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    Who are the NERD fund donors Mr Snyder?

    Raise the curtain.

    Levin vs. Switalski: The Monkey Sword Fight

    By Ken Braun, Section News
    Posted on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 02:07:43 AM EST
    Tags: Sandy Levin, Mickey Switalski (all tags)

    (Promoted by Nick... Aladdin is the third best Disney movie ever, by the way.)

    In politics, it's no surprise when the nice guys finish first.

    Read more.

    Surprise news today is that Michigan state Sen. Mickey Switalski, D - Roseville, has set his sights on taking out Michigan's 12th district Democratic congressman, Sander Levin, in the 2010 August primary.

    Reading the reaction to this on Michigan Liberal, I am reminded of the chase scene from the Disney animated film Aladdin. Abu, Aladdin's tiny monkey sidekick, gets hold of a sword and momentarily holds off a large pack of burly ruffians trying to catch him.

    "He's got a sword!" shrieks one, as they all cower in fear in the face of the tiny armed monkey.

    "You idiot!" reminds another. "We ALL have swords!"

    The ruffians then draw their own swords; the monkey puts down the weapon; runs off; and the chase continues.

    Why does this remind me of Michigan Liberal talking about a Levin/Switalski primary clash?

    First this...

    Now, I admit that I know virtually nothing about Switalski beyond what the article says, but apparently he's a serious candidate with real political and fundraising skills.

    And then this...

    Now, I personally think that Sandy Levin is awesome. I've met him several times; while stuffing envelopes for his son's race in 2006, Sandy took Taco Bell orders from the volunteers and personally went out to pick up the food. That's right, an incumbent U.S. Congressman once voluntarily went out and picked up fast food for me! Like I said, very low-key, very personable. His son's a great guy as well (shame that he lost the race). I even met his wife Vicki once back during the 2004 Presidential primary, and remember her as being very nice as well...

    And finally this...

    I haven't kept track of Levin's voting record (I live in the 9th district, where we just kicked out Republican Joe Knollenberg in favor of Gary Peters, yay!!), so I don't know if there is any cause for concern there (though I highly doubt it).

    First, disclosing my own bias: I don't care who wins this race. I profoundly disagree with both of them on the issues that matter most to me. But this missive isn't about bashing Democrats -- it's about how naive Republicans and Democrats are both easily duped by personality rather than substance. (A few years back, had I thought of it, I probably could have written this same article about a GOP partisan applying similar analysis to the Walberg/Schwarz race.) What matters more is that what we have here -- passing for a mild endorsement on a website that usually cares about the ideology of these candidates -- is instead the most childish criteria possible for selecting one politician over another: "He's a nice guy."

    Uh, huh. That's because he's a politician. You don't get elected to congress if your natural inclination is to rub people the wrong way. So, if you're just a regular voter, Sandy Levin and every other politician is almost always going to come off as a nicer than average guy when he's on your doorstep (that is why campaigning 101 places so much value on direct contact with voters.)

    And if you're a campaign volunteer helping his son continue in the family business, then Sandy Levin is going to be an extra-special nice guy and run off to get you some Taco Bell. It's NOT that big of a deal. Being impressed by any of this is like being one of those sword-bearing ruffians in Aladdin who is in awe of the monkey: "He's a nice guy!!!!"

    But they're ALL nice guys!

    People who are not politicians themselves don't usually get this. Politicians spend much of their waking hours worrying about whether at least half of their neighbors like them better than any other neighbor likely to seek the same office.

    There's no way to exaggerate the point that normal human beings do not act like this.

    Most of us do not care whether most of the people in our congressional district even know we exist, let alone whether they like us slightly better than somebody else who lives nearby. But politicians? They are genetically wired to care about this, and care about it A WHOLE LOT.

    That's why they turn into ... nice guys. Absurdly, un-naturally, nice guys. Almost all of them, all of the time, every day.

    This doesn't necessarily make it an act, mind you. But more importantly, it doesn't make it anything special, either. Where normally you would use the "nice guy" vibe to decide who to trust, with politicians it should be the LAST thing you care about.

    I've never met Sander Levin, but I got to know Mickey Switalski a little bit when he was in the Michigan House of Representatives. I worked down the hall for a Republican lawmaker. Shortly after I took the job, Mickey came down to visit, at a time when he had reason to know that only the lowly staff might be in the office. He introduced himself as "Mickey," casually noted that he worked down the hall and chatted me up for a few minutes of very friendly talk.

    It wasn't an act, as the scene would repeat itself in countless other encounters and retellings from other people. Everybody who has ever met him thinks Mickey Switalski is a super nice guy.

    And I confess, I really like Mickey as well. Does that make him a better choice than Sandy Levin? No: It matters as much as the color of his shoe laces.

    So, don't let this be you when deciding which candidate to trust in a primary that you care about. The next time you find yourself impressed by a politician solely on the basis of them being nice to you in person, remember: All of the monkeys have swords and you've learned absolutely nothing new.

    And, more importantly, this false sense of appreciation for a politician you know so little about should be your cue to look for reasons why you disagree with all of the candidates in the race. (And if you don't find these reasons, you're probably not looking hard enough.) Only after finding all of their warts can you compare them on things that really matter, and thus ignore the entirely trivial issue of who spent more time saying nice things to you.

    (Also posted at Charlie Marlow's War.)

    < What A Trillion Dollars Looks Like | Ivory Tower: 'Russians finish second; Americans second to last' >

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    Can't use "monkey" (none / 0) (#1)
    by Theblogprof on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 08:02:32 AM EST
    Using the term monkey has been banned altogether by Rochelle Riley of the freep (except in relation to Bush). It's obvious to her that the use of the word "monkey" in your headline is a racist dig at Barack Obama.

    Thank you and have a nice day

    -PC Police

    A suggestion for the PC Police (none / 0) (#2)
    by The Wizard of Laws on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:21:41 AM EST
    How about "evolution-challenged" instead of monkey?

    Amen, Brother! (none / 0) (#3)
    by totoraib on Tue Mar 24, 2009 at 09:44:42 AM EST
    Well said!

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