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Published: Saturday, 10/11/2008

That one' was not presidential

BY ROSE RUSSELL

SEN. John McCain found Sen. Barack Obama's campaign theme of 'change' so appealing that he adopted it himself.

However, given that Senator McCain has yielded to the politics of old, he's not about change.

Based on recent polls, water is rapidly accumulating in John McCain's ship and he's using personality, race, and dirty politics to try to save himself and keep the electorate's focus off kilter enough to try to cruise through Nov. 4 and emerge the victor.

Although the polls are tilting in Senator Obama's favor, it still could be a tight race. At this point, though, it doesn't appear that the Arizona senator will grab the prize.

Senator McCain recognizes he's in the middle of a financial disaster that has made voters angry about a morass of issues that add up to high prices, plunging retirement savings, and the unfair bailout of big corporations.

Meanwhile, citizens who don't have a smidgen of financial expertise get trampled and are left to figure it out for themselves, with no help from government.

Sure, gas prices have dropped, but for how long? Long enough to plunge voters into a lull to think the good times are back, so they celebrate by drinking themselves into a stupor and neglect to vote on Election Day?

Americans believe there's some sinister ploy behind the falling cost of a gallon of gasoline, and that it is directly related to the upcoming presidential election.

But John McCain and Sarah Palin have the answers for all your troubles. They want you to focus on the past and on the personality of Senator Obama.

They have launched attack ads and nasty politics that have nothing to do with getting the nation out of war, reducing the national debt, returning unemployed citizens to work, bringing jobs back to the inside of these shores, saving people's homes, and addressing health care and energy costs.

Nah. That pair prefers to appeal to their audiences with comments tinged with racial overtones and to discuss nonissues.

Mrs. Palin is one to talk about 'truthfulness and judgment.' Up in Alaska, there still are questions about her role in the firing of her former brother-in-law and the so-called 'Bridge to Nowhere.'

And please, don't mention judgment, not when this GOP vice presidential candidate is too hokey and can't intelligently craft a sensible response to reporters' inquiries.

If Mrs. Palin gets annoyed about reporters because she thinks their questions are unfair, then there isn't much hope for her getting through deliberations with world leaders without being perturbed, now is there? Why would a public official get upset about being asked what newspapers she reads every day?

And if you listen closely to Mrs. Palin or read her remarks, you know what I mean when I say her communication is garbled. Then ask yourself if you'd want her at a negotiating table with foreign leaders.

Mrs. Palin also insists on trying to manufacture a connection between Senator Obama and William Ayers.

So tell me, Mrs. Palin, how many families fretted at their dinner tables this week about Barack Obama's nonties with the founder of a radical group that was active when the senator was 8 years old?

Families I know discussed how they will get their college students home for the holidays and tried to figure out how much money to send them money they really need for a trip to the doctor or to put gasoline into the car to get to their jobs that have slashed their benefits and pay.

Families I know talked about whether they can manage to buy compact fluorescent light bulbs to try to reduce their electric bill, to buy their children shoes for school, and whether they can manage to send their youngsters on school trips.

They talked about how to pay for the additional gasoline to go see a loved one in a nursing home, and how to help them pay for medication and nominal in-home care.

They talked about where else they could reduce their grocery bill that's already cut back to basic foods because food costs substantially more these days. And while salaries in many cases don't keep pace, those on unemployment are watching their budgets even closer still.

If Mrs. Palin read newspapers more often and not just last weekend's editions of the New York Times she would know that.

She would know why people are hurting and are upset and want real change.

She would know that though voters are aware of the past of both presidential candidates anybody recall the Keating Five? they are not focused on the cursory contact between the Illinois senator and Mr. Ayers.

Instead, Mrs. Palin and the GOP are both riding high on cheers from her mesmerized followers who have downed whole pitchers of Sold for Sarah, Sweet on Sarah, Slave to Sarah, or Palin Passion Kool-Aid.

These are among the reasons that the GOP ticket is not good for America, or the world, at this time.

Now, as for Senator McCain's reference to Senator Obama at Tuesday's debate, when he talked about how they voted on the energy bill: it was disrespectful and replete with racial overtones.

'You know who voted for it?' Senator McCain asked.

'You might never know That One,' he said, referring to Senator Obama.

Yep. I couldn't believe it, but that's what he said.

Kind of reminds me of George H.W. Bush's reference to his grandchildren, Jeb Bush's children who are Mexican-American, as 'the little brown ones.'

But let's set that response aside for a moment and view his statement from another perspective.

Suppose Senator McCain really couldn't recall the name of Senator Obama, his opponent whose name has been said repeatedly in the months they have been campaigning.

Can you imagine how will it affect diplomacy if he forgets the names of world leaders and refers to one of them in a similar way?

Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor.

E-mail rrussell@theblade.com



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