Editorial: Lies and misconceptions still a part of election game

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

What is it about presidential politics that brings out the worst in some people?

With the primary season picking up steam — Super Duper Tuesday is just around the corner — Sen. Barack Obama finds himself in the same position as Sen. John McCain did eight years ago: in South Carolina debunking falsehoods and fighting idiocy. Now, we should note the smear campaign against Obama isn't known to have started in South Carolina, the way it did against McCain in 2000.

It's just a shame that presidential hopefuls should have to waste their time countering blatant lies when they have enough to do to correct misrepresentations of their voting records and other machinations of the spin doctors.

Opening his campaign in the Bible Belt this weekend, Obama was obliged to set the record straight about his religious background. You see, some nutcake out there sprinkled a few tidbits of truth into an e-mail that suggests he is hiding his Islamic roots and may be a terrorist in disguise. Puh-lease!

Obama's campaign has been fighting such drivel from the beginning, but as it heads into the Bible Belt, the effort has been increased. After all, it was here that McCain suffered a similar indignity.

Playing on the moral convictions of a region where religion is of high importance to many voters, anonymous opponents of McCain's used a technique called 'push polling' in which pollsters, once they had discerned that a voter was a McCain supporter, asked if the voter would be more or less likely to support McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black. Such a question was sure to raise eyebrows and doubts in the South.

McCain, of course, had done nothing of the sort. He and his wife, Cindy, have an adopted daughter of dark complexion whom they brought to the United States from an orphanage in Bangladesh.

Now some fear-mongers have spread untruths about Obama, playing into the prejudices against Muslims and fears of terrorists. Because our terrorist enemies happen to be Muslim does not make all Muslims terrorists.

And what if Obama were a Muslim — he is not — should he be any less worthy of the presidency than a Christian, a Jew, a Mormon, an agnostic or an atheist? The moral code inherent in most religions and many non-religious belief systems and philosophies renders the importance of a candidate's specific religious affiliation meaningless in the process of selecting a president.

Presidential candidates should be spending their time outlining their plans for running the country and extolling their virtues, not debunking lies and half-truths.

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