11 sep 08 Media and US elections analysis

 

By Daniel Politi, Slate Magazine

The presidential candidates are calling a truce today and will stop running ads while they join together in New York to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But looking at the policy proposals of how each candidate would tackle the war on terrorism and prevent another attack on the homeland, it looks like they could come together every day. The candidates would vociferously disagree as they spend much time on the stump criticizing each other’s policies. But the truth is that, in what the LAT calls an “unexpected development,” John McCain and Barack Obama “seem to be moving toward consensus on their broad-brush strategies.” There’s clearly a difference in personality and approach, but in general terms they’re both speaking the same language. But how about the details? Well, neither one of the candidates is really talking about those pesky details at the moment. “There is not a big incentive to articulate the details,” one Obama adviser said. “These are complex questions that don’t lend themselves to short answers during presidential debates.”

 

On the NYT‘s op-ed page, two pieces pick up on this theme and say that it’s about time the candidates start to seriously address these issues. In one piece, Philip Bobbitt and John Danforth say that “with respect to national security, neither campaign has articulated the fundamental points of view that will allow people to make an informed choice in November.” This is an unacceptable development, and the two authors pose 12 questions for each candidate with the “hope that these answers will be published on this page.” In the other piece, Clark Kent Ervin also poses some questions for the candidates, noting that they have been pretty much silent on homeland security. That’s a problem because “another major attack is likely to be attempted sooner rather than later,” and, if history is any guide, it could come soon after the next president moves into the White House. “The government’s approach to homeland security needs to be changed drastically if we are to close the gap between how secure we need to be and how secure we really are.”

And while some are worried about national security, over in the WSJ, the editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer is eager to welcome voters “to the greatest tabloid presidential election in modern times.” Who’s to blame? Why, John Edwards, of course. After ignoring the rumors of an Edwards affair for so long, the media were eager to pounce when some started whispering that Sarah Palin was not actually the mother of her youngest child. As much as it likes to think that it is above tabloid fodder, “when a Republican VP nominee showed up with a pregnant teenage daughter, the mainstream media’s superego disappeared faster than Dan Quayle at a spelling bee.”

 

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