Category Archives: 2008 presidential race

A gentleman named McCain and a brute named Trump deal with anti-Muslim remarks

It is one of the signature moments of the 2008 presidential campaign: Arizona senator John McCain quickly and forcefully telling a woman that she is wrong in suggesting his opponent, Barack Obama, is an “Arab.”

It is one of the most vile moments of Donald Trump’s presidency: The brute standing by and allowing the crowd to repeatedly chant “send her back,” as he ripped Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar.

Granted, no one moment should determine how we define any individual. However, politicians must be judged by how they react to unfair, unethical and unwise circumstances.

Sen. McCain was a man I admired. No, he was not perfect; he often voted for a policy or made a statement that disappointed me. However, he was a man of decency, a man whose love of country was never questioned.

Trump is a man I will never admire. He has a record, long before he entered politics, of loathing anyone who would not bow to his wishes. He is a failed businessman. He is a twice-failed husband. He mocks the disabled. He endorses racism.

McCain could have let the “Arab” moment slide by without a response. The 2008 campaign already had been filled with ugly and false statements about Mr. Obama. But when McCain had to, he spoke up forcefully and positively about a man he had known for only a short time. He sought to correct and inform a woman who somehow believed Mr. Obama was Arab.

Trump could have stopped the “send her back” moment. But he lacked the grace, the temperament, the intelligence and the humility to do it.

Mr. McCain, thank you for being a positive public servant.

Young adults and politics

One of the benefits of being involved, as I have been for 2-1/2 weeks now, with The Washington Center and its Campaign 2012 academic seminars is meeting young adults with a passion for politics.

Yes, in some cases those political attitudes are raw and just beginning to form into something concrete. And, yes, in some cases those political attitudes are a direct reflection of parents (or other family members).

Regardless, to see a couple hundred of them interested in the political process (a term used broadly in this context) excites me. And at the same time I wish there were more of them able to take part in academic programs such as these and inspired by politics.

Much — and almost all of it negative — was said in Tampa during last week’s Republican National Convention about President Obama and how he engaged young people during the 2008 presidential election. The message, in fact, was extended to almost anyone who felt inspired by Barack Obama in 2008. That message went something like this: Now that the bloom is off that rose, do you still believe in that man and his message?

I anticipate that a direct appeal to young adults again will happen here in Charlotte, where the Democratic National Convention begins in just two days. I am confident the message here will sound something like this: If you want to abandon this president now, well, good luck because unlike Mitt Romney, Barack Obama is fighting for you.

Sure, rhetoric no matter the form is just that. But I like it when I see young people listening to, analyzing, believing in, criticizing and talking politics.

The GOP is lost (and other media headlines that should make you laugh)

I “love” the doom and gloom headlines that too often top a story about one of America’s two main political parties.

You’ll recall that in just the past four years, we’ve been told the GOP was destined for years of irrelevance (2008) and that Democrats were heading for a wasteland (2010). Well, that kind of headline reared its ugly head today, as New York Magazine boldly claimed the GOP was “the lost party.”

Except it’s not. Consider this excerpt:

That Mitt Romney finds himself so imperiled by Rick Santorum—Rick Santorum!—is just the latest in a series of jaw-dropping developments in what has been the most volatile, unpredictable, and just plain wackadoodle Republican-nomination contest ever. Part of the explanation lies in Romney’s lameness as a candidate, in Santorum’s strength, and in the sudden efflorescence of social issues in what was supposed to be an all-economy-all-the-time affair. But even more important have been the seismic changes within the Republican Party. “Compared to 2008, all the candidates are way to the right of John McCain,” says longtime conservative activist Jeff Bell. “The fact that Romney is running with basically the same views as then but is seen as too moderate tells you that the base has moved rightward and doesn’t simply want a conservative candidate—it wants a very conservative one.”

The transfiguration of the GOP isn’t only about ideology, however. It is also about demography and temperament, as the party has grown whiter, less well schooled, more blue-collar, and more hair-curlingly populist. The result has been a party divided along the lines of culture and class: Establishment versus grassroots, secular versus religious, upscale versus downscale, highfalutin versus hoi polloi. And with those divisions have arisen the competing electoral coalitions—shirts versus skins, regulars versus red-hots—represented by Romney and Santorum, which are now increasingly likely to duke it out all spring.

Few Republicans greet that prospect sanguinely, though some argue that it will do little to hamper the party’s capacity to defeat Obama in the fall. “It’s reminiscent of the contest between Obama and Clinton,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently opined. “[That] didn’t seem to have done [Democrats] any harm in the general election, and I don’t think this contest is going to do us any harm, either.”

I don’t buy the comparison to the GOP in 2012 to the Democratic Party in 2008, but I do accept that the Republicans are hopeful that the long primary battle will not adversely affect their chances for winning the White House.

I also accept that the biggest problem the Republicans have is that a large segment of their electorate does not like or will not support Mitt Romney. Compounding the “Romney problem” is that Mr. Santorum can be easily viewed as significantly outside the mainstream.

Nevertheless, can we stop the nonsense that claims one or the other of our political parties is toast?