Art Callaham: Race for the White House should be a doozy

May 13, 2012|By ART CALLAHAM

Well, it looks like we have ourselves a race — the 2012 presidential campaign flag is up, and with about six months until the finish line this race looks like a doozy. 

Now there’s a word we don’t hear too often — “doozy.” Do you know what it means?

Yahoo Answers explains it this way: “Etymologists are fairly sure that it (doozy) comes from the flower named daisy.  ... (daisy) was once English slang, from the 18th century on, for something that was particularly appealing or excellent. It moved into North American English in the early 19th century and turns up, for example, in Thomas Chandler Haliburton’s ‘The Clockmaker of 1836’: ‘I raised a four-year-old colt once, half blood, a perfect picture of a horse, and a genuine clipper, could gallop like the wind; a real daisy, a perfect doll, had an eye like a weasel, and nostrils like Commodore Rodgers’ speakin’ trumpet.” 

“Experts think that that sense — which was still around at the end of the 19th century — might have been (further) influenced by the name of the famous Italian actress Eleonora Duse, who first appeared in New York in 1893. Something ‘Dusey’ was clearly excellent ... and it is very likely that it and ‘daisy’ became amalgamated ... to create a new term.” 

The online Urban Dictionary points at pretty flowers and excellent automobiles: “Something extraordinary or bizarre. Etymology: perhaps alteration of daisy, and Duesenberg, a luxury car of the late 1920s and 1930s. It’s an English expression” that was Americanized.

Personally, when I think about the upcoming campaign, I believe the Urban Dictionary’s definition using “bizarre” better fits my opinion about the race.

Why will the campaign and race be bizarre? For the first time since President Carter ran for re-election in 1980, we have an incumbent with little or no positive record to run on. Couple that with the presumptive Republican candidate having been called out, by his own party, as everything other than a conservative Republican and you have two candidates looking for a voting base during the campaign.

Sure, Barack Obama is popular with folks; yet, by his campaign’s own admission, his support is shrinking — 75 percent approval on Inauguration Day 2009 down to 45 percent as late as April 30 of this year. Bad economy, high unemployment, higher gas prices, internal administration scandals, sketchy foreign affairs policy and U.S. troops still deployed all have taken their toll on Obama’s popularity.  “Hope and change” looks and sounds more like “rope a dope” in Muhammad Ali’s vernacular. All in all, a pretty poor record.

On the “fair and balanced” side, we have Willard Mitt Romney, who has no record on the national stage. A popular Republican governor in a traditional Democratic state, Romney has been labeled as “not Republican enough” to suit the ultra-conservative fringe in the Republican Party; while also not appealing to crossover Democrats because of his pledge to repeal “Obamacare,” which is close to his own “Romneycare” health initiative in Massachusetts.

So what do “no record” and “poor record” candidates do? Attack!  We are saddled with approximately six months of nonstop ads from both sides telling us what is wrong, bad, inept, wicked, ill-conceived, immoral, unconstitutional and every other “il/in/im” or “un” about the other candidate.

A good friend of mine, politically savvy and a political junkie just like me, posed this question: Why, with a population of 300 million Americans, and more than 150 million eligible to become president of the United States, do we end up with two candidates that, at least according to one another, have no redeeming quality or position that would make them the right person to become president?

Why can’t candidates spend their time and money telling voters who they are and what they will do if elected. I personally am not interested in what a candidate can’t do or why a candidate won’t do this or that, particularly if the can’t or won’t is expressed by the opposition.

Today, I’m solidly a Romney man. I believe that no record beats a poor record every time. However, I can only hope that Willard Mitt Romney will begin to tell us what he will do if elected. Whatever, this election is going to be a doozy.

Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library. Board of Trustees.

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