I may vote for someone I don’t like. John Edwards is a junkyard dog dressed in a collie suit. He is not a nice guy. But the last thing we need in the White House is someone likeable who lacks the savvy and ruthlessness to muscle through nice “plans.”

Behind the slick smile and underneath the $200 haircut is a man who personifies a familiar canine epithet. I like that, even though I don’t particularly like him. Why? Because tough times require very tough people, not just nice people with nice looks and nice plans.

Everyone running in this race has plans and positions. We pay far too much attention to their plans and not enough to the person who, if elected, will have to make the plans work in spite of entrenched, formidable opposition.

Any idiot can come up with a plan. It’s going to take a Superman or a Wonder Woman to bring about actual change. America and the world community now have the most complex, messy multiplicity of quagmires than at any other time in the last 40 years.

Adding “Change!” to the rhetoric will not do one thing. A crack team with heroic abilities is going to be needed to make change happen. On caucus night I saw many starry eyes and heard excited voices. In the past this has often been prelude to an era of incompetence and failure.

During the MSNBC coverage of Iowa’s caucus night, Chris Matthews was lamenting the fact that year after year, we keep having the same problems in America, we elect people to solve them, and everything remains the same. He attributed this to the vanity and egos of Washington politicians.

One of his “Crossfire” pundits, Rachel Maddow, countered his argument by saying that vested interest groups are the true saboteurs. She indicated that this continual thwarting of the electorate’s wishes will end only if we elect people who have the courage and skill to identify and fight these groups.

In a way, both Chris and Rachel were right. As a prime example, look at healthcare. If each of us had a medical voucher in our pockets for every time we’ve heard the phrase “healthcare for every American” during the last six or eight election campaigns, the whole country would have free comprehensive medical care right now.

Has the healthcare problem changed? Yes. It is worse. While we’ve been debating it for 25 years, the forces of managed care have moved in and cashed in. Good medical care has cashed out.

Let’s take a look at the candidates themselves, their personalities, motives, and abilities, with a bit of added attention to the junkyard dog factor. For just two minutes let’s quit talking about plans. And for God’s sake, let’s not bog down in silly trivialities such as likeability.

Hillary Clinton–On her most disappointing night since the failure of her healthcare reform plan (at least she tried, which is more than we can say for most of her critics), she put on a happy face and acted like third place in Iowa was just fine with her. She is a superb actress. So who is she? Shrewd politico? A 60 year old hippy? A lamp throwing fire eater? A skilled legislator? Pro- or anti-military? An ambitious little girl still trying to prove that her overcritical daddy was wrong about her? We already know she’s as strong and smart as any man. But does she know it? Or does she need the White House to prove it?

Barack Obama–Who is this guy, and where did he come from so quickly? He makes terrific speeches, hits all the right cliché buttons (nothing but clichés during his victory speech), has charisma, and is quick with clever one-liners. He made one lucky guess about Iraq–no pattern of wise, prophetic decisions, just that one. I like him much more than Edwards. Edwards didn’t even touch his wife during their joint announcement of her cancer relapse.

But so what? Are we electing a Mr. Congeniality, Husband of the Year, or a president of the United States?

Mitt Romney–Forget his religion. All of us have some beliefs that look pretty strange to outsiders. For some reason he reminds me of Eddie Munster, and that’s strange enough. This is a man who says he makes decisions by using “data and analysis.” Where have I heard that before? Hmmm. . . . Oh, now I remember. Robert McNamara, the architect of the Vietnam War.

Mike Huckabee–Another Southern Baptist ex-governor from Hope, Arkansas, this time an evangelical Republican. (Do I hear any bids for a third president from Midland, Texas?) I’d trust Mike to watch my wallet, but can I trust him in a room alone with that cocky, cold-eyed rooster in the Kremlin? Is Mike too nice to look Uncle Pute in the eye and say, “Get off my foot,” and knock him to the floor if he refuses? Or would he try to bring him to Christ?

John McCain–A true patriot and a real fighter ever since he was a very young man. A little old by calendar standards, but if the Hanoi Hilton couldn’t break him, I don’t think the presidency will either. Will he change his mind about Iraq? Can he master the intricacies of the healthcare labyrinth and butt heads with the insurance moguls? If so, maybe I’ll vote for him–a junkyard dog who is also likeable.

Or maybe I’ll just write-in Richard Nixon, scorned as Mr. Unlikeable, whose advice was solicited by every one of his successors including Bill Clinton.

Vote for a person, not a plan. The best laid plans of men and women always go astray if the implementers are just mice.

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