Monday, September 08, 2008

Rumors Detract from Real Campaign Issues

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has certainly set the political world on its ear since being named as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate a few days prior to the Republican National Convention at the end of last month. And her speech to the convention raised the delegates to fever pitch, a reaction that spilled through the exits of the St. Paul Xcel Energy Center into the streets and out across the nation.

All of this has proved to be more than the Democrats were counting on, and in reaction all manner of weirdities have appeared. The rumors about Gov. Palin are mostly ridiculous on their face, and a few others are still to be settled.

Probably the stupidest one is that the Governor’s new baby isn’t really hers, but her 17 year-old daughter’s, as if 1) the female Governor of any state could have a baby and no one would know, or that she could not have a baby and convince people that she had one, and 2) that her 17 year-old daughter could have one baby in April and be five months pregnant with a second one in August.

No doubt that Gov. Palin will have some legitimate issues arise over the next few weeks, but these silly “issues” the Democrats are bringing up are far more a testament to their desperation than to Palin’s flaws.

On the other side of the aisle, Barack Obama has been in the public eye longer that Sarah Palin, and so the opportunity to debunk the rumors about him has been far greater than for the Alaska governor. Nevertheless, some issues persist, and some are of legitimate concern.

The most serious challenge to Sen. Obama, if it was proved to be true, is the assertion that he is not a legitimate citizen of the U.S. and therefore not qualified to run for president. That one has been researched by, among other organizations, and found by that organization to be a false claim. Is that evaluation conclusive? Who knows?

Far more worrisome, though less serious in practical terms, is the assertion that Sen. Obama is a Muslim, or was influenced by his Muslim upbringing as a child. There is at least an easily accessed history on this issue, the evaluation of which can be debated, but the authenticity of which cannot. Mr. Obama claims to be a Christian and produces various evidence to support that claim, like being married in a Christian church, having his children baptized in a Christian church, and being a member in good standing and a regular attendee of a Christian church. The problem with this argument, at least to me, is that the brand of Christianity practiced at this church is nothing that the vast majority of Christians would recognize as Christianity.

We have to hope that questions about all four candidates will be asked and answered over the few weeks remaining before the election, and that the American people will be well enough informed to make a good decision.

The pitiful state of the media these days does not offer a great deal of hope.

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