Reporter's Note: President Obama and Mitt Romney are hurling a lot of accusations at each other. So I am once again hurling a letter at the White House.
Dear Mr. President,
I have been watching the storm of accusations raging between you and Mitt Romney. I’ve also been noticing that you are both playing it pretty fast and loose with the facts. Your campaigns seem to take the thinnest shreds of evidence of any kind of wrongdoing, and parade them up and down Pennsylvania Avenue as if displaying the golden fleece.
And you wonder why people have so little faith in the political process. Oh sure, on any given day one of you is more guilty than the other, but you are both doing it, and each uses the other’s transgressions as an excuse for more of the same. It seems so beneath the dignity of the office, the race, and the electoral process, I understand why voters might question the fundamental values of both of you.
Over the weekend I was watching the Tour de France again. In case you missed it, some unknown assailant apparently dropped dozens of tacks onto the road causing tire punctures and chaos on the course. Much to the credit of the man who was leading the Tour, Bradley Wiggins, he asked the entire field of riders to slow down and wait for the rest of the top contenders to make sure the race would be decided based on talent, not on an unfair advantage.
That was sportsmanship. That was honesty. That was, to use a word you like so much, fair. Wiggins could have easily rocketed away and wiped at least one or two chief competitors out, and he would not have broken a single rule. But he didn’t. Even though bicycle racing is his job (and I’m sure he works harder at it than many politicians) Wiggins made it clear that how you win is every bit as important as winning itself.
I realize the irony of looking to bicycle racing for such a lesson amid all of its doping scandals, and yet the example of this one incident is inspiring. I think most Americans want to believe that our president, Democratic or Republican, is strong, tough, a fighter…and yet, at the core…we also want him to be a person of character; one who will not stoop to deception, misleading ads, or bullying tactics to win.
Unless of course the message from both top Democrats and top Republicans is that winning is all that matters….in which case, that’s a whole different matter.
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