I was checking ou the news on the election this morning, and there’s a “rush transcript” of the interview Sarah Palin did with Sean Hannity. In it, they talk about whether or not Barak Obama should “disavow” ACORN and its voter registration drives. This got me thinking abou thtis whole “disavow” trend in this election.
There have been numerous incidents of candidates misspeaking, saying something dumb, or their supporters doing something imflammatory. This has led to calls for candidates to “disavow” this person or that- as if throwing a person and their views under the bus is equivalent to taking a shower or purifying the campaign. More often, I think the question of disavowal or repudiation of someone other than the candidate’s comments is being used to try to trap a candidate into saying something about this person, to get them to acknowledge or separate themselves from one extreme view or another. And I think it’s silly and distracting.
It’s election season. People are talking smack everywhere. Heck, I just put a bumper sticker on my car that states “Please make all the scary republicans go away.” Regardless, I don’t expect that this is something that Joe Biden or Barack Obama will have to repudiate on national television, even if the republicans in my neighborhood insist that they aren’t scary and I am making too big a deal of it anyway, by publicizing my views so openly.
I think the biggest mistake we are making as a Country, in large part because of the 24 x 7 news cycle, is that we can’t differentiate news from people shooting off their mouths in public anymore.
For example, I am glad McCain put a lid on things like the grandmotherly-type woman who said at one of his rallies that Barack Obama was an Arab. I am glad McCain set the record straight. But does he have to do some huge mea culpa because the people at his rallies are out of touch with reality? Well, when the organizers or people on stage are lying or trying to gin up the crowd with stuff like this, yes. The loons in the audience? Not under his control, and he shouldn’t have to apologize. Setting the record straight was great, and made me respect McCain more because of it.
The same goes for Obama supporters who are wearing t-shirts using less than polite language regarding Sarah Palin. We still live in a Country with a first amendment, and we don’t strip off the clothes off of someone’s back just because we don’t like the message they communicate. While I think a campaign would be wise not to feature these people front and center, or immediately behind the candidate during a speech, Obama can’t control everyone who supports him, and there are loons on the left as well as on the right.
There’s a fear of the other, a xenophobia, a “two americas” mentality that the news media seems to love. They seem to be fostering a sense of the Country being divided into the one we like, and the people that support Group X, and all the rest of the disillusioned maniacs out there who don’t have a clue because they don’t see it our way. This kind of division led to a civil war in this Country. While it’s really unlikely that another civil war will occur, (just imagine Pennslyvania asking Ohio to “bring it on”…or more absurdly- a Delaware versus Rhode Island cage match?) the polarization of sentiment prevents a lot from being accomplished.
I understand that in a 24 x 7 news cycle, you do finally run out of things to say. But I really hope that people can find better things to do than try to hang the albatross of regular people and their widely differing and sometimes lunatic fringe views on the candidates. The candidates are both reasonable, smart people and should have more respect for themselves than to deal in this “repudiation/disavowal” game and instead focus on the serious problems we have as a Nation and how to solve them.