Election Coverage is Must-See TV


            Whether Barack Obama becomes the next president of the United States, he and his Republican counterpart, John McCain, have turned the 2008 showdown into must-see television.

            The suspense leading up to the selection of Joe Biden as Obama’s running mate created the kind of debate usually reserved for March Madness, with fans arguing why certain candidates would survive to the next round and others would fall by the wayside.

            Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 28 was one of the most viewed television events of the year, but was almost immediately overshadowed the next day when McCain picked Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, as his running mate in an attempt to lure disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters to the GOP.

            Nevertheless, like Obama’s resounding speech, the pick of Palin and the Republican National Convention was almost immediately overshadowed by coverage of Hurricane Gustav hitting the New Orleans area.

            Now that the dust has settled on a dramatic week of events, Obama’s selection of Joe Biden and the “healing” process that took place at the Democratic convention in Denver, should give the freshman senator from Illinois the slight advantage heading into November.

            Throughout this election process, conservatives have criticized Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience.  However, when he chose Biden to be his running mate, many said the choice only magnified his lack of experience in foreign affairs.

            I often say that an effective leader knows his weaknesses and is humble enough to surround himself with people that help him become strong in a weak area.  When John F. Kennedy faced the same criticism over his so-called lack of experience and lack of popularity in the South, he sought a running mate that was strong in those areas, Lyndon Johnson.

            When McCain showed his vulnerability among evangelical Christians, he chose a candidate that would be able to appeal to conservative Christians on issues such as abortion.  Furthermore, he picked a 44 year old, quieting those who believe 72 is too old for a first-term president.

            An effective leader must also be humble enough to listen to others and sometimes follow them, because all are weak in some area.  Ultimately, Biden gives Obama an outspoken leader who is known for his bluntness and is willing to speak out against his own boss.

            According to his official Senate website, Biden has represented the state of Delaware since being elected to the United States Senate at the young age of 29 in 1972.  He is recognized by his Democratic and Republican colleagues for his work in foreign policy, terrorism, drug policy and crime, offering an exit strategy for the Iraq War, which was overwhelmingly supported in the Senate by a 75-23 vote.

            Biden is leading a Congressional effort to end genocide in Darfur, Sudan and authored The Second Chance Act, which assists federal, state and local governments in providing inmates with tools needed to successfully reintegrate into society after their release.  The bill was signed into law on April 9, 2008.

            Biden’s adversary, Sarah Palin, became the first female governor of Alaska on December 4, 2006.  According to her official website, while in office she has overhauled education funding and implemented the Senior Benefits Program, which provides support for low-income senior citizens in Alaska.  The governor also created Alaska’s Petroleum Systems Integrity Office, which provides oversight and maintenance of oil equipment and the Climate Change Subcabinet, which is developing a climate change strategy for her home state.

            Palin has also been a role model for her most important job, being a mother to five children, including a pregnant 17 year old and a newborn son with special needs.

            However, the fact that the Republicans have a female on their ticket should work in Biden’s favor during the debates.  Known for his outspokenness Biden will be forced to tone it down while debating Palin, in order not offend millions of female voters who felt Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly during her campaign.  Regardless of who wins, history will be in November and the glass ceiling that Clinton spoke of will be completely shattered.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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