Saturday, 21 June 2008

A hypothetical question

I'm going to pose a hypothetical question, prompted by an encounter I had with someone earlier today.

Hillary Clinton had a bit of a rough ride during the Democratic primaries; Barrack Obama will no doubt have a rough ride during the presidential campaign. Leave aside for the moment the flak they've attracted because of their gender and their race, and some of the dubious attacks whuch purport to be about something else. but really do come back to those two factors. I'm talking just about the usual political cut-and-thrust: the attacks on their policies, their performance, their campaigns, their connections.

It's not inconceivable - in fact it's fairly likely - that some who look to Clinton and Obama as role models might be detered from entering public life because of what they've seen them go through over the past few months: the sheer intensity of the scrutiny, the relentlessness of being called to account, or being asked to defend what appear on the surface to be questionable decisions or dubious behaviour. And of course we want more women and more people from ethnic minority communities to come forward as candidates and play a role in public life. But that can't possibly be a reason to go soft on Clinton and Obama, can it? If they're running for office, they have to be judged by the same ethical standards as any WASP male, surely?

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