Presidential candidates can expect to command ample influence over their supporters but there are limits. For instance, I gave $5 to the American Red Cross in the aftermath of hurricane Gustav after receiving a text message urging me to do so from the Democratic presidential nominee. However, there are certain elements to this election that make John McCain's defeat personal to millions of Americans and, therefore, impossible for Senator Barack Obama to control absolutely, be it via text message or admonishment.
Obama has admonished his supporters and the news media to adhere to a code of ethics that doesn't apply to the right wing.
"Let me be as clear as possible," Obama said. "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. [Sarah] Palin's performance as governor or her potential performance as a vice president."
The idea is nice but, if applied broadly, forces its adherents to be bound by double standards--right wingers can attack left winger lifestyles and values but the left wing must take it on the chin.
It also stymies educational opportunities to highlight Republican religious hypocrisy because doing so necessarily involves mentioning the pregnancy of Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter and Senator John McCain's divorce.
We live in a world where the right wing--people like Ben Nelson--uses personal attacks involving racism, homophobia and fear to injure the families of average Americans, who never chose to ascend the marble staircase of fame and fortune. The right wing attack machine and GOP candidate boosters are bigger than the politicians that represent its ideals. They include conservative cable and radio talk show hosts, Evangelical pastors, and right wing student organizations.
It is unreasonable for Sen. Obama to expect the victims of the right wing attack machine--average Americans who never invited the fight onto their doorsteps--to cower defenselessly when confronting ideological annihilation.
"The poor wren, the most diminutive of birds will fight, her young ones in the nest, against the owl." -Shakespeare, MacBeth
In 2002 we watched a frat-pack of draft-dodgers compare triple amputee and honorably decorated Vietnam veteran, Max Cleland, to Osama Bin Laden. In 2004 we watched them trash Senator John Kerry's honorable service in Vietnam. In 2006 we watched them pray on America's basest biases to defeat former Representative Harold Ford Jr.'s bid for the US Senate in Tennessee.
In the process they attacked us. They sneeringly referred to everyone from Ohio to Maine and on down as "Northeast liberal elites" because we didn't buy into the Republican agenda. The attacked "West-coasters" too. They attempted to put the government in charge of the medical fate of Terri Schiavo, a fight emblematic of bigger Republican schemes involving government intrusion into American living rooms. They condemned gays and inveighed against couples who chose abortion, using the government to bring a nasty fight into the lives of people trying to mind their own business.
So, Senator Obama, now its 2008 and Governor Sarah Palin is energizing Evangelical Christians across the country:
“Thursday morning our phones started ringing about how do we get involved, where are the phone banks, where is the literature to distribute,” said Mike Gonidakis, executive director of Ohio Right to Life, explaining that many people had been motivated by Ms. Palin’s convention speech on Wednesday night.
Palin is selling herself as a pro-life candidate from a church that advocates "praying away the gays." The self-advertised pro-life Christian candidate has, therefore, legitimized the text of the Bible as a benchmark for gauging her fitness for the office of Vice President. After all, contained in that Book are all the standards she seeks to hold us to.
For the first time in the last 30 years, Democrats are turning to the Bible to do just that. The verdict is damning.
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor catamites, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Corinthians 6:9)