Candidates lack leadership in presidential election

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:59 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008
John Merrill is a professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism.

How can it be? I ask myself. In line for the top position in our government and for perhaps the leader of the contemporary world are two persons who have no proven leadership abilities or credibility: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Out of nowhere really comes Obama, falling into public favor because of a single speech, and, I suppose, because he is black or partially so. And, of course, Hillary Clinton has a checkered reputation with an Arkansas law firm and first-hand experience as wife of president William Jefferson Clinton.

There is a certain mystique about both of these candidates. One, Obama, is hardly known at all, being something of a sort of Asian-African-American who doesn’t like President Bush and is against the war in Iraq. He has taken a rather strong position against our troops being in Iraq. Many African-Americans feel he is not “black enough” and hasn’t fought the good fight for civil rights. But he does know how to raise money, going neck and neck with Hillary in that department. And that, of course, is the core of democratic elections.

As for Clinton, we know little except for her voting to fund the Iraq war and her noble toleration of the antics of her husband in the Oval Office. We know that she smiles a lot, speaks in a harsh nasal tone and seldom if ever wears a dress. We don’t know how she really feels about the American presence in Iraq and, if elected, her readiness to pull out U.S. troops.

We know something about what they are against. But what are they for? Clinton is for socialized medicine and for higher taxes. Both candidates are for better education, for helping the downtrodden, and for God and country. Hurray, hurray! And aren’t they all? Both of them, reflecting the views of George Bush, have love and toleration for the illegal aliens that are flooding into our country. How is this different from George Bush?

A basic question is this: What have they done to show that they are leaders? That they are wise? That they are strong-willed? That they have a plan for national security?

That they have a sense of global political reality? That they are authentic and capable of facing the hard realities of global friction?

We haven’t seen any big Clinton rallies here in Columbia — yet. But there was a “Barack-a-Que” recently in Flat Branch Park for Obama. But his supporters came to praise Barack, not to barbecue him. Barack was praised and Obama merchandise was for sale. A good time was had by all. Caveat emptor!

Merrill, a professor emeritus at the Missouri School of Journalism, has written and taught around the world and here in Columbia for more than 25 years.

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