Monday, April 21, 2008

Proving the Point

Nash McCabe, Obama's flag-lapel-pin questioner from last Wednesday's debate, seems to be Obama's San Francisco comments incarnate. McClatchy explains:

McCabe met her husband, Lloyd, in April 1983 at a dance. They married two months later. Six months after that, she says, he was injured in a coal mine accident. He hasn't worked since.

They never had children. He had back surgery. The muscle relaxers he took damaged his heart. He's had three bypasses, nine angioplasties, seven stents and a pacemaker. Three months ago doctors found a brain tumor. His choice: surgery that he may or may not survive, or life in a wheelchair.

Over 25 years of marriage, McCabe was the breadwinner. She said it took eight years to get her husband disability payments, during which time they racked up huge bills.

..."It took me almost two-and-a-half years to find a job that I got laid off from recently"...

"People who have sick spouses or children understand how hard it is," she said.

McCabe sympathizes with working-class people who got in over their heads during the housing boom. She opposes the Iraq war and thinks President Bush has hurt the country.

Yet for all of the issues Nash McCabe has had to deal with over the course of 25 years, what is the most pressing thing on her mind? The one question she would pose to the candidates?:

Senator Obama, I have a question, and I want to know if you believe in the American flag. I am not questioning your patriotism, but all our servicemen, policemen and EMS wear the flag. I want to know why you don't.

I don't think ABC could have found someone to illustrate Obama's point better than that, albeit unintentionally.

What Obama said in San Francisco, and what McCabe demonstrated brilliantly Wednesday night, is that even though economic and health issues play a much larger and tangible role in people's lives, they still fall back on singular, dissonant issues in voting. Once we get past the use of the term 'bitter,' it is clear that this sentiment is overwhelmingly true. Demonstrably so.

Only if his contention were true would a woman who is the sole breadwinner for her family, unemployed, caring for a husband with catastrophic health issues for a quarter century, and waiting for help of any kind ask that ludicrous a question.

Nash McCabe is overwhelmingly more directly affected by the economy and health care. Whether Obama wears a flag pin could not possibly affect her situation less, yet that is what she asks about. In doing so, she demonstrates Obama's assertion more clearly than he could ever hope to.


As an aside, Nash McCabe didn't appear out of nowhere.

Ask whom she might vote for in the coming presidential primary election and Nash McCabe, 52, seems almost relieved to be able to unpack the dossier she has been collecting in her head.

It is not about whom she likes, but more a bill of particulars about why she cannot vote for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

“How can I vote for a president who won’t wear a flag pin?” Mrs. McCabe, a recently unemployed clerk typist, said...

The above is from the April 4th edition of the New York Times. That ABC sought her out specifically to ask this question, as she has admitted, suggests that there were questions even Stephanopoulos and Gibson thought too ridiculous to utter. Better to have some lady to deflect the criticism.

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