Although I agree with Cincinnati talk-show host Bill Cunningham on many issues, I have to side with Sen. John McCain in denouncing Cunningham for his behavior while appearing at a McCain rally on the candidate’s behalf.
During his introductory remarks to the audience Cunningham repeatedly referred to Sen. Barack Obama as a “hack” and as Barrack Hussein Obama with the emphasis on Hussein, Obama’s middle name — a tactic used by critics who insist that Obama is really a Muslim.
McCain, who was not in the hall when Cunningham spoke, reacted angrily, telling reporters, “I take responsibility and I repudiate what he said. A person came out here before I arrived and made some disparaging remarks about Senators Obama and Clinton and I regret that. In my entire campaign I have treated Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton with respect. I will continue to do that throughout this campaign.”
For his part, Cunningham acted like a spoiled child being punished by his parents, threatening to vote for ultra-liberal Hillary Clinton in response to McCain’s scolding.
Cunningham seems to have forgotten that when you are speaking at a rally for a candidate, you’re not there for yourself, but for the person you are representing.
Unfortunately, when my fellow conservatives forget what their function is under certain specific circumstance, such as doing a warm-up for a candidate, they get it into their heads that everything is always about them.
They forget that it isn’t about them, it isn’t about us radio hosts — it’s really about the person for whom we’re emceeing an event, or introducing.
I go after liberals who start their spiel by using every imaginable obscene four-letter word when they are doing an event for a presidential candidate who just happens to be in the audience.
That’s appalling conduct but it’s equally appalling when conservatives think they have to prove their First Amendment rights by saying whatever they feel like saying, regardless of the fact that they may be hurting the very person they’re supporting.
They don’t have the right to say what they feel like saying when they are there in behalf of someone else who may well disagree with their remarks.
You have to understand your role as a warm-up speaker. You can’t just take it upon yourself to saddle your candidate with your personal opinions. You can’t decide, as Cunningham did, that you can help your man win this election by repeatedly reminding everybody what Obama’s middle name is and doing it in a derogatory way. There are, after all, far more important issues at stake.
Those who are going out of their way to stress Obama’s middle name know full well that they are really suggesting that Obama is a Manchurian candidate — a Muslim disguised as a Christian. That’s garbage politics and McCain was right in denouncing the tactic.
My fellow conservatives had better understand that this election isn’t just about us.
If somebody invited me to emcee an event or to introduce them I would keep in mind that my role would be to uplift the candidate, not to use the event as a pulpit from which I could promote Michael Reagan’s views.
John McCain is following in my dad’s footsteps when even in the heat of an election battle he shows respect for his opponents. Their stands on issues are fair game to him, but as fellow Americans they deserve respect. Anybody presuming to speak on his behalf owes it to him to be just as respectful to his opponents.
My dad understood Christ’s admonition that “whatever you do unto the least of my brethren you do unto me.” He showed respect for everybody no matter who they were or how often they attacked him — Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Gerald Ford; he respected them all. He saw Christ in all of them. That’s why he was able to accomplish all that he did.
Bill Cunningham and all those who think sly personal attacks on their opponents are a justified tactic should take that to heart.
©2008 Mike Reagan. If you’re not a paying subscriber to our service, you must contact us to print or web post this column. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by: Cagle Cartoons, Inc., Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail Cari@cagle.com, (800) 696-7561.