OPINION

Candidates for everyone

A few days after the Republican candidate for president (and Vietnam war hero) John McCain claimed that Barack Obama was unfit to lead the US because he had not served in the military, the Democrat front-runner tried to show that he too had an heroic past, albeit indirectly: His grandmother’s brother, Charlie Payne, was among the US troops who liberated Auschwitz, Obama said. Unfortunately for Obama, it was the Red Army that entered that death camp in January, 1945. Uncle Charlie and the 89th Infantry Division liberated Buchenwald. A little mistake that, in the fever of US politics, became an embarrassing blunder. A few months earlier, Hillary Clinton had made a global fool of herself when it was proved that she had been exaggerating about supposedly coming under sniper fire during a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996. In another effort to look macho, Mrs Clinton recently declared that if Iran were to attack Israel with nuclear weapons, she, as president, would obliterate Iran. McCain, who won the adulation of the US press for his candor in his failed run in 2000, is today accused of pandering to groups that he opposed, including Evangelical Christians, corporate lobbyists and hard right-wingers. The news media and countless bloggers report every flip-flop and plaster the candidates with ridicule. But the candidates are undeterred. Each adopts a one-dimensional persona. McCain is the maverick, the straight-talker. Obama is the new Kennedy and source of new hope. Hillary Clinton knows best and will take care of everyone. They are so anxious to pick up every vote that, at the same time, they embrace the most contradictory positions. They sacrifice credibility and confuse everyone as to who they are. The way things are going, soon voters will first choose the character and policies of a virtual president and then look for someone to embody their desires.