Archive for Sunday, March 23, 2008

Scandal politics

It seems that no one’s reputation is so perfect that it couldn’t be trashed as part of a presidential campaign.

March 23, 2008

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Occasionally, in a vintage movie, parents looked lovingly at their newborn child (always a boy) and declared, "Someday, he will be president."

Infancy probably is the right time to start thinking about such a goal, because it gives someone a chance to build a personal and professional record that can hope to stand up to the scrutiny focused on American political candidates.

The president-to-be would have to attend the right schools, go to the right church and associate with all of the right people. Their families would be the first potential source of scandal, but they also would have to have the right friends, classmates, pastors, business associates and dentist. Heaven forbid that they would associate, let alone have an ongoing relationship, with someone whose views conflicted with the message they eventually would want to take on the campaign trail.

The current presidential campaign is rife with examples of political guilt by association that are endlessly analyzed and discussed on the Internet or in the name of 24-hour television "news." McCain was hit with a "scandal" that involved a possible relationship - never proven - with a female lobbyist. Recent revelations about sexual improprieties by both the past and current New York governor, along with the release of daily schedules from the Clinton presidency spur daily reminders of the indiscretions of Hillary Clinton's husband and her own reactions to those events. Perhaps most prominent in the last week have been discussions of Barack Obama's pastor, who was taped making outlandish and incendiary statements about race in America.

Discussion of these topics and revelations shouldn't be suppressed, but how much attention do they deserve? In the high-stakes game of national politics, how much attention should be focused on the morals and character of someone who might be our president and commander-in-chief? Are we focusing on the right issues? It's a lot easier to get voters' attention with a sex scandal than to get them engaged in the complexities of national health care reform. It's easier to condemn clearly out-of-line statements by a former pastor than to focus on the more reasoned and rational discussion of racial issues undertaken by a candidate.

It is no wonder that people are so disenchanted with American politics. All someone has to do is stand up and say something ridiculous and then say they support a certain candidate, and the candidate is forced to spend time on the defensive, responding to the rhetoric.

That, of course, is part of the strategy - and it works amazingly well. If you say just about anything loud enough and long enough, at least a few people are going to believe it's true. At a conference held last year at Kansas University's Dole Institute of Politics, national political advisers and campaign strategists acknowledged that "going negative" is the best way to win votes if such efforts are properly timed in the heat of a campaign.

To some extent, what is happening in the current presidential campaign also takes place in every race for elective office, even at the state and local level. Is it any wonder so few people are willing to step up and run for public office and endure the mindless attacks and scrutiny that will focus on their lives?

Comments

Richard Heckler 7 years, 1 month ago

The issues are not grandma,pastors or sex. For some reason since the days of Reagan-Bush republicans have concerned themselves with others sex lives. Why voters place that above Iran-Contra,Savings and Loan Scandal,parties supporting a lying president/illegal occupation of another country,spying on americans at will,president lying about social security http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html and the killing or injury of at least 1,000,000 Iraq people is wayyy beyond me.

The issues it seems are: Bring all the troops home. The Iraq people know how to rebuild a country and run an oil business. Their oil is not our oil. Creating new industry that cannot be outsourced Cleaner Energy Sources National Health Insurance Dumping No Child Left Behind Restoring Rights of Americans that republicans took away Reining in the power of the President Restoring the EPA Acts that the republican wiped out Restoring the USDA to a credible agency that places consumers over special interest money Voter Rights NOT special interest rights: Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths on the 2008 ballot.

Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing.

Lets's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : http://www.fairvote.org/irv/

Demand a change on the 2008 ballot.

The big money candidates are more beholden than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out.

http://www.publicampaign.org/

Who would be against Public Funding? The special interest money providers and their bought and paid for politicians!

Centerville 7 years, 1 month ago

So now that Obama has been, finally, scrutinized and found very wanting, here come the hand-wringing editorials about how it's all so mean.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 1 month ago

See above for merrill's copy/paste # 3864 of the same drivel.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 1 month ago

Centerville, Let's scrutinize your family and friends and see if they are all just like you. I'm sure you have disowned all family members who do not fall in line. I bet you have never even done anything wrong in your life, ever. You're so squeaky clean. And probably a perfect little Christian casting stones, oh yeah, you were told not to do that by Jesus. What a perfect person you are. Oh yeah, how would we know, you haven't got the guts to give your real name. Be careful casting stones, they always come back to you.

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