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January 16, 2008 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-16

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4A -Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
The Daily's public editor, Paul H. Johnson, actsas the readers' representative and takes a critical look at
coverage and content in every section of the paper. Readers are encouraged to contact the public editor
with questions andcomments. He canbe reached at publiceditor@umich.edu.
Uncommitted t udents
Lack of candidate attention explains low student turnout
What do Ron Paul, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich
have in common? Other than extreme political ide-
ologies, they are the only presidential candidates who
visited the University before yesterday's primary. The meager can-
didate attention afforded this campus has robbed students of the
opportunity to interact with a seemingly remote political process,
made even more remote by the national parties. Not surprisingly,
students returned the favor: Voter turnout in precincts largely
dominated by students was only about eight percent.

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

I don't know how you put Humpty
Dumpty back together again,
but certainly he has tried to do it
- Lou Cannon, a Ronald Reagan biographer, speaking about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
and his efforts to unite the conservative movement, as reported yesterday by nytimes.com.
Aprimary not worth holding


ongratulation$ to the estimat-
ed 1.5 millionvoterswho made
the trip to the polls yesterday
for Michigan's pri-
mary: Courtesy of
the Democratic and
Republican Nation-
al Committees, you
participated in a
meaningless and
Forgive me GARY
for being a little
undemocratic, but GRACA
Michigan would
have been better off
if it hadn't held a primary at all. Tak-
ing this year off would have saved the
state millions of dollars and left Mich-
igan as uncharted territory for the
general election. Instead of becom-
ing a bottom-feeder, scrapping for
any kind of primary influence it could
muster, Michigan could have been a
leader in the beauty pageant of swing
states come spring.
Sure, the founding fathers might
be collectively rolling over in their
graves at the idea of a state govern-
ment voluntarily disenfranchising its
citizens in an election, but consider
this: The DNC and RNC basically
already did so. The DNC stripped all
of Michigan's delegates to the Demo-
cratic National Convention because it
leapfrogged its primary into January.
The RNC slapped Michigan on the
wrist by stripping half of its delegates.
All Michigan's state legislature had to
do to sell the disenfranchisement was
play the blame game.
Although they are usually "free" in
the sense that citizens have the ability
to support candidates without fear of
political retribution, what many peo-
ple forget about free and fair elections
is that they don't come cheap. Despite
having less than half its delegates,
Michigan still paid full price for the
election, which is expected to add up
to an estimated $10 million and could
end up costing even more.

A costly but meaningless election
shouldn't go over well with cash-
strapped Michiganders. The state
legislature didn't need to shell out
another $10 million to hold an elec-
tion for two political parties that
wouldn't even save its seat at the
national nominating conventions.
Nothing obligates Michigan to hold
primary elections.
Some argue, though, that Michi-
gan's primary was important regard-
at the conventions. The key feature in
this argument is momentum. Thanks
to Michiganvoters, native-sonRepub-
lican candidate Mitt Romney received
the firstbigvictory of his underachiev-
ing campaign.
But momentum isn't as pivotal if
it's expected, and Michigan's results
fit the script perfectly. With John
Edwards and Barack Obama absent
from the ballot, Hillary Clinton was
a shoe-in for the win. The media
might have built up John McCain as a
threat to Romney, but realistically he
was always a long shot. Romney has
too many Michigan connections. His
father, George Romney, was a popular
governor here in the 1960s and young
Mitt grew up here. You can't beat the
Maybe what Michigan wanted yes-
terday wasn't about results or influ-
ence. Maybe it just wanted a little
attention, which it got. Michigan was
briefly courted in the national spot-
light like it had so selfishly desired
when it moved its primary ahead of
New Hampshire.
However, it's a stretch to say that
candidates were taking Michigan
seriously. On the Republican side,
Romney, McCain and Mike Huckabee
managed to find time in the last two
days to parrot a few stump speeches
across the state. Bowing to party pres-
sure, none of the major Democratic
candidates even bothered to show
up. Michigan's exposure wasn't even
close to the months of door-to-door
canvassing with which all of the major

candidates, including Democrats,
swooned Iowans. Rivaling Iowa and
New Hampshire was the goal of hold-
ing Michigan's primary early, and it
turned out to be a failure.
Voters, probably unknowingly,
tipped their hand in a different way,
too. Included in the law establish-
ing the new primary date is a section
that allows the DNC and RNC access
to lists of the people who voted in
their respective primaries. For par-
ties in a state without partisan reg-
istration, this is a wealth of useful
information when trying to decipher
voting trends, the legality of which
was upheld by the Michigan Supreme
Court in November 2007.
Early primary was
better for
parties than state.
If Michigan had skipped the pri-
mary and held out until the general
election, it would have been a mys-
tery state. It would have been more
difficult to gauge whether the state
would go Democrat or Republican;
support Clinton or turn against her;
buy into Obama's message of hope or
discard him; and identify with Rom-
ney's Michigan roots or see his fraud-
ulence. These answers aren't always
easy to find in opinion polls because
they depend on people not only car-
ing but also caring enough to act. But
we got partial answers to these ques-
tions yesterday, which ruins our mys-
tique a little.
The sad truth is, not having a pri-
mary would have been better than
having half of one.
Gary Graca is an associate
editorial page editor. He can be
reached at gmgraca@umich.edu.

