There are plenty of good topics in the current political cycle and Presidential race. And as usual there’s a Silly Season of fake issues that don’t matter in legitimate political discourse. As much fun as it might be to score these points, let’s get real, people.
We are the Board of Directors of the United States of America, and every four years we have to hire a CEO. Do we really want some of these questions to bear heavily on the interview process?
- “He/she uses a teleprompter.” So what. Every business, entertainment, and political figure does. Rehearsed versus spontaneous oratorical ability is a test of showmanship, but not a litmus test of knowledge or ability.
- The gaffe. It is extremely rare that a gaffe truly betrays bigotry or ignorance, but everybody wants to make it out as if it does. Chavez doesn’t rule a mideast country. FDR wasn’t president in 1929. There are not 57 states. To judge a misstatement, I wait until it is confirmed and discussed, to see if it represents actual thinking and policy. Relentless public speaking is an extremely stressful, adrenaline-infused endeavor, and people say dumb things.
- Vanity and ambition. These people are not running for successor to Saint Theresa. To want to be President of these United States requires massive self-assurance, ego, and to have preened for public appearance your entire life. Please. Shoes, haircuts, makeup: it comes with the territory.
- Reckless supporters. I have never considered guilt by association to be a valid argument, but the ongoing Festival Of Throwing Supporters Under the Bus has been beyond ridiculous. While a candidate can control who speaks for the campaign, it ought to be obvious that the surrogate’s views are not necessarily the candidate’s, and the views of unaffiliated supporters are just not relevant at all.
- Your Crazy Pastor. Really, no good can come of looking at what church a politician attends. Ronald Reagan, probably the most revered Conservative of the last half-century, attended church sporadically if at all. We knew nothing of the pastors of Nixon, Ford, Carter, GHWB, or Clinton, and that was fine. We have no idea what church McCain attends, and we should really not care about the rites at either Palin’s or Obama’s.
- Family. Off-limits except when the campaign places them in the arena. Children, especially adult children, are not sole products of the parent’s responsibility; siblings, parents, and other relatives even less so. Judging a candidate’s political management by their family management is folly.
- Big Contributors. Somebody once said that anybody who gives you a percentage without telling you the numerator and denominator is lying. Similarly, absolute dollar amounts allegedly to have been given by contributors may sound large, but out of the context of a) how much they gave others and b) what percentage of the campaign’s income they represent is misleading.
I’m not enamored with some of Obama’s recent ads. Foreign cars? Rush Limbaugh an immigrant-hater? Please. McCain’s have been far worse, with outright lies and fearmongering. We have plenty to argue about this round: exiting from Iraq, dismantling the castles in the sky the credit industry built, not to mention what to do about the now obvious crimes of the Bush Administration (which has not been a campaign topic.) Let’s get out of the silly season and on with the election.