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Focus on what’s important

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, September 11, 2008

Christina Pesavento’s article from Sept. 9, “Selfishness vs. Self-Sacrifice,” reads like a recitation of Republican talking points instead of a reasoned political argument.

As is typical in an election year, unfounded character attacks tend to take precedent over a discussion of the issues. I am not discrediting John McCain’s service to the United States during the Vietnam War, including his time as a tortured prisoner of war. He demonstrated bravery and courage, and he nearly sacrificed his life in service of his country. I believe that such loyalty to the United States is an important trait for a leader to possess.

What bothers me is that McCain’s military record and his time as a POW is constantly used, as it is in Pesavento’s article, as McCain’s primary and trumping qualification to be the next president of the United States, while Barack Obama is condemned for having no such qualifications. While such an experience can provide valuable insights, the past two presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have had negligible military service records, and John Kerry, another decorated Vietnam veteran, lost the election in 2004.

Pesavento is right about one thing – McCain’s actions do “speak loudly enough to stand alone.” Though Pesavento claims McCain is devoted “to America and to its people rather than to his party or to himself,” how does this compare to McCain’s voting with George Bush 90 percent of the time or his ownership of seven houses? McCain has also consistently voted against legislation for veterans’ rights (despite being an heroic veteran), against a Martin Luther King Day for the state of Arizona, and against healthcare for children (SCHIP). Shouldn’t we be focusing on this type of information in the upcoming election?

Instead of criticizing Obama for the locations of his speeches, find a policy or plan to criticize. Instead of citing only McCain’s heroic past, add to it by talking about his present voting records or his path for foreign policy. According to how Pesavento’s article reads, Obama is “selfish” because he graduated from Columbia and Harvard Law, became the first African-American of the Harvard Law Review, and wrote an autobiography. As long as claims such as these are being made, we are being distracted from the real issues at hand in this election that will shape the future of our nation.

Liz Lefebvre


Badin Hall

Sept. 9