Monday, February 25, 2008

Why Become a Politician?

After the NYT article ran last week a question popped into my mind as it has done several times before; 'Why would anyone in his or her right mind become a politician?' There's been such a degradation in political discourse and journalistic standards that good people may start turning away from politics simply because they don't want to subject themselves to all the nastiness and cheap shots. The two candidates that often appear to take the brunt of this low-ball politics are Senator Clinton and Senator McCain.

This month Senator McCain has taken it from both sides. The NYT spreads rumors about him; right wing radio pitches a fit about his nomination. Both sources were so wrong and low-ball in their attacks that people are coming to his defense even when they are not on his side politically.

As for Senator Clinton, she seems to be a constant target for juvenile remarks. I don't know any public figure that takes as much flak for petty things like dress, appearance, or tone of voice. I can't imagine anyone has berated Senator McCain for a poor choice of tie like they do to Senator Clinton if they don't like her outfit. Two of the main problems with type of politics are one; we're forgetting that these people are human beings. There is a certain level of decency that all people should be afforded, even politicians. Two, as stated up front, this could easily dissuade good people from getting involved in politics, then the country looses out. I'm all for challenging politicians on issues, and questioning their actions. I'd just like to see it done with more fairness and maturity.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Why the Left and the Right Should be Upset About the NYT Story

The major problem with the New York Times story is that it set out to prove a rumor. Both Democrats and Republicans and any other reasonable thinking human being should expect news sources not to spread unsubstatiated rumors regarding a public person's personal life. While there has been discussions about whether this is liberal media bias, or whether people would have challenged the Times if they attacked a Democrat, the reality is inuendo particularly of a personal nature should not be published about anyone. It's one thing if there is evidence of bad behavior, but when there is only evidence of rumors of bad behavior, and the NYT directly states in its article that proof of an illicit relationship doesn't exist, then publishing said rumor violates even the most basic journalistic standards. People on both sides of the isle should be upset about this type of reporting because even if it wasn't your favorite person targetted today it may be tomorrow, as rumors are easily fabricated and also easy to come by.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Addressing the Politics of Iraq

After following the primaries the one issue that I’m convinced that the Republicans are right about, and that Senator McCain is really right about is Iraq and foreign policy. If Senator McCain is given fifteen minutes to explain himself, it becomes clear that his position is the most humane for the Iraqi people, the most effective in dealing with Al Qaida, and does the most to protect U.S. security interests at home and abroad; and that he grasps foreign policy issues in a deep and meaingful way. However, more often than not a candidate gets fifteen seconds instead of fifteen minutes to explain their positions. Therefore, there are two arguments that Democrats often raise that I think could be countered better.

‘The Cause for War’ is the centerpiece of any Democrat’s discussion of foreign policy, and is often used as a reason for withdrawal in Iraq. Initially the logic given for war hinged predominantly on the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Consequently, when no WMD’s were found the President in particular and Republicans in general received harsh criticism for starting an ‘baseless war’. The counter to this criticism is that we should have invaded anyway. This is a weak argument because it ignores the fact that there was a huge intelligence failure, and it gives the impression that we were going in regardless of circumstances. Putting aside the actual argument of whether the US should or should not have invaded, there needs to be some responsibility taken for the fact that the intelligence system failed. If corrections need to be made to the intelligence systems then address that. This is important for national security, and it would be a sign to the American people that past mistakes won’t be repeated.

Concurrently there needs to be an acknowledgement that the American people have the right to be annoyed or upset if rationale for war was either not fully explained, or changed in time. This is largely a political problem of the President’s, but it will need to be addressed by Senator McCain too as people are likely to see it as guilt through association. Now this could be a challenging political move as people on both sides of the isle are very passionate and very opinionated about this issue, but I think it would be wise to acknowledge that there is a lot of justified frustration about the perception of being misled. While the fact that the Senate overwhelmingly approved the war indicates that the intent wasn’t to mislead the public, it still should be noted that the start of the war is still a source of anger and distrust for many. Senator McCain has done well in acknowledging the frustration people have with the handling of the war, but the initial decision itself is at the heart of almost every argument for withdrawal, and if he can take that element of the argument off the table the Democrats are left with only hollow arguments and grandstanding.

