. But I have a theory that the incumbent, Obama may have been lulling the challenger into a false sense of security in anticipation of the second and third meetings; the final one being on October 22, just two weeks before Election Day in the U.S. on November 6. After all, he comes from an African heritage of long distance runners, people who know that the race is not so much for the swift but for the sure.


It’s a tremendous gamble considering the 70 million that tuned in for the first debate are in a culture of fast food and sitcoms that resolve challenges inside of 30 minutes, including commercials. But then seeking the office of President of the United States is, in poker parlance, a ‘high stakes game’.


It has to be a strategy. The man, Obama, is a gifted and inspirational speaker. What else could explain his, let’s say, reserved and otherwise plodding presentation in that initial debate? Or perhaps he’s learned his lesson from the last go-round of over promising.


We all knew, or should have known, logically, that all the hope, hope and change, and hope for change, that was bestowed on the shoulders of this one man could not in reality be fulfilled. He said as much right after he was declared the winner of the awesome prize of the U.S. presidency back in November 2008. During that victory speech, there wasn’t so much exuberance from Obama, but an immediate call to recognize that hard work was ahead.


Last Wednesday, he seemed to be burdened by the over-expectations as they contrasted with the facts of his tenure. His promise of getting his fellow politicians from both parties to work together is now in tatters. Politics in America have become even more partisan than when Republicans had the knives out during the Bill Clinton administration and tried to have Clinton impeached.


There is nothing in Obama’s character that opponents could try to hang an impeachment on, so the alternative has been to stymie every initiative. Hence the recent unprecedented questioning of the job numbers that showed America’s jobless rate falling below eight per cent.


The average person would be facing burnout in that kind of poisoned work atmosphere. But a prerequisite for entering politics is to have the hide of an elephant and, moreover, a strong constitution.


But here’s the thing for a lot of observers even beyond the United States, for those in the Diaspora not directly involved in the U.S. vote: For Obama to be re-elected to a second term is a matter not just of politics but also of pride.


A note on impaired thinking…


There are hardly any words that can be found for the kind of shock and grief that has come to the family of Carol Grimmond of Windsor who lost her life on the weekend as the result of a car crash, allegedly involving an impaired motorist driving in the wrong direction.


Reports are that when the crash occurred Carol, 47, and her twin brother, Colin, were returning to their mother’s home after a happy celebration for their grandfather’s 99th birthday.


With all the publicity by the police and their programs of vigilance on highways, why would anyone drive while impaired by alcohol or other intoxicants? Because, before impaired driving comes impaired thinking. And that is what the law should be seeking to address.


A person whose mind is not befogged would be able to see reasonably that he or she couldn’t handle a complicated piece of machinery that requires good reflexes and sound judgment. As it is, some people’s judgment on the roads is already questionable without the addition of intoxicants. How much worse then while under the influence?


Motorists have to be stopped long before they reach for their keys, for it is clear that once they have put alcohol in their systems they no longer have the clarity of mind to make a sound decision about whether to drive or not.


The law has to be that there is absolutely no driving once you have ingested any alcohol. That may sound too strict to some, but it is clear that the loss of judgment comes after the first drink.


The family of yet another life lost because of impaired driving may not have said so, but would likely agree that if you drink, any at all, you have no business operating a motor vehicle.


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