Pastorgate Redux

The Republican Party has to take the low road: To seek advantage by disparaging the Democratic candidate.

us special 2 224 (photo credit: )
us special 2 224
(photo credit: )
A exclusive blog As the Democratic Party nomination process is winding down, the focus will soon shift to the contest between the Democratic and Republican nominees. It is to be hoped that the tone of the ensuing election period will focus on the serious issues that will challenge the new President, with American prestige abroad at low ebb, and with a weakening economy. The upcoming election should then focus on the issues and on the candidates themselves to determine which of the two candidates has the better understanding of the problems facing America and who will have the greater likelihood of succeeding to lead America out of its current morass and to a more secure and confident tomorrow. To assist in the selection, the American voter is entitled - even obligated - to inquire into the vision and the character of the respective candidates. The best way, and the right way, is to examine the candidates themselves: to hear their approach to the issues and the problems and their proposed method of dealing with these problems. This is the high road. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has, in the past, and continues to date, to take the low road: to seek advantage by disparaging the Democratic candidate with rumor and innuendo. The connection between Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama still leads some to suspect that Obama may not be the best friend of Israel. I wonder if you are as tired of this old charge as I am. After all, didn't Obama clarify the situation and denounce his former cleric? Hasn't he left his church precisely because of his disagreement? The Republicans would be well warned that character assassination is a sword that can cut both ways. The very charge of association with unsavory clerics has also brought discomfort to John McCain, who recently repudiated his association with the fundamentalist Christian cleric, John Hagee who made statements that are offensive to Jews. McCain has also repudiated his association with the cleric Rod Parsley, an Ohio preacher, who had gone on record offending Islam. Does any of the above mean that Obama is anti-White, and John McCain is anti-Jewish and anti-Islam, simply because they were once associated with clerics who are extreme in their views? It does not. Mere association with a person of repugnant views does not imply endorsement of those views. A statement of repudiation should be sufficient to put the issue to rest. Of course, there is a significant difference between the charge against Obama and McCain. The Republicans disparaged Obama by associating him with Louis Farrakhan by associating him with Pastor Wright - thus creating an association where no real association existed. McCain, on the other hand, demonstrated poor judgment by having actively sought the endorsement of the clerics he now repudiates. An additional charge of unsavory association has been made by claiming that Mr. Obama's top adviser on nuclear strategy, one Joseph Cirincione, has issued statements that are inimical to Israel's security. When he was confronted with these accusations, Mr. Cirincione expressed surprise, adding: "I am not a top advisor to Senator Obama. I have never met the Senator. I have written occasional memos to his campaign and publicly endorsed his candidacy, but I am afraid there is no way I could be considered 'Barack Obama's top expert on matters nuclear.'" Rumor and innuendo have only the flimsiest association with the truth. I say: enough of this. It is distasteful. It borders on libel. It is wrong. And it will never lead you to the truth. From time immemorial, man has sought the secret of predicting the future, or more specifically, future human behavior, by mystical means. Some thought that the secret lie in rattling bones, others from reading animal entrails and some by gazing at stars and planets. None of these methods work. Also ineffective is the method of predicting a person's thoughts or actions by examining the thoughts of people they are casually associated with. Anyone who lives in a family knows that even people who have a long and intense association with each other can differ strongly with each other - even on fundamental issues. Clearly therefore, individuals with only a casual association can and almost certainly will, disagree greatly on many issues. The views of a candidate's associates, today or in the past, cannot reliably predict the future views or future actions of the candidate. No candidate is a mindless agent who simply parrots the thoughts of others. Candidates should be given more credit than that; otherwise he/she does not deserve the job of being a leader. It is time that the Republicans stop this habit of trying to besmirch the Obama candidacy by illogical and muckraking means, by focusing on things they don't like about Obama's associates rather than on examining Obama himself. If they would, they might have to concede the truth: that Barack Obama, who stands for change, will indeed help Israel end its continued isolation in the world, and the continuing tensions with states and entities hostile to it. An Obama presidency, led by a leader with a passionate concern for Israel's security, will help bring about the positive change that is so necessary. Which candidate is best for America? Which candidate is best for Israel? These are important questions that should be faced head on. I challenge the Republicans to discuss the issues and the candidates themselves. If they would abandon their gossip-mongering, and raise the tone of their debate, they might perform the service of assisting to enlighten and inform the public on the true issues in this election. Sheldon Schorer is Counsel to Democrats Abroad Israel