10.01.2008 0

Senators McCain and Obama Appear on the Dating Game

  • On: 10/21/2008 21:28:17
  • In: Barack Obama

  • Regular television viewers are probably familiar with a popular series from the 1960’s and ‘70’s called the Dating Game, where a bachelorette would appear asking questions of three potential bachelors. At the end, based on the answers, she would make a clear choice for the one which would get to take her on a date.

    It’s a lot like presidential politics. The candidates are essentially making a pitch for a date, albeit a four-year long date: “Vote for me, and I’ll give you the world.” They promise everything under the sun. Some voters choose based on who promised the most. Others choose based on if the promises can actually be delivered upon.

    Enter the 2008 presidential candidates—Senators McCain and Obama—who this past Saturday each separately appeared at Saddleback Church with Pastor Rick Warren, where they each answered the same exact questions. The potential bachelorette is played by the American electorate.

    That forum is now being spun as a contrast between Mr. McCain’s clarity and Mr. Obama’s nuance.

    And we’ve heard this before: the Democrat candidate—in this case, Mr. Obama—is thoughtful, offers nuance, and is intelligent. The Republican candidate, Mr. McCain, shoots from the hip, sees the world in black and white terms, and is impulsive. It’s a theme the mainstream media treats us to almost every presidential campaign, and it is one that citizens are familiar with.

    However, unlike the Dating Game, neither candidate was privy to the answers their opponent would give in advance.

    Or, at least, that’s the format that Mr. Warren insists was used. Apparently, Mr. Obama did more poorly than expected, while Mr. McCain did much better than expected, to the extent that the Illinois senator’s campaign is suggesting that Mr. McCain cheated and somehow overheard Mr. Obama’s answers. According to Mr. Warren, “That’s total bogus. We had him in a green room in a totally different building. The Secret service picked him up, brought him straight to that room. He was put in that building.”

    So, to cover for Mr. Obama’s lackluster performance, Americans are being told that his vagueness and flip-flops are actually assets in disguise: He represents all Americans’ views. He is thoughtful. He is open-minded.

    To be fair, Mr. McCain has never been the testament to clarity and consistency on the issues. He voted against the Bush tax cuts, but insists that he’s never voted for a tax increase. He’s previously been opposed to off-shore drilling, and has made an election-year conversion on the issue. He says he wants to increase energy production, and yet somehow maintains his support for capping carbon emissions.

    As the campaign has progressed, however, Mr. McCain is seeing the political advantage of contrasting his opponent’s ambiguity with a consistent, conservative message. Many of Mr. McCain’s election year changes have been in a conservative direction. In contrast, Mr. Obama seems to be in a constant struggle to moderate his previous statement on any given issue.

    In the end, much like their Dating Game counterparts, the candidates are certainly learning the hard way that offering a clear message is the only way to communicate effectively to the American people—if, of course, that is what either actually wants to do.


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