Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Politics makes for the ridiculous

Since the Democratic campaign ended in early June, the opposing political parties have continued the general campaign, not taking the customary pause. There not being much general interest, as summer is here, and as the conventions aren't for a couple of months, the campaign has throttled down to a low hum. Yet the media looks for something to discuss, and the candidates dig into the pot to find something to say. This has led to some ridiculousness.

First, the Democrat candidate, seeking to prove his bona fides, his credentials to authenticate his standing and reputation, has asserted being anchored in American values. He declared his patriotism, and now his faith.

Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand President Bush's program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and in a move sure to cause controversy support some ability to hire and fire based on faith.

Tacking to the right is understandable: Senator Clinton did it, most Democrats must protect their right flank.

Sen. Obama's announcement is part of a series of events leading up to Friday's Fourth of July holiday that are focused on American values. The Democratic presidential candidate spent Monday talking about his vision of patriotism in the battleground state of Missouri. By twinning that with Tuesday's talk about faith in another battleground state, he was attempting to settle debate in two key areas where his beliefs have come under question while also trying to make inroads with constituencies traditionally loyal to Republicans.

Yes, he must shore up his credentials, take away the point from the Republicans and their right wing brethren.

But Sen. Obama's support for letting religious charities that receive federal funding consider religion in employment decisions could invite a storm of protest from those who view such faith requirements as discrimination.

Yes, the left will attack that, predictably. And they should. Yet, it occurs to me, that could well be something he'd (or he'll) welcome, a Sister Souljah moment that will let him burnish his reputation as one who will not kowtow to the liberals.

Not to be outdone, the Republicans cast their own ridiculousness.

McCain Crowd Tough on Immigration

Sen. John McCain has tilted his position on immigration to the right, but he continues to be greeted by supporters who want him to take an even tougher line. At a town-hall meeting at Worth & Company Inc., a woman asked: "Why as an American do I have to push a button to speak English?" The crowd roared with applause.

"I think you struck a nerve," Sen. McCain said.

A nerve, for sure.

"I'll tell you, I really get ticked," the woman continued. "You go into Lowe's and it says 'Entrada,' " or entrance.

So? The point being?

Sen. McCain gave his standard reply that comprehensive immigration reform, which he pushed for, can't happen until the borders are secure. After that, he said, the nation needs a temporary-worker program "that's truly temporary," and must address the 12 million people in the U.S. illegally.

But he also said that the U.S. should be a welcoming place. "There's a great thing about America and that is that we welcome all cultures from all over the world," he said. "And we love the Hispanic heritage. We love the Irish heritage."

Sen. McCain quickly added: "But English must be learned by everybody." Applause followed.

Secure borders has become an euphemism for "keep out the Mexicans," as I see it. It is good to see that McCain defended immigration and spoke up for "welcoming" -- as were his ancestors, and, surely, those of the questioner.

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