Time for another political post. When I started this blog, I was writing about politics every other post, and now I can go months without visiting the subject. Part of the reason is, I gave my opinions early on about the big debates that never go away in politics--abortion, death penalty, gay rights, global warming, health care--and my opinions haven't altered much, so why repeat myself? This is why I could never be a talk show host or pundit. I have the potential to grow bored with repeating myself, while people like Rush Limbaugh make a living by essentially offering the same opinions day after day after day.
But, of course, the real people who have to repeat themselves well past the point that any normal person would grow insane are politicians, and especially presidential candidates. Obama, Clinton, McCain, and the dozen others already forgotten all had a stump speech that they had to deliver a hundred times or more. I can only imagine there's a point where it passes into surreality for them, where it starts to feel like the movie Groundhog Day, where the hero is trapped in living the same day over and over.
Which leads me to a few opinions on some recent candidate scandals that just don't seem all that scandalous to me:
1. Snipergate: Hillary got caught lying. A flat-out, no holds barred, no debate possible lie. She tells an exciting story about running for the cars under sniper fire; video of the event shows her walking off the plane and getting handed flowers. And I've now read pundits who say that this and other lies point to serious personality defects, and possible mental illness. But, this is nonsense. Ordinary people do stuff like this all the time. We routinely exagerate and embellish stories on retelling. A two pound shark caught in the surf at Myrtle Beach grows over time to a twenty pound shark caught in Cuba by reaching into the water and grabbing its tailfin and yanking it into the boat. Well, perhaps I exagerate about the degree which stories get exagerated. But, still, I sometimes listen to stories my friends tell, or to stories my family tell, or even stories that I tell, and find myself marveling at how the stories where I thought I knew what the fairly mundane facts were become, over the course of years, much more gripping and compelling tales with a few edits. Hillary isn't mentally ill for embellishing her story. She is, however, dumb as a rock not to know that someone was going to drag out the videotape.
2. Preachergate: So Obama was friends for twenty years with a crazy, racist fanatic. He sat in the pews, he took his kids to hear the lunitic, he publicy praised the man. Now, a segment of the population is outraged--OUTRAGED!--by Obama's failure to denounce this fool. But, look, just chill, okay? I'm not going to judge any man by the words of another man. I thought it was classless for Obama to drag his grandmother into this debate, but I know what he meant. You have people in your life you grow close to that say things that embarass you, but you stick by them anyway because a person is more than just the five minutes of videotape of the most shocking things they said over twenty years. I was once closely associated with a person who, from time to time, would say things in public that just made me cringe. I'm going to be very careful here; I'm not even going to identify this person by gender--which means I'm going to use the gramatical consruction "they" to refer to them, sorry--I don't have their permission to talk about them, and I don't want to hold a friend up to public scorn. But, this person used to complain loudly about people who were trying to take the confederate flag down from public places. "It's our heritage!" they'd argue. Yeah, I'd think, a heritage of slavery and radical Christianity. If you ever read the constitution that the CFA intended to operate other, you would want to take up arms and fight for the Union, because it absolutely did NOT guarantee religious freedom, but instead stated bluntly that the CFA would be Christian. My friend wasn't a Christian, so revering the Confederate flag made no sense to me whatsoever. I was also baffled by claims of reverse racism. White people were discriminated against in the workplace. It's the law of the land! Doesn't anyone care about the plight of the poor white person? To which I would argue, if you're a white person in America and you can't go out and do whatever you want to do with your life, it's not the government that's holding you back. Take a quick glance at any place where powerful people gather--oh my god! White people! I don't care what the law of the land is: if you can't achieve your life goals here in America today, you aren't going to make it tomorrow if the supreme court suddenly waves its magic wand and POOF, affirmative action vanishes. (For the record, I don't think this is only true of white people... no matter what your skin color or gender, the real obstacles to most people's advancement are internal, not external.)
So, I knew someone who was racist in my judgment. Did I kick them to the curb as some sort of inhuman scum? No. Because this was, like, 1% of thier total personality. And, honestly, unless you listened to them when they got onto this subject, you would never have known. It wasn't like in thier daily life they were going around shouting racial epithats. I honestly don't think on an individual level they cared what color their friends, coworkers, dentists or presidents were.
If we had to go through this world rejecting the friendship of everyone who holds a politically incorrect or politically unpopular opinion, we'd all live very lonely lives. If anything, this preachergate scandal made me like Obama more. He could have pulled the full Judas and abandoned his preacher to the angry mobs. But he stood by a friend--I admire that.
3: Century-gate: So, a popular line of attack about McCain lately is that he's advocating the US being in Iraq for 100 years. Shocking just shocking. But, we've been in Japan and Germany for well over half a century. We have a history of not bringing out boys back home once we've fought a war. Still a century is a bit extreme, isn't it? Nope. We fought the Spanish-American War all the way back in 1898. We set up a little base in Cuba at a place called Guantanamo Bay. And guess where we still have troops stationed 110 years later? America is the house-guest that doesn't know when to leave. A century from now while we're still in Iraq, I'm guessing we'll be past the bicentenial for our occupation of Cuba. Of course, these bases are of vital strategic importance. If we hadn't had a long term presense in Cuba, lord knows what could have happened. The whole island could have gone communist if not for our vigilance!