In November, the state seta primary date
of Jan. 15, a violation of party rules. The
Democratic and Republican National Com-
mittees both struck back, rendering the
state almost irrelevant. With Republican
candidates offering a weak effort at best
and Democratic candidates avoiding the
state entirely, the chances of luring the likes
of John Edwards and Barack Obama to the
University became slim to none.
Being located in a pivotal swing state
should have been reason enough for a
politically active campus like this one to
warrant some candidate attention this
primary season, especially from Demo-
crats. In 2000, Democratic nominee Al
Gore came to the University for a question-
and-answer session with students, and in
2004, candidates including Howard Dean
and John Edwards at least planned to visit
campus, even if they later cancelled. These
candidates recognized the willingness of
University students to participate in the
kind of issue-based dialogue that prima-
ries usually lack.
In the past, candidates have also recog-
nized that student enthusiasm translates
into votes and victories. This is a strategy
that worked for Obama in the Iowa cau-
cuses, where 57 percent of voters under
30 years old caucused for him. Where stu-
dents weren't propelling him to a victory

by caucusing, they were organizing the
get-out-the-vote effort, a pivotal part of any
successful campaign.
But with the exception of Paul, even the
Republican candidates who campaigned in
Michigan bypassed the University - some
against better judgment. Rather than speak
to students ofvotingage, Mitt Romney spent
Monday morning campaigning at a high
school. In an unsatisfying substitution, he
sent his son to talk to University students
at the Brown Jug in the early afternoon, not
exactly a peak hour for bar-going.
It was commendable that Gravel and
Kucinich came to Ann Arbor in spite of
pressure from the DNC, but the Democratic
candidates and their party should have rec-
ognized their obligation to the people of
Michigan. With the state's poor economic
situation only becoming an increasingly
urgent problem, voters should be focused on
whether the need for change is being heard,
not whether they are being heard at all.
It is a terrible shame for Michigan and its
students in particular that both were left
out of the process of nominating the next
president. The University should have been
one of the main campaign stops in Michi-
gan, but thanks to the national parties,
students were left with little more than
an empty ballot, Romney's son and a few
fringe candidates.

Emad Ansari, Anindya Bhadra, Kevin Bunkley, Ben Caleca, Milly Dick, Mike Eber,
Gary Graca, Emmarie Huetteman, Theresa Kennelly, Emily Michels, Arikia Millikan, Kate Peabody,
Kate Truesdell, Robert Soave, Neil Tambe, Matt Trecha, Radhika Upadhyaya,
Rachel Van Gilder, Rachel Wagner, Patrick Zabawa.


Hope not lostfor Big
House commencement
As agraduatingsenior, I amupset about
the decision to move our commencement
to Rynearson Stadium at Eastern Michi-
gan University. I did not work hard for
four years to graduate with my friends on
another school's campus. It's an absolute
outrage that this option was even consid-
ered. Frankly, I did not spend $20,000
each year to graduate from the University
on EMU's campus. If I wanted to gradu-
ate on EMU's campus, I would have gone
to school there.
Furthermore, holding the commence-
ment ceremony at Rynearson Stadium is a
major inconvenience. Parking is not read-
ily available there, and the stadium seats
less than one-third the amount of people
that the Big House does. How is that any
kind of solution? I would rather have my
graduation somewhere on our campus
with fewer guests than invite up to eight
people to watch me graduate at a univer-
sity I did not attend.
In order to have commencement at the
Big House, portable restrooms could be
brought in, a generator could provide the
necessary electricity and handicapped
seating could be made available on the
turf with people needing these accom-
modations entering through the tunnels.
I am insulted by this decision, which was
made for the class of 2008 without con-
sultation. I feel that this decision down-
plays the importance of higher education,
graduation and University pride. I am
graduating from the University of Michi-
gan, and I want to do so at the University
of Michigan.
Angie Pargoff
LSA senior
Inconvenience ofwalk
could dissuade smokers
I read with interest the story last
week about the proposed University Vil-
lage apartment complex that could force
shops to move or even close, including
the revered Village Corner (Stores brace
for construction, 01/08/2008). I was con-
sidering the changes this would bring
to the neighborhood with some con-
cern until I read the comment from the
owner of Champions Party Store and

Laundromat, which would be forced to
temporarily move during construction.
He complained that, "It inconveniences
customers ... if a customer wants to buy a
pack of cigarettes [during construction],
he's got to walk four blocks."
That got me thinking that maybe the
construction wouldn't be so bad. It would
have the unintended benefit of helping
smokers who would like to quit but have
a hard time overcoming their addiction.
Surveys show that the vast majority of
people who smoke would like to stop.
The evidence is clear that sometimes all it
takes is some new inconvenience - con-
sider the proven impact of smoking bans
in public places on reducing consumption
- to help smokers get over the hump.
Who would have thought that the con-
struction of the new apartment complex
could actually save lives?
Cliff Douglas
The letter writer is the executive director of the
University of Michigan Tobacco Research Net-
work and an adjunct lecturer in the University of
Michigan School of Public Health.
Whining ofgraduating
students unwarranted

