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Back to the issues

Letter to the Editor | Monday, March 31, 2008

This is no response to any specific Viewpoint article, but rather to the overflow of press coverage regarding Barack Obama’s relationship with his church pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It occurred to me that the media has seemed to place an unfair weight on the relationship Obama has shared with Wright over the years. For anyone unaware of the issue, Wright is the pastor of Trinity Church and recently became famous for his controversial remarks regarding race in America. While I do not need to go into the specifics of his comments, they are seen as quite heated and contentious.

The media since then has been highly critical of Obama’s relationship with his pastor, and rightly so. If we are to elect an individual to the highest public office in this country, are we not allowed to scrutinize their character? After all, a lot may to be said by the people with whom we associate. However, the media has taken it too far.

Before I go on, I should state that I am not a Barack Obama supporter, nor am I a Clinton supporter. I simply want to see a fruitful debate among the Democratic Party that is fair and worthy to produce a candidate to the general election. Obama recently answered questions regarding his relationship with Wright, and even went on to comment on racial divisions that still exist today.

I have to admit I was extremely impressed with the articulate Obama and can fully understand why he is such an attractive candidate to a lot of people. But even with his answers, the media did not let it go. They still ask the piercing questions concerning his character, almost as if to make up for previous lack of scrutiny.

All I ask is that we do not forget the issues. While it is easy to say that this upcoming election is a momentous one for the history of our country (every presidential election cycle says that), it does have importance. We are currently in a war that has passed its fifth anniversary. We have major issues with the continuation of social security. The economy appears to be in a slump. We have serious thinking to do in the coming years.

I want to know both where Obama stands and what he has done in the past as a senator to affirm those beliefs. Sure, it is easy to go on his Web site and read about it, but I want to listen to him articulate it more. I want the media to foster debate about the issues. I want to know how Obama will manage to stabilize the Middle East with his steady withdrawal of American troops. I want more specifics on government-sponsored healthcare. Exactly how will it work? What are the consequences?

These are only a few of the many issues on which the media could focus, but instead their attention is elsewhere. Do I think scrutinizing character is unimportant? No. But I do believe the media has to do a better job balancing that with debate among the issues.

I do not support Obama, and I disagree with what I do know of his stance on issues. All I ask is give him an opportunity to make a case for what he believes in. Debate amongst the issues will better serve this country in the long run.

Patrick McDonnell


Fisher Hall

Mar. 19