The Politics Of Authenticity

Former Hanoi Hilton POW Orson Swindle writes in today's National Review Online (7-1-08) that he's upset over the treatment his friend & fellow POW John McCain has recieved thus far from a variety of Democrats who impugn aspects of McCain's military background:

In hiding behind a campaign surrogate to level attacks on John McCain’s military service, Barack Obama’s presidential campaign has reached an all-time low in credibility. Previously promising Americans a new kind of politics this election season, Obama has gone back on his word one too many times, revealing to Americans a hypocrisy of epic proportions.

The most recent installment, in which Gen. Wesley Clark — an Obama surrogate and failed presidential primary contender in 2004 — went on Face the Nation Sunday and attacked McCain’s record of military service to our country, was a despicable act of old-style politics. This is not the first time, however, Obama’s surrogates have taken cheap shots at McCain’s military service, while Obama and his campaign predicate nearly every attack with something along the lines of “we honor his service.” This is a page straight out of the dirty-tricks Democrat playbook. This is not “new politics.” This is an escapist tactic to avoid the real issues Americans are concerned about.

Obama’s campaign surrogates have run the gamut of media outlets taking cheap shots at McCain’s military service and how it will affect the country if he is elected president. West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller took to the stump in April to attack McCain’s character and service, saying, “McCain was a fighter pilot who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] hit the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.” This bold attack on McCain’s compassion for the victims of war was not the last bit of campaign propaganda Obama had his surrogates spreading around.

Obama supporter Ed Schultz warmed up a fundraiser crowd in April by calling McCain “a warmonger.” Such harsh language left Obama unfazed, and he neglected to condemn Shultz’s remark.

Obama supporter and Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin criticized McCain’s service in the military because of his lifelong military background, saying McCain’s views come “from always having been in the military, and I think that can be pretty dangerous.” Still, these comments received no condemnation from Obama.

As these surrogates attack the character of a man who is seen by many Americans as a true patriotic hero, Obama’s denouncements of their attacks come rarely and only when he is pushed to do so. This lack of leadership and judgment are showing up more and more in recent weeks, and voters are taking notice of the politics-as-usual campaign Obama is running.

Swindle shouldn't be surprised at how brutal politics can be nor should he think its practitioners are exclusively Democrats. [Remember how badly Bush's people kneecapped McCain in the 2000 Republican primary in the South with whispering campaigns about the Mac's alleged “black love child”?]

But Swindle has a point about Obama's “new kind of politics” being AWOL while some of his supporters gleefully soil themselves in their “politics-as-usual” stunts against McCain. By publicly distancing himself from the aforementioned attacks & defending McCain, Obama would create for himself a “Sister Souljah” moment that would strengthen his “new politics” bona fides among Independents & “Obamacons”.

He would also do himself a favor. If the “authenticity” of McCain's military background can be trashed, so too can the “authenticity” of Obama's “blackness” or his “Christianity”. Last year TIME Magazine had an article on Obama titled “Is Obama Black Enough?” (2-1-07) & a few weeks ago (6-16-08) columnist Cal Thomas questioned Obama's Christianity (“Obama can call himself anything he likes, but there is a clear requirement for one to qualify as a Christian and Obama doesn’t meet that requirement.”)

Extremists on either side of the partisan divide should be told in no uncertain terms by both McCain & Obama that their hate-mongering won't be tolerated in this year's election. Obama in particular should be extra sensitive given how high he himself has raised the bar on “politics -as-usual”.

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