Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Lowering the Bar

This blog picks on Al Gore almost mercilessly. His sincerity has been questioned, his politics derided, his lifestyle criticized, and his statements ridiculed. But, not having actually researched it, I can say with a high degree of confidence that it has never been suggested he is unfit to lead because of his son's addiction issues.

Reporter Ron Keller is heaping praise on Katherine Prudhomme-O'Brien today, for asking this question of Rudy Guiliani:

"I asked him how he'd expect the American people to give him loyal fellowship if he was having a hard time getting it from his own family."

Far from a good question, it is a silly one. Do we assume that grown human beings don't have minds of their own, that they are to be expected to vote for family over their personal principles? And since when did we determine leadership skills by the level of blind obedience one enjoys from relatives?

If anything, it is just cheap political gotcha, a way to point out once again that there is strife in the Guiliani family. One wonders how Prudhomme-O'Brien, a mother, would feel if her job performance and promotional opportunities were based on her relationship with her children. I doubt she would appreciate being asked about her parenting skills in a job interview.

Guiliani has a record to run on. People like Prudhomme-O'Brien, who want to learn more about his leadership skills, have a host of examples to choose from. Those, like Keller, who want to test Guiliani's "temperment," have a wealth of relevent topics and examples of leadership from which to pick. That the both of them feel they can't get to the bottom of the questions without digging into Guiliani's relationship with his children is an indication of how juvenile American politics have become.

Perhaps if Guiliani was running for Father of the Year, or if his children were openly campaigning for or against him, the question might be legitimate. But they aren't and it isn't. Guiliani answered Prudhomme-O'Brien's question exactly right when he told her his children were none of her business.

Likewise, it is a cheap shot for Michelle Obama to make a similar inference about Hillary Clinton. Questions about her husband are legitimate, after all he was the president. But to suggest, if indeed she was, that Hillary is unfit to lead because her husband has something in his pocket for you, is base and ugly.

The media today is portraying both Prudhomme-O'Brien and Obama as "blunt," "fearless", and "stronger all the time." When it is celebrating the most shallow of political instincts, what does it say about the state of media?

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