Editorial of the Week: “The Political Wars Are In Operation”
Polls show Senator Barack Obama’s lead over Senator John McCain is growing which is an absolute guarantee, dirty tactics will grow in political intensity. Rumors of Barack Obama being a Muslim continue circulating, and the latest twist is, even if he is not a Muslim, he is part of Marxist radical Christian theology. The boys of summer will soon be replaced by the dogs of Fall wars in which anything and everything that can be summoned up on the part of either side, will be circulating on the Internet or in the media.
In all honesty, political smear tactics are an old standby in American politics. Al Smith was the first Catholic to run for the presidency and he was subject to continual attacks about his alleged connections to the Pope. On the night of his defeat, the ever humorous governor of New York told reporters: “I just sent a telegram to the Pope saying he could unpack his bags.” Franklin Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, was accused of being a lesbian, having love affairs with Negro men, and being a secret communist.
W can expect to hear all about Senator McCain’s connection to the famous Keating bank scandal of the 1980s, his wife will be accused of failing to pay taxes, and there will be cynical remarks about how come he allowed himself to get shot down. Smear tactics are simply the American way of engaging in political warfare. Perhaps, the difference in 2008 is the presence of MySpace and Facebook, which now allow a single nut case to spread his/her smears across the entire nation within a few moments.
Senator McCain did offer an interesting proposal in suggesting a series of town hall meetings with Senator Obama which would allow the nation to observe an intelligent discussion between the candidates. Obama turned it down for the reason he saw no reason to offer his opponent an opportunity to get free air time. It is unfortunate Senator Obama did not engage in this form of political discussion since it would have moved the campaign away from smear tactics to political discussions.
President Robert Mugabe is tightening the screws on any form of dissident opinion by arresting and detaining the opposition candidate for president as well as his supporters. Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was again arrested and only released due to a personal plea from President Mbeki of South Africa. Eric Matinenga, lawyer for Tsvangirai and a prominent MDC leader, was again arrested for inciting violence only to be released and then arrested again. All week police have been closing off areas where the MDC was trying to hold rallies. In Magabeland, the police said, “people are free to campaign as they choose,” but Tsvangirai has broken the law by not securing permission to speak.
After weeks of police violence against the MDC, at least 60 of its members are dead and thousands have been displaced from their homes. International agencies which have been feeding poor people are now forbidden to operate leaving thousands without food.
The height of hypocrisy was stated by Mugabe’s chief election agent, Emmerson Mnangagwa who claimed if Mugabe lost both he and his boss would turn over power because “we brought democracy to Zimbabwe and we should defend it.” Mugabe has an interesting way of defending democracy by arresting the opposing candidate and not allowing him to speak!