It’s surprising that many presidential candidates are not living up to their responsibilities in this overheated pre-campaign season; they’re refusing to issue opinions on cable TV topics of the day.
Really, is that too much to ask? They demand we pay attention to their issues, such as why Obamacare is evil, but won’t deliver on pop topics.
On the other hand, most of them are remarkably predictable.
When Pope Francis warned that dealing with climate change is a moral imperative, most GOP candidates, including the Catholics, ignored him because they don’t want to anger voters who refuse to admit climate change is real.
Before South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican, said the Confederate flag must be removed from state capitol grounds, Republican candidates expressed no outrage about the symbol of the war for slavery flying near where nine African-Americans were massacred in their church by a white supremacist.
They said it was none of their affair; it is a sainted tradition; leave South Carolina alone. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who got rid of the flag in Tallahassee in 2001, said South Carolina would do the right thing, without being specific. Only former GOP candidate Mitt Romney said mothball the flag. Not until Haley made it politically safe to call for ousting the flag did GOP candidates laboriously climb on board: The Confederate flag symbolizes racism and rebellion against the United States. Public display outside of museums is offensive.
The Supreme Court just weighed in on a case involving the Sons of Confederate Veterans demanding that Texas put Confederate flags on specialty license plates to honor forebears who fought in the Civil War. This is interesting, because the flag, the Army of Northern Virginia battle flag, was briefly only one of three flags of the Confederacy; most Confederate soldiers died under regimental colors or state flags. The court said license plates are not a free-speech arena.
These controversies tell us presidential candidates should prepare to issue opinions on what cable TV wants to talk about.
Let’s take a topic currently of great interest to cable: Sharks.
From cable, we have gleaned that shark attacks are rising. Malevolent attacks are blossoming against unaware beach people. This is a new worry for every American who lives near or visits salt water.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would say that sharks are offensive to some people but they are a tradition, particularly in the South. That’s what sharks do — occasionally attack people who venture into the ocean. They have done so for decades. We have to respect that tradition.
Former Arkansas Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee would say that, really, presidential candidates should not have to say anything about sharks, because sharks are not a federal problem even when they swim across state boundaries. Really, ask him about something important, like how awful President Obama is.
Democrat Hillary Clinton would say some people like sharks and other people don’t, but the overriding good of the public would decree that sharks and people do not mix and something should be done. A presidential commission would examine all aspects and report to us in the first years of her upcoming presidency.
Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont would denounce sharks with passion. He would demand the SEC investigate Wall Street interests perpetuating the freedom of sharks to roam unstopped and warn against new trade treaties.
Wisconsin Republican Scott Walker would promise to abolish shark schools, aka unions. He would give us back an America where oceanfront property is not attractive to sharks because sharks would be forbidden to linger near beaches, circle boats or be in movies. Aquariums could not hire shark experts because they dangerously believe sharks are basically benign creatures which in any given year kill fewer than five people worldwide.
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, whose state apparently has horrific infestations of shark attacks, if you believe cable TV, would say sharks are the province of each state. If South Carolina, California, New Jersey and every other state with ocean beaches have shark problems, each state’s legislature must act or not as it sees fit.
With Confederate flags blessedly disappearing all over America, we’re all eager for tomorrow’s cable obsession — and the candidates’ opinions.
Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.