September 11 and pig politics

I’ll make this work. Trust me. I just came back from a few days in D.C. And aside from being amazed that you can’t get a cup of coffee until 5:30 a.m., I’m struck by how divided people are over the upcoming presidential election and issues facing our country in general. I was at a conference that brought together people from business, community nonprofits, government and education.

There’s a lot of talk. Not sure about how much listening. And certainly I’m convinced that among this group at least, minds are pretty much made up. Typical? Something tells me yes. But I guess we’ll see in the next two months.

Still, I was thinking while running this morning that we sure didn’t capitalize on the spirit of unity sparked by the 9/11 attacks. Remember when there was an American flag outside many (most?) homes? Here’s from Alan Jackson — in case we forgot.

Probably won’t be humming that tune while running for a while. Cause, folks, there sure ain’t no love, civility and at times common sense in politics or the national debate over issues these days.

Jane Swift, the former governor of Massachusetts, spoke at the Corporate Voices for Working Families annual meeting as part of a panel discussion involving the campaign, politics and legislative issues. She talked some about problems we face in education — where many students leave school unprepared for jobs — if they graduate at all. And she made a compelling point. One that I endorse.

She said that we have failed to attract great teachers into our schools.

And she added: “The lack of a sense of urgency on this issue appeals me.”

I’m thinking she is absolutely right. And then I made my way to the airport, had a beer and watched some TV while waiting for my flight. The big story: Obama’s comment about McCain’s economic plan. “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It’s still going to stink after eight years,” Obama said.

And as reported in the online version of The San Francisco Chronicle:

The McCain campaign immediately jumped on the comment, arguing that it was a sexist remark directed at Palin, the GOP’s first woman on a presidential ticket. In her acceptance speech last week, she had referred to herself in a joke about lipstick being the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull.

OK. Now Jane Swift reenters the story. According to a story in the Boston Globe (online) has “signed on to lead the defense of Palin’s record.”

Citing the remarkable similarities in their biographies, the former acting governor of Massachusetts this week signed up as a leader of Republican efforts to defend the record of Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin. Swift, 43, was tapped by Republican presidential nominee John McCain to lead a “truth squad” defending his 44-year-old vice presidential pick.

“When issues of opportunities for women and for mothers are being discussed, I feel like I can say something that helps put these issues in the proper perspective so that my daughters aren’t fighting these battles 20 years from now,” Swift said in a phone interview between her various TV and radio appearances yesterday.

“It’s disappointing that we’re still not to the point where we can deal appropriately with gender questions in politics,” she added. “We really should be able to talk about Governor Palin’s accomplishments without people raising on TV whether or not she’s capable of doing the job.”

I’m not discounting the importance of looking at Sarah Palin’s background or experience. Or Barack Obama’s for that matter.

And good for Jane Swift if she want to enter that debate. She is a compelling advocate.

But it’s 9/11. Shouldn’t we be talking just a little more about the economy, the war in Iraq, homeland security. You know. And yeah — about how to get excellent teachers into our classrooms. And keep them there.


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