Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We Can't Stand for Another Joke

As an educator, sometimes it is necessary to teach that some jokes are inappropriate in a given place or time. I learned this when I was thirteen years old when my teacher, Ms. Charles, overheard an "improper" exchange between my classmate, Sean, and me. Our punishment was to write the unabridged definition of "propriety" in response. For those of you who want to know about old school discipline grab the unabridged Merriam Webster’s Dictionary and look up the word "propriety."

As a young teenager, I remember clearly, that the comment I had whispered was wrong. Certainly, I didn’t want to write the definition of propriety, but I understood that I had purposely done something wrong. Again, please forgive me I was thirteen at the time. I always assumed that adults knew better, but I was wrong.

Now, everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but there is a time and a place. I appreciate the fact that the spotlight during a presidential campaign is unbelievable, but if you are on stage think before you speak. This cuts across party lines. What exactly am I referring to? Senator John McCain is absolutely unfit to be President of the United States of America.

In 1986, during his initial run for the U.S. Senate, John McCain made an extremely vulgar joke about a gorilla and a woman. This is a joke that I would not have tolerated in my classroom of Severely Emotionally Disturbed (S.E.D.) pre-teens. And yet, John McCain, who had already served a few years in the U.S. Congress, got away with it with no repercussions. This joke reflected a remarkable lack of respect for women. Well, maybe he was really young, and therefore he shouldn’t be held responsible for the joke. Then again, he was 50 years old at the time.

But this was not the last time McCain made a disgusting comment. In late June of this year, he actually made a joke about beating his wife! Today's media coverage ensures that the public knows everything from when a presidential candidate coughs to when he thinks he's being funny.

McCain also goes on and on about how much more experience he has than his opponent, Barack Obama. He talks about how much more mature he is than his opponent. Age does not equal maturity. He regularly brings up the foreign policy card to convince voters that he is best qualified for the job of U.S. President, yet, one of his most embarrassing moments was when he confused the two main Iraqi Islamic factions: Shia and Sunni. He didn't know the differences between them! And he still hasn't figured out that his jokes are not funny, such as those he made about killing Iranian civilians with cigarettes.

I realize that the pressure of a presidential race is extreme for anyone. But, when foreign policy (read diplomacy), readiness from day one, and experience are the main thrust of a candidate's campaign, then he needs to show not only understanding of policies and problems, but also the propriety to know what should be said, where it can be said, and to whom he can say it. If the next United States President does not know how to handle foreign affairs a bit more delicately, then our national and foreign policies will continue to resemble a really bad joke. At the age of 72, the adage, "You can't teach an old dogs new tricks" certainly applies in this race and case. McCain is not the man for the job.

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