Wow. This election season is looking more and more like a reality television show. You've got the hot, young Senator with screaming fans in complete adoration. T-shirts bearing his likeness, and catchy slogans like "Barack the Vote!" can be seen everywhere. Like a teen idol, his face is on the cover of seemingly every magazine in the country. Senator Obama is not a politician. He's a rock star!
You've got your maverick Sen. John McCain who is conservative in real life but plays bipartisan on television. He's not like the other Republicans and willing to work across the aisle with those pesky Democrats. He is the person that will best help us to win the war in Iraq and can speak to a broader base. He can unite disaffected Democrats and liberal Republicans. Um, OK.
I'm not that religious, but did Jesus come back and I miss it? The rhetoric that is floating around these candidates, also known as "spin," is astonishing. Are we paying attention to what they are saying and doing or are we doing what we usually do -- not paying attention at all. This election amounts to high school superlatives -- the most popular guy will win, not because of who he really is, but because of who people say he is. It is 10th grade ideology all over again.
With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to explore and possibly explode the falsehoods in which these two giants have encased themselves. As we count down to Nov. 4, let's start poking at a few myths.
TOP FIVE MYTHS ABOUT SEN. BARACK OBAMA
1. OBAMA IS A MUSLIM. Sorry hate mongers. He is a Christian and has about as much in common with Osama bin Laden as you. Hate on -- just make sure that you know what you're talking about.
2. OBAMA IS NOT REALLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN. Actually his mother is from Kansas and his father is from Kenya. That makes him about as African-American as you can get -- genetically.
3. OBAMA HAS AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN AGENDA. NOT. For all of you folks who are voting for him because he is black and you think that his No. 1 priority in the White House is going to be you, think again. It is not going to happen, unless you happen to be a member of the middle-class. Before you turn on him for not having African-Americans at the top of his priorities, check out his platform at least once before you vote.
4. OBAMA IS GOING TO GET US OUT OF IRAQ QUICKLY. Has someone been sprinkling that magic dust again? Am I trapped in the "poppies" scene from The Wiz? Sixteen months is quite ambitious and is a long time, particularly when we have been at war for five years. Dig in America. Getting out of this mess will not be a sprint -- it will me more like a marathon.
5. OBAMA IS ELITIST. If Barack Obama is elitist, then what do you call the elitists? Single mom. Absentee father, whose Kenyan father was a domestic servant to the British. His mother's mother worked on an assembly line in small-town Kansas and his grandfather worked on an oil rig during the Depression, only to serve in World War II later. That sounds pretty working-class to me and like many working-class folks, Barack rose up through his education. Is that why his education platform is so stellar?
TOP FIVE MYTHS ABOUT SEN. JOHN MCCAIN
1. MCCAIN'S MILITARY SERVICE IS OVERSTATED. Let me see. While on a mission, he was shot down, tortured and held as a prisoner for years. While being tortured regularly, he participated in some Vietnamese propaganda efforts because he had reached his "breaking point." That makes him dishonorable? Yeah, whatever.
2. MCCAIN CARES ABOUT WOMEN AND SENIOR CITIZENS. Just because his ads feature his mother and his wife does not mean that he cares about senior citizens or women. John McCain skipped a decisive, time-sensitive vote that resulted in a key funding measure for Medicaid to fail. McCain was the deciding nonvote. He recently skipped another vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. McCain said that women should get "education and training," instead of suing for equal pay. This to a woman who performed the same work as her male colleagues for lesser pay for more than 20 years.
3. JOHN MCCAIN IS TOO OLD TO BE PRESIDENT. That's ridiculous. The eldest members of our society are often the wisest. If William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan did it, so can he. Let's just hope that McCain makes better decisions than those two former presidents if he wins the office. Maybe his stance on Medicaid will evolve like his stance on race relations.
4. JOHN MCCAIN IS LIBERAL. Let's see ... multiple votes against making Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday. (If you will recall, his state was one of the last states to make it a national holiday.) Wants Roe v. Wade overturned. He is against helping Americans who were the victims of predatory lending, even though he voted to bail out the banks that gave the loans. He believes in continuing this war at all costs, in spite of evidence that the reasons for declaring war were fabricated. Working with liberal/independent/conservative Joseph Lieberman on a global warming bill certainly does not make one a very good liberal.
5. JOHN MCCAIN IS WORKING CLASS. Not so much. He is the son and grandson of distinguished Navy Admirals. He attended the United States Naval Academy and is married to Cindy McCain, whose net worth was thought to exceed $100 million even before the recent sale of Anheuser-Busch to InBev for $52 billion. Just to show that they really are like us, Mrs. McCain divested more than $2 million from Sudan this month. How very working class of them.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is an assistant professor of communications and media studies at Goucher College and editorial director for RushmoreDrive.com.