Unfortunately for Presidential hopeful, Senator Barack Obama, and for the country at large, unlike the NBA and NFL, US politics does not have referees. So when the lies are told, by his opponents and detractors alike, he cannot stand idly by and wait for a whistle to be blown for an infraction.
Viewed from another perspective, traditionally, the media are supposed to play the role of the referee, but have been far from effective, often playing the role of spectator, at times applauding from the sidelines and amplifying the lies.
The barrage of lies and misstatements directed at Obama by the McCain camp is, without question, inadequately responded to by the Obama camp. He exudes a cool and calm demeanor unsuited to the dirt that the Republicans have become so adept at hurling at opponents over the years. Some examples:
The 1988 Willie Horton ad which helped sink Dukakis in his 1988 race against George H. W. Bush;
The Jesse Helms’ Hands which shows the hands of a white man crushing a letter that represents a job given to a “less qualified” black man;
This Republican Party ad , which features a white woman inviting Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), who is black, to “call me,” so loaded with racist overtones that even Ford’s opponent distanced himself from it.
The “smear” against John McCain in the 2000 race against President Bush when it was claimed that a child from Bangladesh, adopted by the McCain family, was his own illegitimate black child.
Now, John McCain is extending the list, successfully steering the Obama campain away from the issues, which he must avoid at all costs to be able to win, and putting Obama on defense. Obama appears to be doing a rope-a-dope to McCain’s full-court press, except that Muhammad Ali would respond mightily … before Round 15.
Many of us are surprised at the lack of adequate and forceful responses from Obama. I’ve heard the explanation that he doesn’t want to play dirty politics, doesn’t want to get into the gutter, that he doesn’t want to be nasty. And I’m reminded of Michael Jordan, who didn’t do trash talking on the court, but went to the basket, loose-tongued, with a determination. And he made his statement by getting the ball in the basket, on occasion with a vicious slam dunk.
Obama owes it to himself and to those of us concerned with the possibility of a Supreme Court full of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas clones who will take us back to the 19th century.
It is now patently obvious that Obama is mistaken when he speaks of four more years of Bush. This time, it will be much worse than Bush has been. Worse because the President could be a man who believes Pakistan shares a border with Iraq; that Czechoslovakia still exists; that Iran is training Al-Qaeda. And, should he die, by a President whose claim to foreign policy expertise is having Canada on the border of Alaska and the farthest reaches of eastern Russia, 58 miles away across the Bering Strait.
With that reasoning, I can claim to speak Spanish like a native because I spend some time in Peru; Russian like Vladimir Putin because I have visited Russia twice; Chinese like Mao Zedong because I have visited China twice; Arabic, because I have visited Egypt twice as well. And there are other languages which I obviously master, because I have visited Turkey, Greece, France, Brasil and Portugal, Sweden, Holland, etc. I also have more foreign policy expertise, having visited 48 countries. Obama would have done well to pick me for Vice President, rather than John Biden who opined that Hillary Clinton would have made a better Vice Presidential pick than himself.
What ails these Democrats who have lost their compass, so desperate to prove that they are tough, love their country, are not liberals, love God, and are dignified and above getting into the fray.
Give me that scrapper, Biill Clinton, any day of the week. I often disagree with him, but the man knows how to throw a punch.
And I approve this message!
PATRICK B. BARR, formerly with The Daily Gleaner, Kingston, Jamaica. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org