Character Versus Change

Two weeks ago I wrote about character and how we define our own reputations. Our reputations are based on the shadow cast by our character, but the size and depth of that shadow depends on our own actions, the hardships we’ve faced, and the destiny we forge for ourselves.

We are experts when it comes to our own character and we alone make the choices by which our reputation takes shape. By what measure do we judge another person’s character? What if things are a bit clouded and we can’t see their shadow too clearly? How do we judge their character?

Do we judge another person’s character by their words, actions, and accomplishments? Do we consider their opinions, thoughts, experiences and values? How long does it take to learn the true nature of someone’s character?

I’m sure the answer varies with most people. Sometimes you can judge a person’s character the moment they walk up to you, with others it can take much longer. Character plays a large part in how we interact with each other everyday. From the teenager working at the coffee shop to the seasoned business executive, we interact with people differently based on our perception of their character. You would most likely hesitate doing business with someone who had a bad reputation, and you would probably avoid taking stock tips from a bum sitting on a park bench.

Shouldn’t we take character into account when choosing the next President of the United States?

I have found this election cycle to be very confusing. While the media focuses on the integrity of a plumber named Sam (yes, his name is Sam, not Joe), and the color of Sarah Palin’s shoes, they totally ignore the character flaws of Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Barack Obama himself tries to deflect all inquiries about his character by cutting off access from organizations that ask tough questions, and by trying to convince us that voting for John McCain is just asking for “more of the same“.

The one issue I have had through this entire cycle, is Barack Obama’s character. He sat in the same church for 20 years listening to one of the most vile, racist pastors in America, and thought nothing of it. Mr. Obama himself said Rev. Jeremiah Wright was his mentor. Mr Obama served on the Annenberg Challenge board with a known domestic terrorist and they even shared the same office. William Ayers along with the Weather Underground were responsible for bombing police headquarters, the Capitol building, and the Pentagon. He has never apologized and he has said he wishes they had done more at the time.

When people ask legitimate questions about his association with either of these two men, the term “guilt by association” always comes into the conversation. When it comes to defining his character, only he can decide whether associating with a radical reverend or a known domestic terrorist is good for his reputation and only we, as voters, can decide if a man with that reputation should be sitting in the Oval Office.

Mr. Obama has stated that he is willing to meet separately “without precondition”, the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. In the past, Mr. Obama has stated that our American soldiers are “just air raiding villages and killing civilians” in Afghanistan. When it comes to defining his character, only he can decide if talking smack about our military while agreeing to sit down “without precondition” with these leaders is good for his reputation, and again, only we, as voters, can decide if that’s the type of leader we need commanding our armed forces.

A year ago, Barack Obama promised to accept public campaign financing. He promised to work with the Republican nominee to operate within those limits. He lied. As soon as he realized how much money he could make, he dropped that idea. He claimed the system was broken and he would be at a disadvantage because of Republicans if he accepted public campaign funding. Lying does not make a good impression on people when you are trying to decide if you are a person of good character. On that very topic, former Democratic Senator Bob Kerrey from Nebraska stated, “a hypocrite is a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue — who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. And that, it seems to me, is what we are doing now“. Ouch.

Over the course of this campaign, Barack Obama has done nothing to prove to me that he is a man of good character. Along with the reasons listed above, he was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. He voted to force babies, who were born alive during abortion procedures, to die. And he claimed in 2004, that he did not have the experience to serve as President of the United States, then decided to run anyway.

The demands of serving as President do not afford the person residing in the White House a mulligan simply because he couldn’t make the right decision the first time around.

First and foremost, we need to know where a candidate stands. We need to be able to trust that the next President will be capable of making difficult decisions and we need to have the confidence that those decisions will be made in the best interests of the American people.

Over the course of the election, even with the media bias towards Barack Obama, I haven’t heard of a single reference that John McCain has ever associated with known domestic (or foreign) terrorists. I haven’t heard him discredit our military or offer to sit down with those who support terrorism and he’s never voted a single time to allow babies to die. When it comes to campaign financing he kept his word, and he has a proven record that he can and will serve his country with loyalty and devotion.

If this is what Barack Obama means by “more of the same” then it’s a no-brainer. Based on the character of the men running for the office, I don’t need the type of change Barack Obama is trying to sell, so I’ll take more of that same he’s been talking about.