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"Breaking News" announcements trailing endlessly along the bottom of TV screens on the Cable News networks have become a fixed entity. I'm wondering if this service is for those joining the program in progress or because the news is breaking almost hourly? It wreaks havoc on the nerves of one attempting to write a current political dissertation. The next 'trailer' could render this column obsolete by sunrise!  

Who will be next to spew the latest gaffe? What gem of discovery has been unearthed in the musty backroom stacks of a library or the microfilm vault at The Chicago Tribune? Or is the culprit a cell phone replete with camera and instant ‘net’ access hidden in every pocket? The almost split-second speed with which news traverses the globe via the Internet? An online edition of every publication on the Planet, billions of chat forums and opinion blogs, UTube videos, and Face Book profiles provide endless revelations ranging from the voting records of the candidates' second cousins twice removed to dietary preferences.  

This week, we've learned that Hillary has an obsession for hot and spicy and Barack has a penchant for cheddar cheese and trail mix. McCain's favorite snack food, however, took a back seat to the need for ample slathering of sunscreen upon exiting the shower. One may wonder which cross-section of the electorate is going to feel slighted by this information. Do we care? Me, I'm still wondering how they plan on fixing the crumbling economy, taking notice of our Planet's peril, and ending the threat of nuclear war!

What troubles me more about the nature of recent political campaigns is the seeming trend to disarm, disable, and destroy one's opponents with continual attacks on integrity, unethical supposition, sheer slander, and worse, subtle but unspeakable prophesy. It seems it's no longer a side affect of those rabid 527's but the daily norm of some of the key players. And, we haven't even reached the general election campaign yet!

Don't we, the majority of voters attempting to make an intelligent decision, deserve better from those vying to represent us? Does it serve anyone if a candidate has to spend most of their time fending off and explaining attacks, often unwarranted attacks? Wouldn't it be better to get a good night's sleep now and then instead of standing in front of a crowd and making foolish sleep-deprived comments that then have to be defended, denied, and explained for a week, or two? Is venom and vitriol a suitable replacement for calm and intellectual debate of the issues? Is a day off and a nap a sign of weakness or good common sense?

  

We as parents attempt to teach our children the principles of achievement. We teach that it's not a sign of good character to elevate one's self by knocking another down. We encourage that respect has to be earned. It's not a given. We teach our children that playground rules are in place for a reason. We don't attack someone's integrity because they may have a different idea or a question about our own. And, we surely teach them that equality or individualism is not threatened by diversity but enhanced by it. We don't operate that way in our places of business and expect to get very far. Should we expect less from those wanting to lead our nation?

If a candidate, any candidate, cannot answer a policy question without attacking the integrity of the person asking it, how in the world is that candidate going to deal with heads of foreign governments? If a candidate can't expound on a plan without being misquoted, taken out of context, and instantly derided, how is that person, as president, going to make progress in the moving of this country forward by interacting with the legislative policy makers? Don't we owe a chance for explanation after demanding full disclosure? If they can't speak with those that oppose them, or give credit when it is due to their opponents, how are they going to move toward ending divisiveness and dissent? Surely, it's possible to attack an idea without attacking the thinker! If there is fervor and merit in one's ideas, they should be able to stand up to a fair investigation. If it's found there is possible errant direction in an idea, one desiring to lead ALL of the populace should be willing to entertain varying ideas.

Yes, I do think there are lines that should not be crossed in a political campaign. And I submit that they should not be invisible, but drawn in the sand for all to see. I think they should be determined by honesty and principle; they should be drawn by rules of law and integrity; a basic following of the tenets put forth in the Golden Rule. You know, those same codes of behavior we teach our children! Any candidate or campaign that cannot play by these rules of the game should be retired to the bench. How a candidate 'runs' a campaign is a pretty clear indicator of how that same candidate will 'run' a nation.

Susan Haley



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