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Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood


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Arizona Daily Wildcat

John A. Ward

By John A. Ward
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 23, 1999
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This past Sunday, I had an opportunity to sit in on a debate between a group of misunderstood men whose personas are in need of re-evaluation. The debate that I sat in on was the Arizona Republican debate held at Arizona State University.

While the debate started at 8 p.m., my companion and I took our seats about a half hour early. While sitting, I occupied myself by thinking about the four men who would shortly occupy the stage in the Gammage Auditorium. Each one had a preconceived persona that was accompanying him at this debate; a persona that each of the attendees already knew.

I, like the others, had my preconceived notions about the candidates. For instance, I prepared myself for the cold, stiff Orrin Hatch; the goofy Steve Forbes; the straight-talking, hot-tempered John McCain and the peripheral Alan Keyes.

However, I should have prepared myself for a very different set of men, because that is what I got. Before me was a group of fine men who broke the molds of the personas ascribed to them by the media and who thoroughly impressed me with their insight, wisdom and knowledge.

Orrin Hatch was not a stiff, cold man who only cares for white, Republican men. He was a man who truly cares about all Americans. He even had a little more charisma than people would expect. Hatch persuasively argued his positions like opposing gun control and opposing the liberal use of American troops abroad ("America is the global 911 operator".) He opposes these issues because he deeply cares about the American people, but unfortunately for him, it is easy to be misunderstood when one takes these positions on these issues.

Likewise, Steve Forbes was more than the goofy guy with the crooked smile. He showed himself to be a funny man of fast wits and a sizable intellect. Getting past the fact that he is a little goofy, Forbes is a man who has such a well-thought-out plan for America that goes far beyond the flat tax.

People and the press attack him for being a two-dimensional candidate, but he is truly a multi-dimensional candidate that the country would benefit from listening to if they would only listen.

John McCain showed a side that I had yet to see. I was surprised that he was a seemingly laid back type of guy who had a real sense of humor and liked to provoke a chuckle out of the audience every now and then.

Moreover, he showed himself to be a man who, just like the rest of the men running for president, at times skirts issues a little and offers vague responses. He has been labeled as a straight-talking politician who never dodges an issue but he has his moments too. This is not offered to discredit him, but to exemplify that he has the skills that are necessary when holding an important elected position like the presidency. Many may disagree, but I believe that all good presidents need to be proficient in how to skirt issues sometimes, for our own good.

Lastly, there was Alan Keyes. Keyes is a man that most do not know of and most would just consider peripheral and insignificant to this entire political process, but he is not. Alan Keyes showed the spectators at Gammage Auditorium what he was made of. Keyes is a man of great intellect, depth and a hysterically, funny sense of humor. Keyes was able to take the serious questions hurled at him and answer them in a way that was direct yet always entertaining. He had the audience in stitches, because he exposed the government's downfalls in a way that was so clear and candid that one could not help but laugh.

He was a candidate who, just like the rest, had a very comprehensive plan for America; he has much to offer voters, but the fact that he is not seen as a serious candidate truly limits the marketplace of ideas.

For those of you who have already made up your minds about these men, I encourage you to take a closer look at these candidates. You may be surprised at what you find. I think you'll see that these men are not two-dimensional characters, but complex and multi-faceted. What you find just may surprise you.

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