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It was my fervent hope that my next column would be issue-oriented, inspired by a few days of relevant dialogue on the campaign trails. You know, stuff we over fortyish women kind of fret about like household budgets and the costs of the kids or grandkids going, or hoping to go, back to college. Not to be! The campaigns seem to think we women are more intellectually titillated by being informed on the eating habits of Barack Obama. I can't speak for you, but I really don't give a rip if Mr. Obama eats a protein nut bar or a banana prior to his workout at the gym. I want to know why my own breakfast banana is now $.79 cents a pound. I sacrificed the nut bar a couple of months ago!  

But, hope dies hard and after viewing Mr. McCain's revelation that Mr. Obama is about to part the sea much in the style of Moses, I have an idea. Perhaps instead of drilling for oil, which by the time it starts to flow to the delivery trucks my bananas will be up to $11.47 a pound, we could ask him to part the waters over a few voluminous oil deposits. Then, being the multi-tasker that he is, Obama could save a few polar bears and a couple of ice packs at the same time. That being, of course, if his powers aren't stripped as retribution for lusting after loose, blonde white women. In which event, he could implement Plan X and drill in the 68% of already-leased, environmentally-certified sites being cleverly stashed by the speculators.

Yesterday was an exciting day in Florida, though. Both the hopefuls were on the stump here and the local news crews were atwitter at the prospect of mingling with the celebrities. No not that kind, the media celebrities who follow the campaigns in hopes of capturing the next major gaffe or the next monumental flip or flop and being first in line to get the golden ratings ring by being first to get the 'breaking news' banner across the bottom of their cable news screens. Being first is paramount! Accuracy can follow on Sunday's news magazine shows on the networks if absolutely necessary. Never mind that the news, by then, has already implanted in the nation's brains. Or paranoias, whichever applies.

The air fairly crackled with excitement in St. Pete where Obama was speaking at a local high school gym. Judging by the crowds, he could have easily filled the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' stadium, but they can't seem to keep that man out of a gym! If physical fitness should really be a job prerequisite for the Commander in Chief, Obama should win hands down! Or is that up?  

It seems, however, this venue was chosen to allow the audience a Q & A session after the infamous speech. Yet lo, the best laid plans of mice and even Moses do go astray. Since Mr. Obama doesn't screen his crowds . . . er . . . excuse me, audiences for select questions, he was soon accosted by the always dreaded heckler. The man, a black fellow sporting a banner, was interrupting the Senator's speech and the audience commenced booing. Before security could remove the man, Mr. Obama took control, quieted the crowd, and told the guy if he'd wait his turn he'd be allowed to speak. The heckler, albeit somewhat grudgingly, did comply. The crowd of mostly older white folks, it is Florida remember, settled down and the event went on.  

When the heckler was given the floor as promised, he interrogated Obama on his actions, or lack of actions, on behalf of black communities nationwide citing inner-city conditions, Katrina, jobs, education and a host of other disgruntlements. Obama dealt with and answered the questions and concluded by telling the young man he had a choice. He could check the facts and if wasn't satisfied he still had the option of voting for another candidate; all this to the obvious admiration of the audience and the news teams. The local ones, for sure. The event ended without further incident. Following, a local anchor commented that if people doubted Obama's leadership and his ability to deal with an explosive situation, a little light had been shone.

Meanwhile in Orlando, Mr. McCain told his audience that his opponent would be following him to their fair city the next day and then gave a dissertation on the things Obama would say and warned them not to believe him. That he, McCain, would tell them the truth. There were no hecklers in his rather sedate audience. But in all fairness, I did not see the 'live' broadcast of that event. I later viewed the tape which could have been edited by that point.  

Later last evening, I was really curious to see if the national stations would show the full tape of Obama's heckler incident or just the snippets of the heckler and a riled crowd followed by a verbal report of the conclusion. I'm not sure what you saw where you lived, but the cable stations I watched showed an edited version. I was rather taken aback, but also enlightened, by the amazingly different nuances when viewing the 'whole' picture and the out of context sound-bytes and snippets of verbiage we usually are exposed to. This has cautioned me even moreso as to the importance of further researching the candidates’ claims and policies on crucial issues.

As for Moses and the blondes, I find it particularly condescending to the electorate that these political campaigns actually seem to believe that we deserve no better than negative ads and sensationalism, and their always plotting the next opportunity to disparage the opposition and take focus from the topics of concern. Of course, if I had no feasible, long-term solutions to problems, or even an apparent understanding of what the problems truly are, maybe I'd want the focus off the topic, too. Since, I'm not running for office though, I'd challenge the targets of this type of ad, regardless who it be, to refuse to acknowledge or even dispute this negative idiocy and instead offer me their solutions to the price of my breakfast bananas.  

What's more disturbing to me is that this ridiculous innuendo seems to work! What does that say for the populace? I tend to wonder why people everywhere, every news person in front of a camera, every reporter and moderator securing an interview are not expressing outrage. Instead, I hear people commenting on them as if gospel, or being swayed at the intimations. It really is a politics implementing fear and smut and the average citizens seem to be willing victims.  

When we read of these campaigns costing millions of dollars, in itself, inviting the donations and support that require returning favors, let's remember that a good chunk of those funds go to fostering this type of ad and their air time. Maybe if Moses uncovers huge stores of sunken treasure when he parts the sea, he'll set it aside and fund campaign reform?

Keep looking for the rainbows!

Susan Haley, Author


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