Those who run for public office are human, subject to the same strengths, weaknesses and frailties that affect the general population. However, one should at least hope that the candidates for the nation’s highest office might, at the very least, stop and think or seek advice before opening their mouths and inserting a foot.
These momentary lapses in brain functions are not endemic to those of any one political persuasion but rather cross party and philosophical lines. One such example is that of the Republican candidate, Senator McCain, who blasted the North Carolina Republican Party for using Reverend Wright in ads attacking Senator Obama but then took a shot at Obama for being endorsed by the terrorist Hamas Party. McCain should have concluded that the Obama/Wright connection is fair game but eschewed criticism of the Illinois Senator for an unsolicited endorsement beyond his control.
Senator Obama’s brush with foot-in-mouth disease was his “hopefully off the record” comment likening the denizens of small-town and rural America to embittered rubes who cling to guns and religion as an escape mechanism from hopelessness. He may or may not believe that generalization and has attempted assiduously to distance himself from those remarks; nevertheless, idle words are accountable and those offended tend to have long memories.
And who can forget Senator Clinton’s courageous dash through sniper fire during a 1996 fact-finding visit to Bosnia? Unfortunately, she forgot a number of salient facts — that, as a VIP visitor, her every move would be recorded on film; that the members or her entourage and the military security forces had no collective recollection of hostile fire; and that those who live in a goldfish bowl can ill afford to create or embellish happenings guaranteed to be embarrassing. The attempts to excuse the incident with passage of time or fatigue notwithstanding, anyone who has been a recipient of shells fired with malice aforethought would not confuse it with flower delivery by young ladies.
Beyond the candidates themselves, though, one may look to the Democratic Party’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Indiana Voter ID statute: the Democratic Party and its supporting cast in the persons of the ACLU, ACORN and the Missouri Democratic leadership joined in an outcry that insults the intelligence of the voting public. The anti-voter identification rhetoric is no more than the usual vilification of any requirement for voter IDs as a Republican ploy to disenfranchise the minorities, the poor, the disabled and the elderly.
Realizing that but seven states require photo IDs, 18 require some form of identification, and 25 require none at all to vote, I do not advocate the federal government force all states to conform. Personally, I would like to see the identification of voters everywhere treated with at least the same importance that is required to board an aircraft, pick up mail, write a check or rent a video from Blockbusters. Unfortunately, the Tenth Amendment deems otherwise.
What is objectionable is the utter absurdity of assuming that the Democratic Party holds any monopoly on the disadvantaged poor, minority, elderly or disabled voters in the United States in general and Missouri in particular. It is also insulting to these otherwise eligible voters to accept the notion that they are incapable of either doing for themselves or seeking assistance when needed.
Contrary to what you may have been force-fed, Republicans have their fair share of poor, elderly, disabled and minority voters. Consequently, does it not appear odd that this disadvantaged segment of society somehow finds a way to establish eligibility in those states requiring picture IDs? And is it also fair to believe that the Democratic Party, which bills itself as the champion of the working poor and those without means or hope, should be able to emulate the Republicans and so qualify their deserving voters in a like manner?
Partisanship is a healthy contributor to government as a guarantee that opposing views will be aired — but obvious misstatement by individual candidates or by political parties underestimates the attention quotient of the public. The real issues are of interest to us — please cease distracting us with fluff.
J. Karl Miller of Columbia retired as a colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. He can be reached via e-mail at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.