Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lipstick, flag pins and elections

One reason I started this blog is because I believe that US presidential elections are deadly serious events. People give their lives to have opportunities like this. So I've been pretty disheartened by the level of public discourse over the past couple of weeks. I know there are strong structural and psychological incentives in every election to pay attention to trivialities rather than issues. Every election has its share of lying, deception, exaggeration, and twisting of facts. But frankly, I expected more from Senator McCain, whose public image has been built around the notion of integrity.

I am an Obama supporter, and have been for some time, so I know I'm biased. But McCain's personal attacks on Obama's integrity and patriotism, the phony sexism charges, and the sex education attack ad were just outright lies. Not accidentally false claims, or exaggerations, but deliberate Rovian lies.

I find McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as VP to be along the same vein. I actually find a lot about Gov. Palin that I personally like. But McCain's decision-making process was cynical, rash, and ill-prepared. Whatever you think about Palin, McCain cannot have been thinking about effective governing when he made this decision. He was thinking about effective politicking-- and even then, only the most cynical form of identity politics that America should be trying to move beyond in 2008.

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