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Write of Passage

Maureen Connors Badding arrived in Wauwatosa 22 years ago via Buffalo and Phoenix. She's a freelance writer and habitual volunteer who enjoys book clubs, travel, entertaining and cheering for her daughter's swim team.

Blog Action Day: Poverty of Character

Blog Action Day, Electiion, McCain, Obama

In honor of Blog Action Day, I'm taking break from my usual topics of ranting about the leaf pickup and plugging organizations that are working to improve the quality of life in Tosa. That's because on October 15, bloggers from coast to coast are being asked to write about poverty.

I'm sure there will be lots of blogs about our roller coaster economy and its effect on the poor, or worldwide poverty brought about by political strife. I'm going to take a slightly different angle by writing about what I feel is a poverty of character.

Having been a child during the Watergate scandal, I have grown up with very low expectations for politicians. I assume that they will exaggerate and twist the truth. Most of my votes for the past seven presidential elections have been for “the lesser of two evils.”

This year, I had higher hopes. I had the impression that both candidates were men of honesty and integrity. The closer we get to the election, however, the more I'm afraid we're seeing the real John McCain.

Poverty of character comes to mind every time I see a TV spot that's filled with gross misrepresentations of the truth and ends with “I'm John McCain, and I approved this message.” Obama doesn't “pal around with terrorists” any more than he wants kindergartners to get explicit sex education.

Remember how Cindy McCain gave the emotional speech about Obama voting against funding for the troops (including her son) in Iraq? She failed to mention that her own husband voted against funding the troops when a previous bill reached the Senate.

Poverty of character comes to mind when I think about McCain's erratic and rash decision making, not the least of which is his choice for vice president. If he hadn't been intoxicated by the fact that Sarah Palin was a pro-life woman who could bring the fundamentalists and a few women back into the fold, he might have realized she did not possess the skill set for the vice presidency. Her responses (or lack of responses) to Katie Couric's questions about the Supreme Court and even her preferred news sources were chilling.

The pro-Palin contingent is quick to point out that Governor Palin has more executive experience than either of the candidates. President Bush and Vice President Cheney had loads of executive experience before they took office, and look how well that worked out for us. Character trumps executive experience in my book.

Isn't it a poverty of character to change your fundamental beliefs about issues when it becomes convenient for your campaign? McCain has spoken out against his own bill on immigration reform, voted against a ban on questionable interrogation techniques (weren't they considered torture when he was a POW in Vietnam?) and flip-flopped on offshore drilling, which even the Department of Energy admits would have a minimal long-term effect on gas prices.

I'm not going to pretend that Barack Obama is the messiah sent to save our country, but I still believe he's a person of exceptional intelligence and integrity. For the most part during his campaign, he has taken the high road. He is capable of bringing respect back to the office of the president - both from Americans and the international community.

This year, for the first time, my choice doesn't have to be the lesser of two evils.

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