Under the Sun
Refusing to be victims of a bitter campaign
John McCain is in deep trouble now. God knows how his campaign will recover from the latest scandal on the twaddle-sphere.
It seems McCain's wife, Cindy, is a plagiarist. She posted on her hubby's Web site recipes she claimed to be her family's, but -- horror of horrors -- they apparently were lifted from some of the Food Network's TV cookies, including Rachel Ray, the queen of chirp, and Giada DeLaurentiis, the goddess of constant cleavage.
That the incident in the momentary spotlight involves a core duty of turbo-conservative womanhood makes her transgression even more shameful.
This has the anonymous no-lifers pounding their keyboards into dust, hyper- ventilating on flog-blogs and forums about how the beer heiress probably never cooked a meal in her life, how her thievery reflects her husband's character, how posting recipes shows McCain's ideal of women as barefoot and in the kitchen, and, my favorite, how the imbroglio is a conspiracy instigated by the campaign of Barack Obama.
None of this foolery will affect McCain's campaign. Though there's no accounting for nitwittery these days, most people recognize what's meaningful and what isn't when examining presidential candidates.
Still, the intense sniping that erupts even when one or the other says something intelligent or makes a keen observation with understanding and sympathy is discouraging to the same degree that "misspeaks" are let to slide.
Chattering masses are going on and on about Obama's remarks that people who have lost their jobs in a global economy, who feel left behind and powerless have become bitter. Some turn to their religion for spiritual comfort and reassurance, he said. Others grab on to issues like gun rights that have been their long-standing, iconic collective custom and some find a target for their misfortune in immigrants.
While generalizations, there is truth spoken here, but bare-knuckle politics is nothing if not exploitive of words removed from the original message. Rivals bend low to manipulate them, talking heads and pundits hijack the sense of them and slap on their own -- elitist, condescending, demeaning -- words that more closely resemble their perspectives and behavior.
They might also add insulting, not of Obama, but of voters who aren't as easily kneaded or herded as before, who have learned the hard realities of what gloss and false representations can deliver.
They may be bitter and frustrated and angry, but they aren't victims. Not all of them. Not all accept the idea that the beliefs of a close friend or adviser are necessarily shared beliefs. Should a son choose to drink and a live a feckless life doesn't mean his father approves, nor should a husband get tagged as phony because his spouse copped a dessert chef's formula for the perfect lilikoi mousse.
What many will recognize, however, is the peculiarity of obsession, the desire to win at any cost, even to the point of inventing a scenario certain to be uncovered as false. Caught out, Hillary Clinton used an appearance on a late-night show to make light of the fictional unfriendly fire she said she encountered during a visit to Bosnia. She did this to sweeten her experience credentials and sour voters on Obama, but left a bitter aftertaste instead.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org