Thursday, July 31, 2008

Open Season?

Warning: this is a rant. If you're not in the mood to hear me grousing about life, feel free to skip this entry.

The political climate of 2008 is even more overwrought, it seems to me, than ever before. Certainly the choice of President of the United States is important, but in the heat of battle, more and more people are losing their heads and saying things that should never be said. Pundits on network TV routinely attack the personal lives of candidates, making such vicious insinuations that one has to wonder why. (Think I'm kidding? Look up the remark Ann Coulter made last winter about John Edwards and the death of his son.)

A recent email going around now is castigating Michelle Obama for the senior thesis she wrote as an undergraduate at Princeton University. The email message purports to have the credibility of behind it, yet when I went to myself, I found the email to be quite a bit off base. See

Michelle Obama was 22 years old when she wrote her senior thesis in 1985. She was a college student, getting ready to graduate with her Bachelor's degree and worrying about getting into graduate school. That's 23 years ago. For most adults, the time period between college graduation and middle age constitutes a lifetime of experience and a world of change in perspective. Mrs. Obama is 45 years old now and a different person. Do we have any fact-based reason to not believe that her perspective now would be, if she is an average person like you and me, based on that of a seasoned adult and not an immature undergraduate?

Should anyone's potential as First Lady be predicated on a viewpoint expressed before she'd even graduated from college? I would hate to be judged on some of the boneheaded opinions I held when I was in my early 20's. I would hate to have someone accuse me of thinking the same way now as I did then, because it would be patently untrue. Some of my opinions at that time were due to an uninformed and immature view of the world, some could be chalked up to an attempt at trying to please someone else. Can you say, in all honesty, that none of the opinions you expressed in the past have changed? Are you exactly the same person you were in your early 20's? Studies show that the human brain is still developing during a person's early 20's -- right up to the age of 25 or so. What does that say about our thinking at that time in our lives?

I'm not defending Mrs. Obama (or Mr. Obama for that matter), nor am I expressing in this entry an intent to vote for one candidate or another. Rather I'm using this situation as an example of how crazy and damaging the political process has become. Candidates should be judged on the record they amass during their time as adults in the real world, not when they were college students barely out of high school.

And I think, more than ever, that our culture has lost sight of the fact that the candidates are human beings. A campaign does not constitute "open season," not on John McCain and his family and not on Barack Obama and his family, nor on any other public person. Spreading rumors and innuendo is wrong, no matter who it is and, quite frankly, no matter what they've done.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is the Golden Rule. That should apply during a political campaign, too.


opinions_count? said...

If you are to defend the Obama's so openly for bone headed comments they've made, some being in the last year "(I have never been proud of the u.s until now?" Michelle Obama). We live in the greatest nation! How can you not be proud? we've made mistakes over the years but still, where's her patriotism? You said in fact we should not judge people for mistakes they made when they where younger or things you do not know for a fact. Would you fight for for Bush or McCain the same? Because I have seen lots of misrepresentations on both and did not see this noted in your blog.

Catherine said...

Hmmm.... do I know you? A look-see at your Blogger profile reveals nothing.

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

The "opinions_count?" commenter undoubtedly found this blog post by googling a subject that made it come up in a search. You meet people that way!

It's certainly wrong when this kind of illegitimate attack happens to either side, but that doesn't mean that pointing out ONE illegitimate attack means the blogger supports other illegitimate attacks.

This one interested me because:

It's against the wife, not the candidate and is about a school thesis from nearly 25 years ago,

...and because if you read the info at the link, you find that the attack email deliberately -- deliberately -- takes an observation Michelle made about what others thought in another historical period, and tries to make it look like SHE held that view whe she wrote it.

She wrote that in the 1970's some blacks felt the need to unite against "a white oppressor," which is not even close to her feeling that way herself in 1985.

Pointing out this wacko interpretation has zilch to do with whether Obama should be elected. It has everything to so with basing our votes on things are factual and sane!

Catherine said...

"Pointing out this wacko interpretation has zilch to do with whether Obama should be elected. It has everything to so with basing our votes on things are factual and sane!"


Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

Of course that was supposed to be "everything to do."

opinions_count? said...

So often people that write these kind of rants are Democrats First and everything else second. In turn it often puts others on defense because usually democrats are very vocal at tearing apart any and all republicans whether they deserve it or not. And louder defending Democrats whether they deserve it or not. I glad to hear you will be "basing our votes on things are factual and sane!"
By the way I agree Mrs. Obama and the other canidates and their wives should be cut a lot of slack for what they said and did 20 some years ago,just not what they says now!
Out of curiosity did you hold President Bush's DUI's against him or his other mistake that he made in his twenty's?

Catherine said...

Are you planning to reveal your profile? I am happy to correspond with people I know, but not with anonymous posters.