Graduation ceremony
ultimately unimportant
I know what it is like to graduate off
campus and away from tradition. Due to
construction efforts and limited parking,
my graduating class at Lee M. Thurston
High School in Redford, Mich. could
not graduate in our courtyard and walk
across our humble outdoor stage as so
many classes had before us. Despite pro-
tests, petitions and threats, the ceremony
was instead held indoors at Detroit World
outreach, a giant church center. The hall
was gorgeous, and we had a memorable
ceremony, but it was not home.
Like the University's present dilemma,
tickets would have been limited - four
per family - had graduation been held
in the courtyard. With ample room at the
new building, there was no limit on those
in attendance. Needless to say, we would
have rather had the limited tickets.
I was saddened to not be able to cele-
brate my high schoolgraduation following
tradition. However, in the greater scheme
of things, life goes on. I will be graduat-
ing in a few short years, and I envision
doing so on our campus - our Big House.
I completely support keeping graduation

and-blue banners as a replacement for a
University ceremony is laughable.
The thought that any responsible Uni-
versity official sanctioned this Potemkin
village suggests an administration inca-
pable of reasoned thought processes. If
these plans go forward, we ask that the
University please forward us a refund
of the difference between the cost of an
Eastern Michigan University and Univer-
sity of Michigan education.
Julie and Jim Shannon
Tawas City, Mich.
Poor administration to
As I was reading the B-Side in Thurs-
day's Daily, I came across the article about
Chinese street performers (What Ann
Arbor is missing, 01/10/2008) and was
rather irritated. In typical "Is there noth-
ing we can't learn from the East?" style,
Ben VanWagoner fondly remembered
three blind musicians and a troupe of
little girls doing gymnastics in the streets
of Wuhan, China and presented them as
indicators of how accessible art is to the
masses in China. The article goes on to

assert that art in America "is becoming
the realm of the educated" and wealthy,
because access to art exhibitions and per-
formances usually requires entrance fees.
At the end, the author even called the
streets of Ann Arbor "grimy and loud."
I'd like to remind the author of sev-
eral things about China. Art is certainly
teeming in the streets of Shanghai and
Beijing, namely in the form of bootlegged
foreign films and counterfeit fashions.
More importantly, why were these tal-
ented performers on the street in Wuhan
and not in a state-sponsored theater? or
better yet, these performers could have
been in one of the thousands of rural
villages largely ignored by Chinese lead-
ership until it needs cheap laborers or
conscripts. And why were those little girl
acrobats, who supposedly represent the
egalitarian access to art of an enlightened
social state, not in school?
Let's not kid ourselves; modern China
is not a paragon of free expression. The
artistic establishment in capitalist coun-
tries like ours is not perfect: It's plagued
by unfair compensation and a lack of
funding. But don't mistake Wuhan's
abundant street performers for a failure
of our own society.
Adam Ajlouni
LSA junior

TO THE DAILY: on campus, now at
Kudos to the Eastern Michigan Uni- of 2008 should co
versity students who are putting Univer- Remember that lif
sity of Michigan seniors in their place. ment is not an end;
The hand-wringing that has played out
in recent letters to the editor is laugh- Jimmy Tomczak
able at best. The letter writers seem to LSA sophomore
feel that the University owes them a
graduation in the Big House. Hogwash. Absent Sua
These students paid the University for
an education, and I have no doubt that
the University has upheld its end of that TO THE DAILY:
bargain. I don't remember seeing any Where was the
"Big House graduation clause" in my false advertisingtb
acceptance letter. was unnecessarily
Also, students should take it easy
on using the phrase "rich and well- Kristen Tebo
known alumni" ('U' abandons tradition, Rackham
01/11/2008). Students might have forgot-
tenthis,but itis these donations that allow Poor admit
many campus facilities and programs to
remain world-class. And here's a free tipIblae, f nr.p
for all graduating seniors: Calling luxury
boxes "classist" (Family will miss first
and only trip to Big House, 01/11/2008) is TO THE DAILY:
exactly the type of melodramatic rhetoric As the parents
that would have anyone outside of a col- versity student, w
lege campus snicker. of the University's

nd always, but the class
nsider the big picture.
e goes on Commence-
; it is a beginning.
loku missed
Sudoku Monday? The
hat there was one inside
zistration to
Poor planning
of a graduating Uni-
e find the recent news
s graduation ceremony
disconcerting. To sug-
Rynearson Stadium at
University with maize-


tS Wl~l ith ea V' i4k otOnc'J TeasetMand up'
~~1 (1


Michael Saltsman
LSA alum

plans extremelyd
gest decorating R
Eastern Michigan1

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