In all of the thousands of photographs of Hillary on the campaign trail, she always appears wearing trousers — not even one photograph of her wearing a skirt. Not a peep on the subject from any commentator or member of the media. Yet, if on a particularly steamy day campaigning in Florida or Georgia, Senator McCain wore a skirt, it would be the major story on every media outlet. Is this fair?
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There was, rightfully, outrage when an MSNBC commentator referred to Mrs. Clinton as “pimping” out her daughter. The comment was disgusting beyond disgusting, but the point attempted to be made, while foul in its expression, might be valid in its underlying concept. The exploitative use of a particular person in a way that connects that individual’s persona to a cause where that person’s views or expertise is unilluminating or irrelevant on the issues, is worthy of note, if done so in an appropriate manner (as opposed to what was done on MSNBC). Chelsea Clinton was paraded about not because of anything she could offer by way of sagacity in foreign or domestic affairs. Let us be frank: she was on the tour because it pointed out Hillary’s non-robotic side — that she also is a mother — something that hopefully would resonate with other mothers.
But to be fair: They all do this. The Edwards campaign exploited Mrs. Edwards’ cancer. President Bush had his half-Latino Spanish-speaking nephew working his campaign in areas where his speaking Spanish and his ethnicity would help Mr. Bush. Celebrity endorsements are just another — perhaps more remote — manifestation of this same sort of campaign strategy.
All of this is fair game for comment if the commentary is couched in appropriate and non-offensive language. Worse would be a paralyzing fear that frightens us into silence — even when it involves legitimate observations.
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Obama has run a brilliant campaign, is a mesmerizing speaker, and has captured the yearnings and hopes of millions of people. He has transcended, in his appeal, race, ethnicity, age and sex. But the fact is that he is experienced in running no enterprise and yet seeks to run the largest enterprise in the world. He is virtually inexperienced in government, domestic and certainly foreign policy — all of which should be at the heart of any president’s expertise — and yet the same could really be said of Lincoln, and to some degree Franklin Roosevelt.
But somewhere, somehow, what Churchill referred to as “a little mouse of thought” must be considered: That is, if Obama were white, given his lack of experience, he would not be in the lead for his party’s nomination for President of the United States. Commentators should have the intellectual honesty to note this, as well as the fact that it might be, in effect, a good thing. His candidacy, with all of his lack of experience stands as a stark contrast and home for those people who are fed up or, to be charitable, disenchanted with Washington’s business-as-usual, and the usual group of subjects simply playing musical chairs in the running of this country. Credit must also be given him for not claiming experience when it does not really exist — which is precisely what Hillary Clinton has done. Her experience basically has been to sleep with the President (hardly a unique claim — at least for females under eighty years of age in the Washington area), become an enabler for the President to carry on with his extra-marital activities and, as all first ladies, arrange for the catering of State dinners — hardly fitting the job description for a President.
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Nobody mentions the fact that senators, of both parties, run for president and ask us for our support, money, effort and loyalty. But yet these same senators do not have enough faith in their own cause to quit their day job and leave the Senate. Putting aside the fact that if they are running for president they cannot put in full time to do their jobs in the Senate (for which we pay them), why should we have faith in them and give them our money when they hedge their bets? Would not it make more sense to say to them, “When you show me you believe in yourself and your cause to the extent you give up your other job, then we will support you”? Is there any business where you can say to your boss, “Keep paying me my full salary for two years while I spend my time looking for another job”?