Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On character and experience

John McCain cites his character and Hillary Clinton her experience as the reasons why each should be the next president of the United States.

McCain professes to be a man of integrity and high moral principles, an ethics champion and an ardent opponent of the influence of lobbyists and special interests. Yet, he was a notorious member of the "Keating Five," one of the elected officials who sold his soul to and facilitated the criminal wrongdoings of the crooked savings and loan magnate Charles Keating that ultimately cost American taxpayers billions of dollars to bail out the savings and loan industry. Now, while he hypocritically campaigns against special interests and lobbyists, he is the "go to guy" for telecom industry players like Bud Paxson who have business before the Senate Commerce Committee that he chairs. And his campaign is virtually run by lobbyists including Thomas Loeffler (finance chairman), Susan E. Nelson, (finance director), William L. Ball III (political adviser), John Green (legislative liaison), Rick Davis (campaign manager) and Charles R. Black, Jr. (political adviser). His campaign slogan should be "Do as I say, not as I do."

Hillary Clinton repeatedly states that she is the most qualified person to be president because of her extensive foreign policy experience. To bolster her claim, she boasted that she dodged bullets in Bosnia and negotiated and secured peace in Northern Ireland, but it turns out that she didn't do either of those things. Indeed, she never negotiated with any foreign nation, she never made foreign policy decisions on behalf of the United States, she was never a member of the National Security Council, and she was never a national security advisor to the president. She hasn't truthfully cited a single assignment or achievement that qualifies as foreign policy experience.

And then there's Barack Obama. Perhaps he screwed up when he didn't disown the statements and the person of his racist and arguably unpatriotic pastor in a timely or sufficient fashion. And he certainly misjudged the character of Tony Rezko when he allowed that unsavory figure to become his benefactor. But these errors of judgment didn't result in the loss of over 4,000 American soldiers' lives, tens of thousands of wounded and maimed Americans and Iraqis, the destruction of Iraq's infrastructure, and the incomprehensible waste of trillions of American dollars that could have been used to avoid our recession and rebuild our nation.

George W. Bush—and John McCain and Hillary Clinton—are purveyors of fear. It would be a welcome change to listen to an intelligent, thoughtful, inspiring leader who tells us we can transcend our differences and work together to solve our problems. "Yes we can," if we elect Barack Obama president of the United States.

Michael Saphier

Sun Valley

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