Saturday, September 13, 2008

A smear?

I've been thinking about this, which I sent out last night, esp. #2 and #4, which go after McCain for his behavior in his first marriage and Palin's husband, respectively:
I’m a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight.....

* If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.

* If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive.


* If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.

* If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.


* If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

* If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you’re very responsible.


* If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America’s.

* If you’re husband is nicknamed ‘First Dude’, with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

I'm sure there are some who would say that, in sending this out, I'm adding fuel to the cycle of inappropriate and irrelevant personal attacks that I regularly decry, but I disagree (though there's no question that the tone is sardonic and it's written to make Obama look a good as possible and McCain and Palin look as bad as possible). Here are my thoughts:
A) Imagine if the tables were turned: that Obama had come home from being a POW to his wife, who had suffered enormously while he was gone, yet raised their children by herself and stayed loyal to him, yet Obama had almost immediately started cheating on her, a pattern of behavior that continued for years, ultimately ending in Obama abandoning Michelle for a younger, more beautiful and extremely wealthy woman. And imagine that Obama, in his autobiography, had admitted to all of this and said he felt badly about it. Do you think the Republicans would say, "Oh well, he admitted and apologized for it, so we'll stay silent about this."? HA! Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, etc. would have a field day, saying it showed that Obama lacked character and integrity, etc. And remember how the Republicans attacked John Kerry for marrying a wealthy heiress and using it to position him as an out-of-touch elitist?
Similarly, if Obama's wife had a DWI conviction, didn't finish college, had belonged to a fringe left-wing group, etc., the Republicans would be all over it! And imagine if one of Obama's daughters were older and got knocked up by the high school basketball star -- the Republicans would be talking about the loose morals in the Obama household, the bad parenting going on, etc.
B) But it's not good enough to argue that the Republicans would behave badly were the situation reversed -- that's a given -- and I'm not a fan of the Richard Nixon strain of morality in which, if two wrongs don't make right, try three. The real question is whether McCain's behavior toward his first wife and Todd Palin's background are legitimate areas for inquiry and critique. I'd argue that they absolutely are. Re. the former, I think the best way to see someone's true character is not when things are going swimmingly, but rather when things are tough -- and few things are tougher than a marriage that isn't working. I have no problem with McCain deciding he didn't love and/or didn't want to remain married to his first wife, nor do I care that he married someone younger, richer and more beautiful (who wouldn't want that?), but cheating on his wife for years before finally leaving her is simply wrong, assuming McCain was doing it behind her back (it's possible -- I've see this many times -- that they had an understanding that they were going to formally stay together until the kids reached a certain age).
Similarly, I think the people someone chooses as friends and, most importantly, a spouse speaks volumes about a person. So, I think it's perfectly legitimate to examine who Sarah Palin chose to spend her like with -- and who might be representing the United States along with Palin on international trips, etc.


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