In what could be a sign of things to come, Paul Carty, the Executive Editor of The Town Talk, seemingly praised the candidacy of Senator John McCain in an editorial entitled “Listen Closely for the Sound of a President.” Carty begins by attempting to unpack the candidacies of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

On Hillary Clinton:

One of those was her decision to be known as Hillary Rodham, her given name, when she left the South and moved to New York, a state that saw fit to elect her to the U.S. Senate. Hillary, as they call her on the campaign bus, would be doing a lot better these days if she had kept her dad’s last name. Why keep reminding the voters that she is connected at the hip and the lip to husband Bill? It’s not helping her campaign. When Bill stands with her, no one can think what Hillary would be like as president. Everyone is wondering about what the heck else Bill was doing when he was in office.

Hillary Clinton left the South eight years before she moved to New York, and after those eight years in the White House, she did not suddenly change her name back to Rodham. She did not campaign with the last name Rodham. She campaigned as Hillary Clinton. It’s true that when Hillary was a young professional in Arkansas she continued to use her maiden name, but Mr. Carty, I think they call her Senator Clinton on the campaign bus. Her campaign signs declare, “Hillary!”

Either way, when I see President Clinton on the campaign stump for his wife, my first thought, like millions of other Americans, isn’t “I wonder what else Bill did when he was in office.” Republicans spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to uncover every sordid detail of his personal life. They attempted to kick him out of office for lying about cheating on his wife. I don’t care about Bill Clinton’s personal life. I care about what he did in his professional career for this country. Given the current state of this country– an imminent recession and a war with no end in sight– serious people aren’t paying attention to the sensational, the half-truths, and the perennial Clinton-haters; they’re focused on positive change. I earnestly hope that our local newspaper will not become the province of those who seek to focus on the hackneyed talking points of the Republican Revolution in order to assert a phony moral high ground during this incredibly important election. We could be talking about how to end the War in Iraq– a war that has claimed thousands of people in my generation, at least one of whom I knew as a child here in Alexandria– but instead, we’re being asked to obsess over questions about a man’s personal life that have already been answered more than a decade ago.

On Barack Obama:

Barack Obama, also a Democrat, is the best presidential candidate in one important way: his speeches. What he says — the words, the tone and the gestures — hold the interest of most people at least for a while. What he says is fully scripted, but he has great delivery and that makes the words easy to hear. He doesn’t actually say much of substance, but he’s easy to listen to. Hillary, on the other hand, actually has something to say, but she sounds shrill on her best days.

First, it is absolutely untrue that Obama is “fully scripted.” It’s almost as if Carty is attempting to paint one of Obama’s greatest assets– his ability to directly connect with people in his speeches– as a liability, suggesting that somehow Obama is an empty vessel who is only capable of reading the words in front of him on a teleprompter. I have been listening to Senator Obama for well over a year now, during which time I have heard fully-articulated policy positions on a wide range of issues. You see, between the chants of “Yes we can” and “We want change,” Senator Obama typically bothers to explain his platform. And believe it or not, there are some people who are too concerned to be swept away by his dynamism, people who prefer to listen to the substance. Again, there seems to be a disconnect between the coverage of sensationalism and substance, and perhaps there are voters who prefer to focus exclusively on the former.

On John McCain:

John — it’s John Sidney McCain III, for the record — is a son of an admiral and the grandson of an admiral. The Navy runs deep in the McCain family, with his father and grandfather serving high commands with high honors. John’s own military story is well-known, although John does not tell it much. He doesn’t have to. As a Navy fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, John was on his 23rd bombing run over North Vietnam in 1967 when he was shot down and captured. He survived 5½ years as a prisoner of war and all of the horrors that went with it. You’d never know he was a POW to listen to him.

Listening to John is like listening to someone who knows he has the right answer. He looks people in the eye when he speaks, and he does not flinch or back down. That makes some people uncomfortable, just as his experience with war makes some people uncomfortable. That discomfort derives from a fundamental truth: The president — whomever he or she may be — is by definition the military’s commander-in-chief, the nation’s highest-ranking military officer.

That’s from Article 2, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution — a constitutional mandate for the president to run the show when things are tough.

If listening to John McCain is like listening to someone who knows he has the right answer, then why has he changed his answer so frequently?

On the Bush tax cuts.

On immigration.

On gay marriage.

On the Iraq War.

On some of the biggest issues of our time. There’s a reason millions of conservatives are against a McCain candidacy. It’s about the issues.

John McCain is truly a war hero. But that alone does not make him qualified to be President of the United States. Hillary Clinton is married to Bill Clinton, but that does not make her disqualified to be President of the United States. And Barack Obama is attracting a movement with his charisma… so instead of focusing on this movement (and attempting to disqualify him as offering nothing but empty rhetoric), listen to what he is actually saying. It would be foolish to write his candidacy off before considering his policy agenda and platform.

Personally, I’m tired of the mainstream media attempting to define this election as a clash of (larger-than-life and sensationalized) personalities. Instead, we should be focusing on the problems we have to solve and the issues we have to confront.

5 thoughts

  1. “Instead, we should be focusing on the problems we have to solve and the issues we have to confront.”

    Absolutely. My greatest fear is that Democrats will buy into the ultra right’s assertion that McCain is a moderate or even liberal.

    We could get lulled into complacency by the ultra right. If McCain wins, we will get judicial appointments that will further erode civil rights and consumer rights.

  2. What we will get is judicial appointments who will protect the rights of unborn infants from those who feel thay have a right to murder them.

  3. If McCain’s only hope is to play to the worst fears of pro-lifers, he’s really in for it.

    But this election isn’t about judicial nominees. It’s about addressing a wide range of important issues, and I don’t think we can afford this conversation to be overrun by single-issue activists. We need to look at the entire picture. For once, we need to challenge those who hope that average Americans will be duped into voting against their own interests in the name of some amorphous “moral” agenda (an agenda that exists only as an abstraction, not as any type of manifest political reality).

    We need to wake up.

  4. I don’t vote purely based on someones stance on right to life. However, I do use it as a benchmark for determining the type of value system that a candidate has…or professes to have.

    Unfortunately this whole presidential nomination process, along with most other federal elections has become more like a contest for high school prom queen. I wish someone would just stand up and tell us what they are going to do to solve the problems our country faces and then, OK here’s the hard part, do what they said they were going to do. Obama has come the closest to doing that but the guy has very little experience.

    Of course, so did Bill Clinton unless you count being the Governor of Arkansas. Although I disagreed philosphically with much of what he did, he certainly got things done.

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