put away the stones. there are no saints among us, especially in the chattering class of politicians. let’s not pretend that we could even find such a person willing to run for political office today. we know more about those politicians than we want to know, and (may i dare to suggest) more than we need to know. believe it or not, this will not be the first or the last time we elect people with skeletons in their closets. acknowledge the possibility and accept that reality.
let’s start with the premise that there is something about each and every one of us that we don’t want the whole world to know about. we all have dirty laundry that we wouldn’t want to be aired in a public forum. this is even more true of politicians than it is for us. should we care so much about the personal lives of politicians? when does it have any bearing on how well the person would perform in his/her job? i’m not suggesting that when there are obvious ethical violations (like the foley mess, for example), that we need to look the other way and ignore it. i do believe that there’s a serious problem when we are fighting about which politician’s life is less screwed up. leave that garbage to the celebrity gossip columns, and let’s talk about what’s really important to us as a nation. that’s what this election should be about. that’s what the 2008 election should be about.
this election should be about issues, not about personalities. i cringe with each campaign speech mentioning that “san francisco liberal nancy pelosi”, and that our democracy as we know it is DOOMED, DOOMED i tell you…if liberals like her are in control of congress. for the politically engaged, mentions of specific personalities like pelosi may have an effect. for everyone else, they are left with several questions: “ok, so why should we care?” and “who’s nancy pelosi?”
republicans have done an excellent job making the word “liberal” a pejorative term. what they haven’t done successfully is to define what makes liberals dangerous to have in control of congress. that’s where the battle needs to be fought. we need to explain why the other side has the wrong strategy on north korea, iraq, and iran, and that electing them would mean higher taxes and wrong-headed foreign policy.
that should be our focus as we head toward november, because if republicans make the debate about ideas and talk about values, we win.