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The joke's on the voters.

UP TO MY furrowed brow in candidate interviews, I was beginning to feel a lot like Woodrow Wilson when he uttered: "You hear politics until you wish that both parties were smothered in their own gas."

Then he walked in, another candidate for the state legislature. The affable and polite older gent looked normal enough. But then he started to talk. Actually, he wasn't talking so much as reading -- reciting canned answers scribbled on 3-by-5 index cards.

The only things more ridiculous were his off-the-cuff responses to questions for which he didn't have prepared cards. What those answers lacked from superficiality, they more than did not make up for with logic or facts. For instance, he said abortion is illegal. He explained to us that Roe v. Wade was not the law in most of the land, but that it was the exception to the rule. The more opportunities we gave him to rescue himself, the worse it got.

As for his positions on several issues he would face if elected, he said he was waiting to see what our newspaper was going to say in our editorials before taking a stand. That was his response, too, when we asked him about the controversial state proposals that would appear on the same ballot as his name. In fact, he wasn't even sure which proposal was which or what they would do.

Over the years, I've encountered many uninformed candidates -- but nobody running for the state legislature could be that ignorant of the facts, I thought. No serious politician could be that out of touch. If ignorance is bliss, this candidate was in nirvana. The more he talked, the harder my colleague and I had to bite our lips to keep from bursting out in laughter.

For one fleeting moment, I thought maybe this was a practical joke. Unfortunately, the joke was on the voters. The guy was planted, all right -- but by a political party to serve as a martyr against a virtually unbeatable incumbent. I felt sorry for him.

But I felt even worse for voters -- especially those who craved change, or at the very least, a real choice.

NCEW member David J. Fenech is editorial page editor of The Flint Journal in Michigan.
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Title Annotation:uninformed political candidates
Author:Fenech, David J.
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Mar 22, 1993
Previous Article:Voters can't pick 'none of the above', so we don't either.
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