Who's Driving in This Race? (from Washington Post)

Who's Driving in This Race? (from Washington Post)

Dear Stumped:

I lived in the United States for close to seven years. I loved it, it inspired me and I still have very close friends from that time. But why in the world does a country like yours reduce a very crucial presidential election to lipstick and pigs? As a cultivated, well informed, curious European, it just boggles the mind. The world is unraveling at the seams, but your candidates don't seem to want to address it. Why?


Dear Elisabeth:

I can assure you that I am not a cultivated European -- not even close -- and my mind is boggled too. Even we Americans shake our heads at this ongoing spectacle and say, "You have got to be kidding me."

One thing we have learned this year is that it is the system, not the candidates, who drive the silliness. This campaign was supposed to be different, we were told (OK, maybe I was one of the ones doing the telling). Barack Obama and John McCain are both serious, independent-minded individuals who weren't supposed to have any patience for the type of sophomoric, dishonest and tacky gotcha politics we've been witnessing of late.

Cut to the lipstick-wearing pig. Both Obama and McCain -- but especially McCain -- are being pilloried for running disingenuous campaigns that distort their opponents' records and positions. And indeed, McCain's campaign seems intent on setting a new low in terms of over-the-top disingenuousness, wanting you to believe that Obama is a flag-trashing, woman-hating, al-Qaeda-loving community organizer who wants nothing more than to organize sex classes for the community's children. Even Karl Rove is disappointed by McCain's antics -- yikes! The Arizona senator, who was once among Washington's most tenacious critics of corrosive political gimmickry, is now allowing his team to perfect the art.

Call me naïve, but I do believe Obama and McCain intended to run higher-ground, decent campaigns. But the candidate barely controls the tenor of his campaign in an age when cable TV...

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