Friday, October 10, 2008

"Smears" From a Bizarro World Election

Disclaimer: I generally find Sean Hannity to be a shrill, irritating chihuahua of a commentator. The fact that I'm linking to his site's forum in no way implies that I can stand the fellow, nor that I find his approach to political discourse to be in any way constructive or palatable.

That said, this post on his forum was so devastatingly, hilariously, heart-breakingly apt that I simply could not resist sharing it. Here's a sample:

McCain Defends Association with Abortion Clinic Bomber

Associated Press Writer
September 16th, 2008 8:38 EST

Link: ap/stories

Phoenix (AP) – Back in the 1990’s John McCain probably didn't think much of sharing a seat on a board in Arizona with now infamous 1980’s abortion clinic bomber, Mike Hancoff, but with the White House on the table, he probably wishes he didn't have that association hanging over his head today.

"I strongly denounce acts of violence like those Mr. Handcoff committed, but he has done great work in the community since those days.", McCain said when questioned by reporters about this recent development at a rally in Selma Alabama.

The Obama campaign was quick to respond to the story.

"John McCain needs to explain his ties to this domestic terrorist, the American people demand an answer.", Barack Obama stated at a campaign stop in the 57th state in the Union, Puerto Rico, on Monday.

"We can't have domestic terrorists potentially making their way into cabinet level positions in a McCain White House.", Obama added.

McCain and Hancoff shared positions on a board for Focus on the Family in Arizona that dealt with the subject of abortion, the law and the church. Hancoff was a well-known community organizer in the Phoenix area during the 70’s before becoming very involved in the evangelical community and becoming an anti-abortion activist.

It's a scorcher, and worth reading in its entirety, even if (as I suggest) you skip the snide, hyper-partisan commentary which (inevitably) follows it.

I am saddened (though hardly surprised) that the efforts of the McCain campaign to bring Obama's highly troublesome association with this miscreant to the fore are being portrayed as "smears" by The One's disciples and by his loyal legions of media advocates. If the above post were not satire, then you can bet what's left of your stock portfolio that I would be very vigorously demanding some accounting from McCain...and I would set the bar very high for what would constitute a satisfactory response ("He's just a guy from my neighborhood" would not even come close).

Associations such as these speak to the degree to which a candidate finds the extreme views of others to be tolerable and, in turn, to what extent lesser versions of such extremism might find a ready ear in that candidate's administration. They are relevant because we need to know where a person draws the line, and to compare that point with our own limits of the tolerable. Obama's extremely unconvincing attempts to distance himself from Ayers' past not only reveal the threat which he himself sees in a close examination of his affiliations with the free-on-a-technicality terrorist, but also skates right past the larger question of how deeply the present radical views of that terrorist are shared by the candidate. These questions have not been satisfactorily answered. Simply dismissing them as "smears" is the sort of denial tactic employed by blinkered ideologues. This disturbs me. It should never be too late to take in and process new information about someone we would entrust with such power.

Do I think that Obama is a terrorist? (sigh) of course not. Do I think that he is intent on tearing down the Capitalist Empire of America? Nope. Do I think that he is a politician whose ideological compass is fair game for evaluation as he interviews for the Big Job? Oh yeah. I couldn't give a dingo's kidneys about his incessant ululations about Hope-'n-Change. I have zero investment in his (or McCain's, for that matter) rhetoric about Leading Us Into A Brave New World. He is making a case for occupying a position of considerable administrative clout in the operation of this Republic, and I'm damn well not going to skim over any portion of his resume. And you shouldn't, either.

In the end, all emotional investment in a candidate is (at best) ancillary to the primary responsibility we have as voters. A candidate's ability to inspire is an important piece of data, but it is by far not the most important one. I'll take a sober and competent but boring Executive over a feckless but Inspiring Leader any day of the week. Brett Joshpe over at makes a very good point (which will doubtless feel like heresy to Obama supporters...and that's very much the point):

However, the prospect of an Obama presidency is not just scary, it is sad. Obama talks of hope, but it begs the question: Are we so morally depleted as a society that we need government to inspire us and give us hope? Has anyone gone into the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Post Office lately? That is government; it is long lines and instant coffee. And there is nothing wrong with that. As James Madison recognized, government is is also not to be trusted. It certainly should not inspire. American ideals should inspire. Parents should inspire. The kid down the street who is serving in Iraq should inspire. Not government.

So, bring on Ayers, and ACORN, and Rezko, and the Keating Five, and "Troopergate," and anything else you've got. This is a Very Big Decision we will need to make in the days to come. We can't afford to yadda-yadda over any of this stuff, however yummy a candidate may make us feel inside.

After all, even Jimmy Carter probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

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