The demand that Barack Obama denounce and renounce his pastor, who delivered himself of sentiments a million miles from anything Obama has ever said, is only the latest and most publicized example. In previous little dust-ups Obama has had to distance himself from Louis Farrakhan (after Hillary Clinton demanded that he both denounce and renounce) and from his own middle name. Clinton, in her turn, has been called on the journalistic carpet because of remarks made by Robert Johnson, Geraldine Ferraro, a campaign manager and her husband. John McCain has had to repudiate a talk show host who introduced him and a minister who embraced him. And it’s only March. What do we have to look forward to? Denunciations of grade-school friends who grew up to become neo-Nazis or sub-prime lenders? . . .Foreign Policy blogger, Blake Hounshell, suggests that issues such as "war, the economy, health care, the environment" are taking a back seat because:
Meanwhile, the things the candidates themselves are saying about really important matters – war, the economy, health care, the environment – are put on the back-burner until the side show is over, though the odds are that a new one will start up immediately. . . . We should collectively denounce and renounce denouncing and renouncing.
[m]ost people don't have well-developed views on the truly important issues of the day, because such topics are complicated and folks are busy living their own lives. It doesn't take any special expertise or research to react to an incendiary speech by Jeremiah Wright, so that's a lot easier (and frankly, more entertaining) for everyone to chatter about than the collapse of Bear Stearns.I would take this even further, and say that honest debate about the technicalities of economic policy, or even Iraq policy, are completely irrelevant because (1) the eventual President will not be able to pass legislation exactly as promised, and (2) the general public simply cannot understand the intricacies of such policy, and are likely to misunderstand economic issues based on commonly held fallacious beliefs and the use of inaccurate heuristics.
What the public needs from the candidate is a basis on which to predict what they'll do, or how they'll do it, down the line. The public needs guiding principles. That's all. Easily found information, including (1) what policies have they supported in the past; (2) who stands to gain from their winning (via campaign contributions, voting patterns, earmarks); and (3) what are their basic predilections towards the Constitution, taxes, spending, regulation, and foreign policy. That's it.
That's why the press is pounding this "denouncing" business into the ground. We've hashed out all the real policy differences at this point. Now the campaign has dissolved into primitive feces-throwing. Clinton is desperate, the public has election "fatigue," and there are no more issues. So the flood of "tabloid" politics will continue until the Democratic Party has a candidate. And John McCain is just biding his time while the public gets sick of it all.