2008-04-04 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

I'm Worried About The Democratic Candidates, And I Am Definitely Not Alone!
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Even life-long Democrats, as I am, are beginning to worry about the two Democratic candidates for the presidency as they slug it out, both literally and figuratively, for the nomination.

My first vote as a 21-year-old (you had to be 21 in those halcyon days) was for John F. Kennedy and his promise of a new world for a new generation.

There are those who say that Obama now carries the Kennedy mantle. I lived during the heyday of John and Bobby Kennedy, and I have to tell you, Obama is no John Kennedy, and not even a Bobby Kennedy.

When Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton broke from the pack early out, I was pleased.

I said at the time that I could never vote for a Republican, not after Bush, but that I could vote for either Obama or Clinton (or both, on a joint ticket).

Now, just months later, I'm not so sure I could vote for either of them, and I'm not alone in that feeling, particularly among Democrats.

In fact, a recent Gallup Poll found that nearly 30 percent of Clinton backers say they would vote for McCain, the Republican candidate, should Obama win the nomination.

That's a pretty high number, and I am sure that a migration like the one threatened, should Obama win the nomination, hasn't been seen before - at least not in my lifetime. Traditionally, the Democratic primary is a bloodbath, and then the party faithful come together to support the winner. I don't believe that will happen this time, however.

Not only has the battle been unusually contentious, but it has revealed flaws in both candidates that won't be covered up when the national campaign begins in September.

Why my growing dissatisfaction with both of the Democratic candidates?

First of all, Hillary Clinton is quickly losing me on the credibility issue.

Everybody exaggerates a bit on his or her resume, but you can't do it when you're running for president and you're exaggerating an event that was covered by all the news cameras in the world.

Clinton's contention that she was under fire when she landed in Bosnia was quickly proved untrue by the news people who covered the event. They quickly called up the footage to prove that she was never in danger and that she, in fact, stopped to speak with a group of kids on the tarmac.

Not important, you say?

It is if you consider honor and credibility among the most important attributes of a president.

Clinton has been disingenuous on far too many issues to be given even a gentlemen's C on credibility.

I always figured that she had the best chance of any Democrat of beating John McCain.

Now, I don't think so.

She has damaged herself with her core constituency and I don't think she can recover when the Republicans start pounding her should she win the nomination.

Which brings us to Obama.

He is an impressive orator and his call to change moves people, especially young people, and brings them into the political process.

What does his call to change mean, however? I am not sure that I have heard him speak in more than generalities ever since the campaign began. He needs more than generalities.

He needs credibility and I don't think he has yet earned the trust of the voters.

In addition to his lack of specific ideas and plans, there are two things that bother me about Obama.

The first is the Reverend Jeremiah Wright issue and the second is his lack of what can only be called patriotism.

I firmly believe that his refusal to wear a flag pin on his lapel and his failure to hold his hand over his heart when the National Anthem is played are both purposeful and aimed at John McCain.

Why else would a candidate for the highest office in the nation snub the nation's most important symbols?

The U.S. Code, Title 36, Chapter 10, subsections 170 and 171, outline the rules for the playing of the National Anthem and the conduct of those present when the anthem is played.

While the Code does not prescribe penalties for those who disobey the rules, it is clear that those who are running for high office should pay some honor to the code by doing what it recommends.

What does the US Code say about the prescribed behavior during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner?

It's words are succint and not at all open to interpretation.

"During the rendition of the National Anthem when the flag is displayed, all present, except those in uniform, should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart."

On the campaign trail, Obama stands at what might pass for attention at a disorganized Boy Scout meeting, but he does not ever put his hand over his heart.

Nor, does he wear the traditional American Flag pin over his heart, as do many others.

I am not the only one who has noticed the lack of honor that Obama gives the National Anthem as well as the American Flag.

When questioned about it, a spokesperson for Obama said that the Senator "wants to move on past the kind of politics that uses patriotism as a cudgel."

Well-said, but it is not going to wash in the red states, the same states that Obama carried in his battle with Clinton.

If he tries that in a battle with Mc- Cain, a genuine war hero who flew an A-4 Skyhawk bomber in missions over Vietnam, who spent five years in the Hanoi Hilton, a man who believes in "Duty, Honor, Country," he will then get run over by a steamroller.

And, I believe, that is why he studiously keeps from wearing a flag pin and honoring the National Anthem.

He is playing to what he considers to be his core constituency - the liberal war-haters who think, as does his spiritual advisor Jeremiah Wright, that this nation is responsible for what happened on 9/11.

He can't battle with McCain over the patriotism issue because he has no weapons. He might as well go all the other way and pick up those who consider McCain to be a knuckle-dragging, war-loving, military-oriented Yahoo.

I don't think that will help. Although I believe that Obama will win the nomination, I also believe that, if he does, he will be destroyed by the Republican candidate, John McCain, in the general election.

I don't think tht Obama is electable in 2008.

Even though to run a candidate who can't win is a traditional Democratic forte, this is not the time for the party to do that one more time.

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