10 August 2007

Being Professional

I read something on Neal Boortz’s website on Wednesday (yes, I did end up surfing the news a bit – but just FoxNews and Boortz), linked to the actual article, where Newt Gingrich calls Hillary Clinton a “formidable professional.” Boortz, a little reluctantly, agrees that it’s true.

Of course it is. Claiming, somehow, that Clinton is a novice would be just as wrong-headed as claiming that Bush is a dunce. Both statements attempt to avoid addressing the person by belittling his or her individual characteristics. But addressing the person and their actions is exactly what is needed in this, or any other, political campaign. It is needed even more so in this particular political season which seems as if it will never end.

In this endless political season there is a sense that what a candidate says at the moment is more important than positions taken in the past. The sound-bytes thrown around belie what really deserves examination: candidates positions on very important issues at the time. Anyone can claim a position in retrospect – I was for/against the war/troops, I would/would not have taken such action, I would/would not have taken a given position. It’s much more difficult, as some candidates are finding out, to live down what they’ve already done.

Since I’m off the ‘net while writing this, I can’t supply ample evidence for this, but I would bet that left-leaning folks would be shocked and amazed at just how hawkish Senator Clinton was during her time as First Lady. It would be interesting to hear her views on the whys and wherefores of Desert Fox, Allied Force, Haiti, etc. What were her feelings and views at the time of these operations? That would be better evidence of her potential leadership (as Commander-in-Chief, anyway) than any number of sound-bytes from the here and now. Her views on healthcare would be a good indication of how she would really handle domestic policy.

And I don’t mean to single out Senator Clinton only. I think that it’s true of all of the candidates. And I’m not talking about digging up dirt on anyone, either. More an honest evaluation of where these candidates have been, what they thought at the time during major events, and why they felt that way. If a candidate wants to attempt to convince folks that he or she would now take a different course, that’s fine – give it a shot. But the past is important and shouldn’t be buried by either side through sound-bytes or invective.

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