Unacceptable Truth


Here’s another example of how silly our presidential campaigns have become: Charlie Black, an aide to the John McCain campaign, said in an interview that another terrorist attack inside the U.S. would likely benefit McCain.

My heavens to Betsy, you’d think somebody had stripped McCain’s mother naked and thrown her out into the street. The Barack Obama campaign writhed with indignation, and pretty soon the press and eventually McCain were decrying, regretting and renouncing Black’s statement.

Why? It’s the truth. Very likely such an attack would favor McCain, since he’s painted his opponent as weak on terrorism. Black wasn’t inviting an attack. He just told the truth. He stated a fact. Anybody with common sense knows it.

Osama bin Laden would hit us today if he could, and he certainly won’t pay the least bit of attention to what American politicians have to say. Nor will he consult any of them as to the timing. He enjoys killing Americans. He will eventually find a way to kill some of us unless we kill him first.

It’s too bad President George Bush is better at mangling the English language than he is at finding terrorists. You would think the "world’s last remaining superpower" could track down one old geezer living in a cave or a mud hut somewhere around the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

I would bet money that if bin Laden had struck Moscow instead of New York, he would have been long dead by now. Some years ago in Lebanon, a Russian was kidnapped, but he was quickly released after the kidnapper’s relatives started showing up in pieces.

What the hoopla over an innocent statement by Black tells you is how lacking in substance both campaigns are. Their policy positions are as thin as a Victoria’s Secret nightgown. Neither one of them really knows how to solve the energy problem or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor do they know how to get us out of Iraq. Both are going to find that lobbyists are like the tar baby — hard to get away from. Both have married women who are not your typical American housewives. Both are facing the dismal prospect of trying to cut spending and keep their promises of booty at the same time.

That’s why they react to any trivial matter. They want to distract the public from the scarcity of substance.

Leave it to our broken political system to give us a choice between a young senator who has led a relatively sheltered life and a crotchety, old, retired Navy officer who believes we can bomb and shoot our way out of any problem. It looks like the infamous 2-cent future is on the horizon. (I once asked the former head of the Strategic Air Command what he thought of the future, and he said, "I wouldn’t give you 2 cents for it.")

What should concern us most is the growing trend to stamp "unacceptable" on the truth whenever it deviates from conventional wisdom, plain vanilla political rhetoric or political correctness. Politics and manners should not be used to determine the truth.

What should be unacceptable is Americans getting in trouble for telling the truth. I don’t see how we can ever solve problems if we decide some truths can be thought but not spoken.

Charlie Black was dead-on right when he said a terrorist attack would help McCain. He knows it, I know it, you know it and McCain knows it. His Straight Talk Express must have been derailed, or he would have defended Black.

At the rate these two candidates are going, I may just save some of my $4 gas and not bother to vote.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.

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