The second topic I’d like to see the McCain campaign address is the Democrat’s claim that Republicans practice “the politics of fear”. Oddly enough I think both parties are right and wrong on this issue. The Democrats say Republicans scare people in the way that they talk about security threats; the Republicans say that there are real and serious threats that need to be addressed that the Democrats don’t grasp. Democrats have a point that the rhetoric about terrorism sometimes takes the tone that makes it sound like individuals should be scared to leave their homes because a terrorist might be waiting for them at their car. However, the foreign policy of many Democrats seems to ignore the real and ongoing threats to national security. Senator McCain strikes me as being uniquely positioned to win this debate on substance. The fact that he was right about the surge, along with his military background puts him in a position to argue this issue on content and rebut the claims of fear mongering. If the McCain campaign can quell both issues about the ‘reasons of the war’ and ‘politics of fear’ and push the Democrat opponent into an argument of substance Senator McCain would be at a huge advantage as logic and reason would be more likely to prevail.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Reintroducing John McCain

One of the reasons many people have been won over to Senator McCain even when they don't agree with him on all issues is his incredible personal story. While most people know of his military service, I think some forget what a remarkable life he has lead. The following video illustrates some of the characteristic of Senator McCain that inspires many people to follow him.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

McCain Blogger Call 2/13

Much of this blogger call revolved around the current state of the race. Should Huckabee get out? Who would Senator McCain choose as VP? How would he unite the party? The short answer is; he respects and likes Governor Huckabee it's up to him to decide whether he wants out; he hasn't started the selection process for VP yet; and he's working to unite the party. He mentioned that it takes some time after a primary as many people have worked passionately for their candidate, and can't be expected to immediately accept a different nominee. His CPAC speech and his increased support among self-identified conservatives was also noted.

One of the major topics of the call was the difference between Senator McCain and the Democrats on Iraq. He noted that there is a new bill that was recently passed in Baghdad that addresses some of the concerns about the budget and elections. He said how this illustrates that the Democrats were wrong about both the military and political aspects of the surge. The new bill shows political progress that many said was impossible. This also is similar to many of the statements by Democrats that military progress was impossible, showing them to be wrong on both fronts.

Another major topic was that of earmarks. Senator McCain reitterated his support of illiminating earmark spending and his dedication to vetoing any bill with earmarks attached. He mentioned that the Bridge to No Where has become more famous than the Brooklyn Bridge as it has become an icon of government waste.

Several callers congratulated him on recent primary wins one noting his incredible, and almost unbelievable, comeback. One blogger thanked Senator McCain for continuing to do blogger calls even after he had become the presumptive nominee. Senator McCain noted that bloggers were the only people willing to listen to him a few months ago, so he certainly wasn't going to bail on us now.

Monday, February 4, 2008

American Extremism

One of the reasons I am an Independent is because I feel the far edges of the two parties are hurting both their party and their country. The recent attacks on Senator McCain by some conservative talk show hosts have illustrated this point. Ann Coulter in particular has made such over the top statements that she shows how absurdity has afflicted the extremes of both parties. Her remark that Senator McCain, “has no honor” is the clearest example of this. Now, I’ll always defend Ms. Coulter’s right to make outrageous remarks, but ‘no honor’? Really? I’m not going to go down the list of reasons why I think Senator McCain deserves be considered an honorable person, because it’s not necessary. To me this just illustrates how some have lost touch with reality. Whether it is the extreme left implying that General Petraeus is a traitor, or the far right having a melt down over the potential McCain nomination, this is not what your party needs and this is not what your country needs.

One of the reasons I think both Senator McCain and Senator Obama have generated excitement and support has nothing to do with policy. Their policies differ dramatically, but the idea that we can have this debate in a civil manner, and actually put loyalty to ones country above loyalty to ones party is truly exciting to many of us who can’t stomach all this nasty partisanship. I have to believe that I am not the only one who lives in a world that isn’t all red or isn't all blue. If we can have this election in a manner that is respectful to people with all different opinions that could be very healing to a country that has been gripped by bitter partisanship as I don’t believe that represents the true character of America.

Friday, February 1, 2008

John McCain A Different Type of Conservative

I read this morning that Ann Coulter would rather support Hillary Clinton than John McCain, and my reaction was ‘that’s fine with me.’ I don’t mind Ann Coulter abandoning the Republican nominee, not because she’s a conservative, but because she is often mean-spirited. One doesn’t have to be Liberal to think her attacks on the 9/11 widows were nasty and unnecessary. This just highlights the fact that protests of late about John McCain aren’t coming from pure conservatives, they’re coming from angry conservatives. They’re coming from many of the radio talk personalities that belittle people with opposing opinions. However, John McCain’s potential nomination is not a sign that Republican are turning away conservative politics, it’s a sign that they are turning away from the bitter partisanship that has fueled political discourse over the last two decades. The remark from Ann Coulter points to the fact that there are people both are the far right and the far left that feed off of this nastiness that has come with the successive presidencies of Bush/Clinton/Bush possibly Clinton again. A vote for John McCain doesn’t betray conservative ideals, it’s a vote for changing the tone in Washington. John McCain’s appeal to Independents stems from the fact that he’s respectful with people who disagree with him, and I think that’s a change that should be welcomed in Washington regardless of ones political leanings.