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Heart of the Matter
Informed choices
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The Democrats are off and running. The party has made its choices for president and vice president, but a lot of people still don’t seem to know much about John Kerry and John Edwards.

Why is that? Apathy, perhaps. Sometimes, we’re just too busy to take the time to find out what candidates are made of, what they believe in and what sort of leadership they are offering.

That’s why what has been going on at the Democratic National Convention in Boston this week and what will occur at the Republican National Convention in New York City next month is so important.

I always make a point of tuning in to the political conventions. It’s an especially good idea if you’re not entirely confident which way to go in an election year.

That, or you can log on to jibjab.com and watch “This land.” I’m not serious about that, though the satirical look at both candidates is an equal opportunity offender, very clever and amusing. Sadly, it’s probably as close as many voters will come to learning anything at all about Bush vs. Kerry.

In what probably is common chatter these days, a guy at the office said something along the lines of “They are both jerks so what’s the difference?” (I’m paraphrasing, but that’s as close as I can get without sounding like Whoopie Goldberg,)

Another coworker advised him to study the issues and find out.

Now you’re talking!

We’ve had four years of exposure to George Bush and his team. All Americans should have a pretty good idea by now what we can expect from their reelection.

Take it or leave it. Satisfied with their job performance? Should we be in Iraq? Could more have been done to prevent 9/11? Do you feel safe now, three years later? Do you have affordable, adequate health care? Should the government legislate personal relationships?

These are all legitimate questions as we look to the future.

In the months ahead, I’ll try to learn as much as possible about the challengers and their spouses, Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards.

Mom always told me, “You are judged by the company you keep.” So true, and from what I’ve seen, Teresa and Elizabeth are outstanding, well-educated, caring women who’ve survived devastating personal adversity, and who are bold enough to voice their opinions. Plus, they seem like they’d be a lot of fun to know. Their husbands are in good company.

Perhaps another reason Kerry/Edwards remain enigmatic to the general public is that they’ve lived their lives scandal-free, with no real smut linked to them. Haven’t heard any illicit skeletons rattling around in the closet. If there were any, we’d probably have been inundated with them by now. But then again, in the nasty world of politics anything is possible – true or imagined.

John Kerry will accept the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night. It’s our chance to give him the once over. Look and listen.

Bearing in mind the electoral college vote determines who wins the election, Florida is a very key player, with 27 electoral votes at stake. Only Texas, California and New York have more. At present, our state is considered a toss up, so expect candidates from both parties to stop in frequently between now and election day, Nov. 2.

I encourage you to pay attention.

Chary Southmayd is the editor of the Belleair Bee and Entertainment Extra!.
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