Politics Isn’t Just a Game

Playing politics isn’t much of a game. It’s a deceptive ploy foisted on the American people. With so many issues that impact the body politic, most media sources begin and end these days with clips of Reverend Wright and endless discussions about how his remarks redound to the fortunes of Barack Obama.

Unless one makes a point of seeking out reliable television and internet sources that focus in depth on the economy, the war, voting rights, energy, job creation and whatever else concerns voters at the deepest and most urgent level, the chosen topics of the day revert to what media moguls deem the ‘sexiest’ attention grabbers.

How much time, for example, has been allotted to discussing the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Indiana’s law requiring photo IDs for voters, right before primary and presidential elections?  It isn’t that being able to properly identify voters is a bad idea, but rather that it may be used to suppress the votes of certain people – – older, low-income folks and people of color who do not drive, cannot afford or do not have easy access to a source for the production of such documentation – – read Democrats in many cases.

The case of widespread voter fraud has never been made, but since the law has been upheld surely all states should provide their needy populations with a means of establishing the required proof at little or no cost, and the Democratic Party should be prepared to step in and fund the process should states fail to do so, pending a later appeal based on proof of undue hardship for certain voters. Otherwise some voters stand to be disenfranchised the same way black voters were in the past for failing to pay poll taxes.

And has anyone noticed that Hillary Clinton has boarded the McCain bus with a suggestion to suspend the gasoline tax for the summer in a blatant attempt to capture votes in Indiana and North Carolina? In her case, she proposes to pay for the enormous loss of revenue this would cause by instituting a windfall profits tax on oil companies – – a proposal she must know has about as much chance of making it through Congress and the White House as the proverbial snowball in hell. To his credit Barack Obama has said this is a bad idea, providing only minimal relief and diminishing resources for highway and bridge maintenance that are funded by the gasoline tax.

Surprisingly, on Tuesday’s “Washington Journal” callers of all political persuasions, almost unanimously, rejected the gas-tax-furlough notion as a phony stop-gap measure that would do little to relieve consumers’ pain and produce incredible sticker shock in the end. And, as one caller pointed out, the largest consumer of energy is our military so the average citizen is competing in a profit-driven industry with soldiers in the field. Thus whether one supports the war or not, it is folly to ignore its impact on the country’s financial well being and our insatiable demand for oil products.

Into the mix of under-reported news add the disturbing “chatter” about the possibility the current administration is cooking up a pretext for attacking Iran. Although it seems unlikely, indeed so foolhardy as to be totally unbelievable on any level, the shifting military assignments in the Middle East – – Patraeus newly in charge of both Iraq and Afghanistan, the departure of Admiral Fallon – – and increasingly strident public comments about Iraq’s neighbor are a sinister reminder that our leaders haven’t proven to be people of restraint or diplomatic temperament.

Finally, despite having said the Reverend Wright business is overdone and intrusive, the subject needs to be addressed since Obama’s opponents and the media just can’t get enough of it. The Reverend unfortunately has allowed his ego, perhaps expanded over time, to conflate his personal image with the church he led for so many years. He also served in the military and undertook many admirable community projects, but it doesn’t help his congregation or his image to continue in-your-face rhetoric diametrically opposed to what Obama is trying to achieve and for which he is suffering in what he calls “guilt by association.”

In the end while the Reverend was a source of comfort and inspiration in Obama’s earlier Chicago days it should be clear they are on different paths now. Reverend Wright is on a book tour and Obama is running for president of a country he unquestionably holds dear and wishes to serve and for whom race is just part of who he is.