It happens every four years, as U.S. presidential elections roll around: I feel like a stranger.

That’s because news reports blare out what’s not of interest: trivial statistics (171,000 jobs added in October; jobless rate up 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent), biographical irrelevancies (claims that Romney outsourced jobs to other countries when at Bain Capital), and forgettable gaffes (Obama saying that “Voting is the best revenge”).

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This limited discussion misses two main points: First, the quite contrary philosophies of Democrats and Republicans. Where’s the discussion of equality vs. liberty, the federal government vs. federalism, much less about topics like education, immigration and Islamism? What are the candidates’ criteria for appointing federal judges, their ways to solve the debt crisis, or their guidelines for the use of force abroad? What about the scandalous administration reaction to the events in Benghazi on Sep. 11, 2012? It almost seems that the candidates tacitly agreed to ignore the most important and interesting issues.

Second, the debate ignores that the candidates are not isolated individuals but heads of large teams. Who are the candidates for secretary of state, defense, and treasury, and for attorney general? Who are likely heads of the National Security Council and the Council of Economic Advisers? What are the implications of each team taking office?

Let’s hope that voters can see their way through this miasma of superficiality. (November 3, 2012).

Originally published at National Review Online and DanielPipes.org on November 3, 2012.

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Daniel Pipes is a world-renowned Middle East and Islam expert. He is President of the Middle East Forum. His articles appear in many newspapers. He received his A.B. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University and has taught at Harvard, Pepperdine, the U.S. Naval War College, and the University of Chicago. He is a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace and other institutions. His website is DanielPipes.org.

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