- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 4, 2008



Well, well, dear readers. Here we are.

The Fat Lady is at last in dress rehearsal. The two Joes are singing The Last Hurrah. The two non-shrinking violets have delivered their family values messages. The couple McCain is taking stock, and the Great Orator, carpetbag in tow, is on the road again.

The right is as energized as the left, and Roy G Biv (that’s the colors of the rainbow for those who weren’t paying attention in third grade) is overshadowing the red state-blue state theories.

We know voters are uncomfortable with the possibility that a biracial American might occupy the Oval Office. Barack Obama does not look like any other American-born and reared president. Face it: We are not ready to paint the White House black.

We know, too, that some Americans are uncomfortable with the possibility that the next vice president wears lipstick. Indeed, this time last year and many months forward Republicans and evangelicals alike were gearing up for a battle with Hillary Clinton, egging the Democratic presidential wanna-bes to go toe-to-toe with Hillary and take her down. They also made Mr. Obama’s lack of experience the central talking point.

My, my, my. What a difference a vice presidential nomination makes. Republicans and conservatives are now crying foul. Women, ironically, are the standouts in this chorus — as if it weren’t men who granted us the right to vote. “Leave the children out of it,” they say. “What’s being a woman got to do with it?” they ask. “How dare social commentators even raise the issue of teen pregnancy.” Forget about the fact that neither the mantra from left — wear a condom for goodness sake — nor the moral message from the right — abstinence is the only surefire birth control — are sufficiently penetrating teens’ impetuousness. “At least she chose life,” they say. And, Lord knows that’s a good thing; but it’s still after the fact.

Now they’ve found Hillary’s mirror opposite in Sarah. Now they want to changes the rules. That’s foul indeed.

It will be a while before America sees anyone’s true primary colors again. Joe Lieberman did say, after all, that John McCain looks better in blue than he does in red.

And know what? Republicans should no more be permitted to demand that Democrats give the kid-gloves treatement to Sarah Palin and any other Palin than Democrats should be permitted to demand that kids themselves are not in the political arena. Children are part and parcel of politics. That’s why candidates trot their relatives into the round and give them high perches from which to look down at the masses.

All’s fair in love, sports and politics.

Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin give as good as they get. That’s what real women do — day in, day out.

When every American male who was healthy enough took up the pledge to fight for hearth, home and the American way during World War II, there were no shrinking violets. Women across this country employed any means necessary to not only support the war and keep America afloat, but they also still managed to raise families and manage the homestead without benefit of father, husband or brother. Women kicked off their heels, unhitched the nylons and took care of business. There’s a reason Rosie the Riveter remains an unvarnished reflection.

So, when social commentators and pundits called Mrs. Obama an angry black woman, she introduced herself to America, presented a wholesome family portrait and proved otherwise. Ditto Mrs. Palin. When they resurrected her nickname, “barracuda,” Mrs. Palin took the stage and revealed the fact that the mirror has two faces.

Yet America remains as divided as it was prior to the conventions. Sure, the faces are familiar, we’re slowly learning the names of all the candidates’ children and we have a general idea where the individual candidates on key issues. But what will we see and hear during the general-election campaign, which begins in earnest next week?

Will America see the scrappy Scranton side of Joe Biden? Or will he fold like he did during the primaries?

What about Mr. Obama? Will he continue to deploy the lessons of Saul Alinsky? Or will he, too, come to think the terms “grass-roots” and “community organizing” are four-letter words? (Republicans, by the way, need to re-value their grass-roots efforts.)

Ah, and the couple McCain. They have been down this road before. Will John borrow Joe Lieberman’s tattered copy of “Zen and the Art of Presidential Politics?” Or did Cindy leaves John’s copy at the other house? The Republican warrior’s brethren were initially either cold or luke warm to his candidacy. Now they’re white hot about it — and that, as Joe Lieberman knows well, is a blessing that cuts two ways.

Deborah Simmons is editorial page editor of The Washington Times.

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