It's a wise old rule of the heart, too often forgotten: When you choose a spouse, remember that you're not just marrying a mate - you're also marrying into a family.
There's a corollary that's worth remembering when you enter the voting booth in November: You're not just electing a president. You're electing an administration and the party that will staff it up....
You'll be choosing a head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is supposed to police Wall Street unless it decides to close its eyes and let the gamblers run the table. You're choosing a head of the U.S. Forest Service, which protects national forests from developers, unless it's headed by developers, and of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, whose scientists keep track of the terrifying trends in the earth's climate while dodging the anti-science bullies of the Republican Congress.
You're choosing the head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, which was led at a key point during the last Republican administration by one Michael 'Brownie' Brown, whose professional background was in show-horses, a pursuit that seems to have quite a following among Republican politicians.
You're choosing a pool of Supreme Court nominees. The next president will likely decide whether the court's pro-life faction is enlarged to the point where it can overturn Roe v. Wade. Ironically, this is the same pro-life faction that would rather risk executing an innocent man than risk setting a murderer free.
And you'll probably be choosing a foreign policy team that yearns to resurrect the cowboy diplomacy of the George W. Bush administration, which did so much to discredit American leadership in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere....
Just look at Romney's leadership field. In the GOP-led House of Representatives, Space, Science and Technology Committee Chair Ralph Hall of Texas believes human activity can't impact the global climate because 'I don't think we can control what God controls.' Science investigations and oversight subcommittee chair Paul Broun of Georgia said in a September 27 speech that he believes 'the earth is about 9,000 years old' and 'was created in six days as we know them,' and that 'evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.'
The farm team is even weirder. In Arkansas, the GOP-led legislature has a pair of members, Jon Hubbard and Loy Mauch, who are openly nostalgic for African-American slavery (you read that right), and a former member running for his old seat, Charles Fuqua, who favors enacting the biblical law of executing 'rebellious' children by stoning.
This, then, is the crux of the choice this November: Whether to entrust our government to a party that believes in sensible governance or one that doesn't. It would be better if we had two parties with two rational approaches to governing, rather than one that's for it and one that's against it. Competition is a good thing. But that's not on offer.