advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about economics, politics, and more... 

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On A Civil Campaign, Or Things I Hope We Don't Say About McCain

Our Republican friends have begun the campaign season with their usual class and style; and the resulting Internet gossip has reported that Obama is a secret Muslim, that his Christian Reverend is the scourge of American religion, that he’s no patriot...and that he associates with every evil person on the planet, either by allowing them into his campaign or by his willingness to talk to those who hate us the most.

And Obama has, to this point, chosen to remain above the fray.

Because Obama has chosen the high road, I wanted to offer a few words about how we can be a more civil blogging community—and about a few things we should seek to leave off the table.

For example, it would be utterly inappropriate for us to question John McCain’s commitment to family values. After all, lots of husbands leave their wives for richer, younger women. And it’s perfectly natural. I mean, even if your current wife raised your three kids while you were in a Vietnamese prison camp that’s no reason why you should stay with her—especially if she can’t help finance your future.

And most especially if she was oh, I don’t know...perhaps the victim of horrendous injuries that were no fault of her own. ...that maybe caused her to gain a few pounds...and walk on crutches.

For example, this is the sort of thing we should not say:

“After he came home, he walked with a limp, she [Carol McCain] walked with a limp. So he threw her over for a poster girl with big money from Arizona [Cindy McCain, his current wife] and the rest is history”.

Surprisingly, that is the sort of thing Ross Perot would say, and he made a point of calling up Jonathan Alter earlier this year to express exactly that sentiment.

How would Perot know? As it turns out, he paid for Carol McCain’s medical care.

But that’s not something I would say about McCain, because I’m trying to elevate the conversation.

Another thing we should avoid discussing, if we seek the high road, is this whole question of what happened to McCain as a POW.

For example, it might be insensitive of us to question whether post-traumatic stress syndrome is the reason for McCain’s extreme temper and violent mood swings...even though others do.

And we shouldn’t question if these outbursts disqualify him from office...even though former Republican Senator Bob Smith did...even though he apparently went off on Republican Senator John Cornyn in a Republican Caucus meeting...even though Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran gets a “cold chill down my spine” when he considers the possibility of a McCain Presidency.

But again, in my efforts to elevate the tone of the discussion I’ll leave all of that off the table.

Finally, if we really intend to take a high-minded approach to this campaign, the last thing we should be discussing is this recurring story that McCain blocked efforts to determine whether American POWs were removed from Korea and Vietnam to the USSR for medical experimentation and other purposes.

Even further, it would be highly impolite of us to point out that there are groups trying even now to position McCain as anti-POW...but there are those who are making that effort—including Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain, who report McCain actually gave information to the Vietnamese and made propaganda statements for them from his hospital bed.

So I hope all of this serves as a reminder that we should really work hard to make this as polite and civil a campaign as we possibly can; and I hope you use these examples of what we should not be doing as a guide to help you present McCain in a way that enervates and enriches the discussion...because after all, the last thing we want is to have another campaign like '04's on our hands.


Chervil said...

Nice work! I just feel sickened by the way so many in politics try to win office based on nasty lies rather than through providing solutions to real issues. So far I have been very impressed with Obama. He seems an extraordinary man.

fake consultant said...

i tend to agree--so far--but as always, the devil will be in the details after the election.

having watched him from afar, it does seem that he is speaking in a genuine way...and his decision to go "optomistic" creates a giant contrast with the tactics of mccain's party.

jmb said...

I guess we all know how you are voting, FC and I see you stopped holding back for the post above! Nothing on TV I guess.

fake consultant said...

i was disinclined to enter th eobama/clinton baqttle too deeply, but we are not well served by mccain--and this is one election we cannot afford to lose.