Posted by: minnow | April 6, 2019

Character Matters

The greatest attribute President Obama brought to the White House–Good Character–should be the minimum we require of a candidate running for office. Good Character is why “I Like Ike” made sense. Good Character is what we tell school children made George Washington and Abraham Lincoln special. Sure, we have had presidents of weaker character than Washington, Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Obama. But history has not ignored, excused, or celebrated their flaws. And while 45’s supporters lead by people like  McConnell and  Graham choose to ignore, excuse, celebrate and even take advantage of this president’s worst tendencies, the rest of us must not let this betrayal continue.

Character matters. The field of Democrats running for president is rich with people of good character. In fact, the more I listen to them speak, the more I look into what they’ve done and what they want to do, the more impressed I am. That said, a couple question marks have already risen to the surface and voters must weigh how serious they think these deficiencies are.

Former Vice President Biden is considering a run. Even without an official announcement Real Clear Politics had him polling as the front runner in every poll through out March. But, Biden has a problem. According to  Lucy Flores, former Nevada State assemblywoman, he put his hands on her shoulders, sniffed her hair, and kissed the back of her head just before she spoke at a 2014 campaign rally. His actions she said, caused her to feel “uneasy, gross, and confused.” Flores is not alone; other women reported similar behavior from the former Vice President. These previous accusations were brushed off as harmless “Uncle Joe”, chalked up to societal attitudes that once were seen as “the giving of a blessing” from the patriarch of a “family”. But, is that explanation enough?

In response to the Flores charge, Mr. Biden issued a statement which read in part,

I may not recall these moments the same way, and I may be surprised at what I hear. But we have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences, and men should pay attention.

In a video response that came out  Wednesday, the Former Vice President  said,

Social norms have begun to change. They’ve shifted and the boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset. And I get it. I hear what you’re saying…and I will be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.

The charges against Biden should be taken seriously. Women deserve to be heard. Yet, along side the accusations is a political record, with regard to women, which also ought to be taken into consideration. Biden was the original author of the Violence Against Women Act. He has been outspoken in its defense ever since. Like many of us, Biden’s views on abortion have evolved over the years. Ultimately, he believes the Roe V Wade decision handed down by the Supreme Court should stand, though he approved the ban on Partial Birth Abortion in most cases and believes government money should not go to provide abortions. If he decides to run his positions on these and other issues will be more thoroughly reviewed. But for this post, the issue is character. Should Biden’s past “old school” behavior toward women negate him as a candidate for President? It doesn’t for me. The jury is still out for the rest of the country.

Another strong candidate facing a character question is Senator Elizabeth Warren. After years of being called Pocahontas by the President, Warren took a DNA test and shared the results with the public. Rather than settling anything however, Warren’s choice seems to have muddied the water.  The major issue–did Warren ever benefit by the suggestion she might have some Native American ancestry–has not been talked about much, mostly because the short answer is No, she never did. What else do we know? First, the Cherokee do not recognize Warren’s DNA test as proof of anything. Secondly, Warren herself was not trying to claim tribal citizenship. And, finally we know something we’ve known for a long time, 45 is a racist bully who thinks he’s clever when he calls people names.

Should Warren’s part in the Pocahontas/DNA fiasco disqualify her from running for president? Of course, each voter needs to decide that for himself or herself. For me, it does not. Warren is so strong on issues that look out for the middle class I am willing to call her decision to take and publish a DNA test, misguided.

The last candidate I want to bring up is the mayor of South Bend Indiana, Pete Buttigieg (Boot-uh-judge). Some narrow minded people will undoubtedly call Mayor Pete’s character into question and they will do so for one reason and one reason only. They are self-righteous zealots, who feel justified in applying their twisted religious beliefs to everyone else. They will proclaim that the Mayor’s character is lacking because Pete Butigieg is gay.

Let us actually look at what makes up the character of this man. Before Mayor Pete was elected (and re-elected by a 80% margin after coming out as gay) South Bend made the list of the top 10 worst mid-level cities in the United States. Buttigieg brought it back from the brink. 15,000 jobs were added. Unemployment went from 11.8 to 4.1. A population which had been hemorrhaging grew by 1%. He took a seven-month unpaid leave from his job as mayor in 2014 to serve a tour of duty in Afghanistan, where he earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal for his counterterrorism work. Buttigieg knows 7 language including Arabic, which is unique in itself, but it becomes a matter of character when you read the story of Mayor Pete showing up to the ER to interpret for the mother of a gravely sick child. Finally, Pete Buttigieg is a man of faith, a faith that calls him toward his progressive ideals. And he’s not afraid to talk about either.

In this election–character–matters. Look for it!

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