Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Sense of Decency

Having covered politics on a local and national level, I'm fully aware of the fact that you don't enter the arena unprepared for personal attacks. It is, sadly, the nature of the beast. Last week, I was tired of the non-issue barbs that were being lobbed as I watched and read the news. At one point, I felt as if I was going to have to just quit watching altogether. Don't get me wrong - I love a good debate almost as much as I love the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the NBA playoffs collectively. But I like it when the candidates make valid points about each others weaknesses and their differences. You know, on the issues. Yes, Barack Obama once served on a board with a man who - when Obama was 8 years old - did some heinous things. But McCain has had his fair share of inflammatory associates, and Sarah Palin's roost even closer than either Obama's or McCain's tenuous connections to nefarious individuals - her own husband was/is part of a group that wants Alaska to secede from the Union - and she encouraged them to "keep up the good work." I'd like to see the YouTube clip of Obama screaming that Sarah Palin is not a patriot because of those connections. I would. But it doesn't exist - because like it or not, Obama's camp has been far more respectful of the McCain campaign than they have of him. The first debate, McCain won't even look at Obama. The second one, while Obama sits and waits for McCain to finish his responses, McCain wanders the stage while Obama makes his. And perhaps disrespect wins elections. The polling doesn't indicate that, but it's about a month away from Election Day, and perhaps a steady drumbeat of insinuation, crowd fomenting and disrespect will indeed win the election. I don't know. However this week, I've become more worried than annoyed. Alarmed that this ugly race that's getting uglier every minute could turn tragic. Maybe it's alarmist, but when you shout to your audience and they scream back "Kill him!" and "He's a bomb!" You've ceased campaigning, and are encouraging wack jobs and others lacking that filter that keeps them from acting on impulse. So my question is this: If the unthinkable were to happen, and one of these foaming-at-the-mouth rally attenders loads his shotgun and manages to do something horrific - even if it's not an assassination - do McCain and Palin share some culpability? What do you say to the nation if your words incite a nightmare in the name of winning?