Setting the Record Straight

August 11, 2008

Petulance and Politics

Pettiness and Presidential Campaigns
     Few activities outweigh the selection of the U.S. president in importance to the world, yet we engage in the process at such a juvenile level, one wonders how we retain an iota of respect.
     One can understand how the general public, which does not bother to try to understand the government process that deter- mines our well-being, can be swayed by polls, tab-loid-cable, fascination with peccadilloes, sycophancy and many other aspects of campaign silly-season born of persistent ignorance.
     But what explains the decisions by those operating at the highest levels of a campaign, including the candidate, based on pettiness, personal feelings and, amazingly, their own ignorance?
     As could have been expected, the Democratic convention included major speeches by both Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Clinton camp has forced some major elements of the party platform and Hillary has been tapped to make campaign appearances on behalf of Barack Obama.
     How could those things not have occurred? Hillary Clinton won nearly half the delegates to the convention, so common sense dictates she could not be ignored. Yet, there are reports by the respected press that the Obama camp resisted all of those decisions. And they still have others they should be making, if they could get past their own pettiness.
     That general public who ends up making the decision on who will be “leader of the free world” is still going to base its decision on those irrelevant factors listed above. One of the secret weapons each party has is a president, or a past president.
     Anyone who has covered a presidential visit has seen the draw he always attracts, regardless of his popularity level or the petty scandal of the day dogging him. Just the presence of Air Force One on the tarmac of Podunk International draws oohs and aahs.
     Any candidate who ignores that factor and fails to take ad-vantage is doomed to suffer the same defeat Al Gore suffered. He ignored the draw of President Clinton and Air Force One to his peril.
     John McCain’s people have shown some acumen in this regard by giving President Bush a speaking role at the convention, even if it is stuck at the beginning on a national holiday. This is a tightrope decision for McCain—he needs the presidential draw at the same time he tries to distance himself from an unpopular president.
     But a tightrope though it is, McCain would be Gore-foolish if he does not have Bush and Air Force One make appearances on his behalf. And although he can no longer fly on Air Force One, Bill Clinton should be a major presence on the campaign trail with Obama.
     In Clinton’s case, he still enjoys enormous popularity among the general public and happens to be a captivating and enthus-iastic speaker. Although he may have been too enthusiastic on behalf of his wife during the primaries, there is little Obama could lose with that enthusiasm on his behalf against McCain.
     Yet the press reports indicate there is still some hangover petulance among Obama’s advisers stemming from the pri-maries. They need to grow up and run a presidential campaign. Democrats, indeed the world, do not need another inept Gore loss.



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