Monday, June 23, 2008


What are the REAL issues in the 2008 Presidential election?

Race. Death.

John McCain’s most endearing quality is embodied in the name he gave his bus – not an airplane (although his wife does have her own private, corporate jet), and not his limo – but his bus. He called it “The Straight Talking Express.” The meaning is clear, the implication so strong the very word, implication, seems inadequate. “John McCain will tell you the truth” – that’s what it says. Who doesn’t want that?

The question then becomes: “Tell the truth about what?” What are the issues Americans have at the forefront of their minds? In our national dialogue, where is the need for truth burning brightest? War? Sure, but look at modern history a moment and you’ll see – war isn’t really much of Presidential election issue. Of the last 7 Presidents (from FDR to W. Bush) only 2 have not had a war: Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. A lot of good that did them. Ford couldn’t beat anybody outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Carter, who could only manage a slim victory over Ford, couldn’t beat a washed-up actor, turned California Governor. Peace – or at lest the absence of war – didn’t help either Carter or Ford among voters. And the other 5, well they all said they were “War Presidents” in one manner or another. No antiwar candidate has ever been elected – not in this country.

Telling the “Truth” about war might be overrated in the election between John McCain and Barack Obama.

What about healthcare, gas and food prices, saving Medicare, repairing America’s outdated, crumbling infrastructure, or any of a number of other economic and domestic issues? How important is “Truth” to the voters, on these issues? One way to figure that is to look at the last 60 years of Presidential campaigns and see what those issues have meant. The answer is: not much. Harry Truman first ran on a platform of universal healthcare – in 1948! Since we still don’t have it yet, isn’t it fair to suggest – we really don’t care. If we did, wouldn’t we have elected somebody – anybody – in the last 60 years who supported it?

The same kind of analysis can be applied to every other “standard” issue usually found in an American Presidential election. Promises are made. Promises are then broken or, at best, left unfulfilled. So, again, I ask: Isn’t it fair to say that these issues are not really that important with the voters? We keep getting nothing in return for our votes, yet we continue to vote for candidates who continue to say the same things – over and over.

So, again… What are the REAL issues in the 2008 election?

Race. Death.

Question #1. Will Americans (enough of them anyway) really vote for a Black man to be President of the United States?

I suppose it’s universally accepted that Black Americans will – won’t they? So, actually, the question boils down to whether or not those voters Hillary Clinton so deftly recognized as “white Americans” - will they cast their secret, private ballots for the black guy or will the force of their race (without the “ism”) drive the hand that pulls the lever, punches the card or touches the screen to vote for the white guy?

I think it’s fair to say – at this point in time – no one knows the answer to this question. We will all find out together as the TV networks call one state after another on Election Eve. Some Americans are certain to be disappointed.

Question #2. Will Americans (enough of them anyway) really vote for a man who might die, from natural causes, at any time?

You might think “Age” is the issue, and I’m sure John McCain would like to frame the discussion that way. But, “Age” is not the issue. “Death” is. On this one, its very much like the just deceased George Carlin used to say about air travel: “I’m not afraid of flying. I’m afraid of crashing!”

John McCain wants to be President at age 72 and continue in office until… at least, age 76. Since no President wants to be a “lame duck” on the day he takes office, John McCain is really asking Americans to make him President of the United States until he’s 80 years old. For many, that would be just fine…. If he lives that long!

How reasonable is it to assume he might not – might not live long enough to fill out his term? How normal would it be for a President McCain to simply die in office? Hey, don’t get pissed! Aren’t we looking for “Truth” here?

Look at this small and partial list of people who have died, from natural causes – people who have died a perfectly normal death, not from accidents or acts of violence – in just the last year – and look how old they were:

George Carlin, age 71
Tim Russert, age 58
Bob Anderson, age 75 (George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life”)
Bo Diddley, age 79
Yves St. Laurent, age 71
Sydney Pollack, age 73
Jimmy McGriff, age 72
Mildred Loving, age 68
Dith Pran, age 65
Dave Clark, age 64 (remember “The Dave Clark Five”)
Suzanne Pleshette, age 70
Bobby Fischer, age 64 (We’ll always have Iceland!)
Dr. Judah Folkman, age 74 (Harvard Medical School cancer researcher)
Johnny Podres, age 75 (We’ll always have Brooklyn!)
Ike Turner, age 76
Luciano Pavarotti, age 71
Hy Lit, age 73
Tom Snyder, age 71
Tammy Faye Messner, age 65
Liz Claiborne, age 78

If you were running for President, which would you rather be – black or old?

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