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Politicians should have some right to privacy

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2008

Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 10:09


If it wasn't enough for a primary presidential candidate to be black and have an African name, some anti-Barack Obama folks made a big deal about his middle name -Hussein - to suggest this Christian is actually a closet Muslim, as if that should matter.

As the media horde focused on presumptive Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, the New York Times published a story suggesting the Arizona senator may have had an affair with a lobbyist almost eight years ago.

As the November election is steadily approaching, candidates' private lives are being exposed. Their most personal, private details have become commonplace among the public, and politicians are reduced merely to their religion, sexual behavior and even middle name. It is good to get to know politicians, but how far is too far, and when is the line crossed?

Personally, I think the media has gone too far. Everybody's middle name connotes some form of heritage. His just happens to be one used in the Muslim world. It does not make him a Muslim, just as the name Patrick does not make someone Catholic. It is extremely absurd that people would assume that he is a Muslim, after he has repeatedly denied these accusations.

"He's Muslim…You can't take away what's given to you. It's given to you for a reason, and that's who you are. That's who he is," Vicki Hercsky, a Florida school teacher and member of the Republican Party said in a blog from www.newsweek.com.

A study in USA Today reported that a majority-53 percent-identify Obama as a Christian, 16 percent of conservative Republicans, 16 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 19 percent of rural Americans believe the Illinois senator is Muslim.

Let's say that he is Muslim-so what! That doesn't change anything about his campaign. It doesn't make him "loyal" to Muslim terrorists. But he is, as he said, a Christian.

After the media unleashed that Obama had the middle name Hussein last November, his religion was in question. Immediately, Obama responded in The Daily News, saying, "I've always been a Christian.... The only connection I've had to Islam is that my grandfather on my father's side came from that country. But I've never practiced Islam."

Barack Obama runs for president, and he's adored and admired. When Barack Hussein Obama is running for president, suddenly he's the terrorist leader trying to be our next president. The American people are freaking out. Obama's "loyalties" were soon in question, and the press immediately delves into his family history and religion. Should it really be necessary for anyone to disclose his or her personal beliefs? Granted-a politician is a public figure, and someone running for presidency of the United States` is an all- purpose public figure.

As if that wasn't enough, his passport files have been illegally viewed three different times since January. Contract workers for the State Department made a breach on private information in January, February and March. The files contained passport photos, date of birth and other information. Just because Barack Obama is an all-access public figure does not give the right for someone to unlawfully invade a private document of his. If, indeed, Obama had been traveling illegally, it could be looked into further, but the issue should have never come about since the documents were private.

"What other dirty little secrets will come out..." Fox News reporter John Gibson said is what illustrates why Americans are misinformed. When the word 'secret' is used, the connotation is negative, and it looks like something is being concealed.

Politicians generally have less privacy then everyday individuals. It is assumed that details about their life can be heard, read and talked about. However, if the information is false or distasteful, it seems wrong.

Since JFK's presidency, politicians have had their privacy invaded. Bill Clinton's privacy was invaded in 1999 when Monica Lewinsky and Kenneth Star exposed his personal affairs- no pun intended. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, had his privacy invaded in 2000, to find he was having an affair.

Politicians are not perfect people. They're far from it. But it would be nice to see the media actually respecting personal privacy once in a while.

Although, his liaisons actually affected politics and used government money, former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer's case may be different since he came forward. I think enough's enough. There's only so much I want to know about any middle-aged man and his $4,300 hooker. Once an event is public it is able to be re-broadcast or printed, but there should be a limit to what is considered news and what is catty gossip.

On the other side of the political spectrum, McCain faced the media prying into his personal life as well. In 2000, McCain was rumored to have had an affair with a lobbyist 30 years his junior. The lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, of the firm Alcade & Fay, had been spending a lot of time with McCain during his campaign for presidency when he ran in the 2000 race. They had been seen together and boarded several private planes together around that time. Cut to eight years later, and now the story surfaces.

"Unless he gives you special treatment or takes legislative action against his own views, I don't think his personal and social relationships matter," Charles Black, McCain's campaign adviser, said. Other advisors had to specifically distance McCain from Iseman and told him not to see her for fear of negative publicity.

There have not been any detailed findings or proof that the two had an affair, but now McCain's personal business is put in question, and his privacy is being looked at by the media. If they did have an affair, that's their business. If it is made public, then the media should have brought it out then, not waited strategically to try to hurt or damage McCain's campaign.

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