When did personal characteristics become a crutch for campaigns to lean on when they don't want to answer questions?
In the past several weeks, we've seen how utterly shameless candidates can be when they don't have a good answer for legitimate questions. But if you have a problem with that, you must have contracted the sexism fever, or the racism fever, or the elitism fever or the anti-POWism fever.
And the apparent cure for that fever is to blame the media.
Barack Obama continues to fight criticism from conservatives that he is too inexperienced to be president, but when John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate, these same doubts about inexperience are dismissed by her supporters as blatant sexism. This begs the question of whether supporters of the McCain-Palin ticket would allow Obama to play the race card to fight his critics as easily as they've played the sexism card to fight hers.
In another vein, does it matter how many houses each candidate owns? Maybe, if you believe that it correlates to how "in touch" with the American people each candidate is and how that might reflect their economic philosophies. But McCain's ownership of seven houses shouldn't matter because he spentfive and a halfyears as a Vietnam POW, without so much as a table. Would John Kerry, also a Vietnam veteran and husband of a rich heiress, have gotten away with using his Vietnam service as a shield against a simple biographical question?
The truth is that Obama and McCain are both worth millions and are both sitting U.S. senators. Which definition of "elitism" doesn't apply to both of them? What "average Americans" are either of the two in touch with?
But heaven forbid the media go after these inconsistencies, lest they have their questions labeled as sexist, elitist, racist, communist or even terrorist. The campaigns have figured out that they can eat up the 24-hour news cycle by making the press wring its hands about whether their pursuit of the truth is offensive.
Echoing the words of Daily Illini alumnus and Politico columnist Roger Simon, we, the media, are sorry.
It's easy to hate the media, just as it's easy to yell at the referees for making bad calls -- not that bad calls don't happen in games or that the media can't do a lot better in covering politics. But for the most part, teams that play against the refs don't have a better strategy, and when they do, many are thought of as whiners.
No matter where you lean politically, we can all agree that we want leaders, not whiners, to win the White House.