Call it a contest, but the prize is not cash or even material. It’s
the intellectual satisfaction of transcending politics to speak with
clarity about what really matters to the people in this election.

Can we replace the really tired phrase “playing the race card” (even when they are)?

The presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John
McCain traded charges over who was guilty of injecting race into the
presidential debate and blamed each other Friday for its increasingly
negative tone.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Where to begin…

McCain has accused Obama, who aims to become the first
black U.S. president, of playing politics with racial issues for
predicting that McCain and others in the Republican Party would try to
scare voters by saying the Democrat “doesn’t look like all those other
presidents on the dollar bills.”

In and of itself, true. Obama shouldn’t have lowered himself to that nonsense.

Obama senior strategist David Axelrod said Friday that
race became an issue only when the McCain campaign cast a slant on
Obama’s remarks.

Ridiculous. Okay to lob a hot coal into the opponent’s camp and then criticize the campers for complaining?

But then Sen. McCain’s camp comes out with this ad that pokes fun at Sen. Obama for…what?….grandiosity.

The One. Moses. Epiphany. The Light Will Shine Down on You.

“Barack Obama may be The One. But is he ready to lead?” the narrator
asks in the latest video by Senator John McCain’s campaign. It’s only
on the Web, but watch it go viral.

The heavens part in this new Web ad, which wraps Mr. Obama’s words
around the emerging meme among Republicans (and even Senator Hillary
Rodham Clinton when she talked about the “celestial choirs“) that the
presumptive Democratic nominee is the “anointed” one, and mocks him
with a parting of the seas by Moses (played by the late Charlton Heston
in “The Ten Commandments”) and that, oh, see-then-it’s gone, Obama
seal, that was, uh, derided even before the word “presumptuous” came
into vogue to describe him with his world tour.

This is all so distracting and cheap. And beneath the dignity of the office they both seek.

Can we have a do-over?

Or, instead of injecting race in a campaign that’s been loaded with
it all along (we’re constantly reminded), can we inject respect?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....