Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Enough with asinine "gotcha" politics

Please read this great analysis of the Palin baby scandal, from Salon's Rebecca Traister.  Barack Obama has told his supporters that families are off limits in political campaigns.  Let's follow his lead.  Here's an excerpt from Traister's piece:

"It's certainly tempting to fall into the trap of attacking back, of making Bristol Palin and her boyfriend and her fetus the football we kick around for the next two months, four years, or however long Palin survives on the Republican ticket.

But how far can that take us? The news that many politicians are hypocrites should not blow many minds. This rhetorical game -- asking politicians who make the laws to apply them to themselves or their own kin -- is an old American favorite. It happens when Michael Moore accosts congresspeople on the street asking why their kids aren't in the Iraq war they voted for; it happens when Michael Dukakis is asked in a debate how he would respond if his own wife were raped; it even happens when Barack Obama talks about getting the rest of the country the same kind of healthcare packages he and his fellow members of Congress have given themselves.

It's a strategy that can be useful, like when it comes to healthcare arguments. But when applied to personal turmoil, the unearthing of stuff that few families could survive unscathed, it becomes more troubling. It is a game that ignores the fact that there's a real person, a real family, a real kid about to have another real kid, all of whom are being used as political punching bags. When it suits us, we bypass the fact that many of us believe that what happens within the families and bedrooms of our politicians -- while diverting, even titillating -- shouldn't cloud our perceptions of how they do their jobs. It's what we believed when Clinton was witch-hunted out of his second term, when we talk about Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy, when we fete Ted Kennedy."

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