Friday, August 22, 2008

McCain reveals callous perspective of poverty and jingoistic sense of evil

The televised appearance of Democratic and Republican candidates at a California Church has stirred up some strong feelings. The media and the pundits have been having a somewhat predictable and shallow run with the story. My next few blogs will try to present some of my reactions to the candidates and maybe the media.

First I'll tackle McCain. The media seems to feel he "won" the evening and I admit he was in a good mood and managed to avoid his now almost traditional gaff or confusion in his presentation. Assuming, then, that his foot was safely on the floor I will take his answers as his best shot at answering the questions.

Clearly the interviewer and the audience were predisposed to view him as their candidate and he likewise appeared to assume he was in that position. Unfortunately this led the interviewer and the audience to accept almost unchallenged several flippant and simplistic answers. Two of them I find very troubling as they are topics we desperately need our leaders to be well informed about.

The first shocker was his answers to the questions about "evil". He answered yes to the first (does evil exist?), skipped the next (how does he define evil?), chose one of a multiple choice question (ignore, negotiate, destroy?) by saying he would kill it and he promised to get Ben Laden if he was President. The apparently exhausted his sense of evil. Since Obama pledged the same some time ago this leaves us with no differentiating input from McCain on the subject of evil. It seems to me critical that our leaders have a good sense of what is evil and what is good in our public life so that our rights are protected, our positive participation is encouraged, and the common good is achieved.

The second area was the questions addressing economic disparity among Americans. He gave a quick answer to the question about the the annual income that marked the line between middle class and the rich. He placed the line at several million! Apparently he sensed his foot in mid air and made a quick claim that he was just joking. Unfortunately that about where he left it as his only answer talking around or ignoring all the rest of the questions on the topic. Given the economic mess and multi generational debt created by the current administration it seems we need a leader with some sense of what most Americans face in this area.

Given his reputed idealism on many topics these two responses significantly deflate the reputation. The combination of his middle class "joke" and the news of his many homes served to accentuate this deflation over the following week.

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