ESCANABA - There was a time when candidates for the presidency were made of substance not fluff and bluster.
On Sept. 12, 1960, two months before the presidential election John Kennedy gave a speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association affirming his dedication to the separation of church and state. www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/ALL6YEBJMEKYGMCntnSCvg.aspx
In his run for the presidency Rick Santorum said he recently read Kennedy's speech to those Houston ministers and "almost threw up." One would think that a presidential candidate, who claims the moral high ground, would embrace that Houston speech. Kennedy said that real issues in the campaign were "...the hungry children I saw in West Virginia; the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills; the families forced to give up their farms; an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space."
Apparently Mr. Santorum wants to use religious belief as test for public office. He ignores Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, " but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."
Herman Cain is proud of his ignorance. He said, plagiarizing from a Simpsons episode, that he would lead not read. He also said he would rely on the military's judgment in Libya styled crisis. By not reading "The Herminator" may have missed Article II of Constitution that makes the president the commander-in-chief of the military.
Had President Kennedy followed the recommendations of military leaders in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis he would have issued an order to invade Cuba. Had he done so Armageddon would have resulted. Documents show that the Russians deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Cuba and intended to use them if the U.S. invaded Cuba.
Kennedy rejected invasion and imposed an embargo at sea. Missiles were removed from Cuba and nuclear war averted. At a minimum a candidate for president should understand the duties of the president and the lessons of history.
First Newt Gingrich said that America should have put troops on the ground in Libya and later said that the U.S. should not have intervened in any manner. In the course of his political career Mr. Gingrich has called for all manner of military interventions. When he was of age he studiously stayed away from military service. Chickenhawk can be applied to Mr. Gingrich.
Recently Mr. Gingrich said that schools should discharge its maintenance crews and give those jobs to students. He would repeal child labor laws. This past week Mr. Gingrich targeted poor children and their parents saying they do not work, a claim not based in fact. www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/opinion/blow-newts-war-on-poor-children.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Those surrounding a candidate influences that candidate's capacity for empathy, a quality that seems lacking from the current presidential debates. The folks that surround these candidates are lobbyists in the case of Mr. Gingrich, Washington's ultimate insider, crony capitalists in the case of Mr. Cain who has said that he is a brother with the Koch brothers from a different mother, and political insiders for Mr. Santorum as he has always worked within a political party.
During World War II President Kennedy commanded PT Boat 109. Those small power boats made from plywood were sent to confront the Japanese destroyers and buy the time America needed to rebuild the ships it lost at Pearl Harbor. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PT_boat. Mr. Kennedy is credited with saving the crewmen who survived after PT 109 was sunk by a Japanese destroyer.
At his inaugural President Kennedy described his generation, "born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage - and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world."
Messrs. Gingrich, Santorum and Cain have never been tempered or disciplined by anything. It makes you miss the Cold War.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at uppermichiganlaw.com/richard-clark.html