Jewish World Review March 7, 2000 /30 Adar 1, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- MANY OF US are looking forward to the "Super Tuesday" primaries today --- not because we know what is going to happen, but because this may settle the issue and put a stop to all the media hype we hear every time we turn on the TV.
It is frightening to think of the voters who choose someone to become President of the United States on the basis of superficial images, casual impressions or catchy slogans. This is someone whose policies and actions can make the difference between life and death for your nearest and dearest-- and yet choices among candidates are made with less thought than would go into buying a used car.
The media, so quick to talk about "the public's right to know," seem to think that the public needs to know only sidebars and trivia when it comes to the election campaign. The talking heads do not devote even half as much time to discussing the pros and cons of any serious issue as they do to discussing the spin, the polls, the strategy, and the "base" of each candidate.
Does anyone seriously believe that the future of this great nation is in any way affected by what flag flies over the state capitol in South Carolina or what the founder of Bob Jones University once said?
In this atmosphere of glibness and superficiality, a candidate who can maintain a pious facade for a couple of months can be well on his way to having our lives in his hands in the White House, with the future of this country being his to preserve or poison. Senator John McCain has played this game to the hilt, all the while calling his bus the "straight talk express."
Straight talk? What about McCain's guilt-by-association attacks on Governor Bush for giving a talk at Bob Jones University, because its founder had made anti-Catholic remarks? Insinuations of racism or religious bigotry are too serious to be made recklessly in a political campaign. If anyone knows a single statement or a single act of George W. Bush that was anti-Catholic, let him put up or shut up.
Bush's own brother is Catholic and he is not the only Catholic member of the family. There isn't the slightest indication that Catholics would be worse off under a Bush administration in Washington. If anything, they are likely to find an administration more sympathetic to their views on abortion, the family and fundamental moral values in general.
McCain has not only imitated the Democrats in denouncing "tax cuts for the wealthy" and in advocating government restrictions on campaign contributions, he is also imitating them in promoting group polarization. McCain's scorched-earth policy may be his last desperate chance for the Republican nomination. But an explanation is not an excuse. It is certainly not an excuse for someone whose facade and personal image constitute most of what he has to offer.
We caught a revealing glimpse of the real McCain when he delivered his ugly and bitter concession speech after losing the South Carolina primary. It also tells you a lot when the people who have actually dealt with McCain on a day-to-day basis during his 17 years in Washington are overwhelmingly supporting his opponent.
A President of the United States has to get cooperation from many other people-- in Congress, in the states, and among sovereign nations around the world. Someone who has repelled the people he has worked with for years is not the person for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
McCain seems ready to tear the Republican party apart with internal religious strife and deny it the funds needed to defend itself from the onslaughts of the media, the labor unions and academia-- all of whom are overwhelmingly for the Democrats-- by promoting so-called campaign finance reform. The only explanation that makes sense in all this is McCain's promotion of his own political ambitions, even if it ruins the party that he belongs to. If this isn't wanting to win "in the worst way," then what is?
Add to this McCain's direct personal attacks, not only on Governor Bush,
but on conservative religious leaders as well, and you have a rule-or-ruin
candidate, following a scorched-earth policy. In this effort, truth is a
sometime thing, as when he depicts Bush as a regional candidate, following a
"Southern strategy." Since when are North Dakota, Washington state, Iowa and
Nebraska in the South? Yet Bush has beaten McCain in all these
JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author, most recently, of The Quest for Cosmic Justice.