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Barack Obama's Fathers Day Speech

Candidates' Pasts Spark Strong Ideas. Which Is Best for US?

Both assumed presidential candidates had scenes from their respective personal histories appear this weekend, giving a retrospective peek into the shaping of their contemporary philosophies.

Barack Obama used Father's Day to unleash a sharp criticism on the topic of fatherhood in the African American community, Bill Cosby-style. Obama, recalling being abandoned by his own father at age 2, said, "I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls."

He blasted absentee fathers saying they are "missing from too many lives and too many homes," and that "they have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it." He concluded his stern statement saying, "we can't simply write these problems off to past injustices. Those injustices are real. There's a reason our families are in disrepair ... but we can't keep using that as an excuse."

To see what part of McCain's past came to light this weekend,


John McCain's War College thesis was released this weekend, a glimpse into the shaping of the Senator's views on the Iraq War. In the piece written after his release from the North Vietnamese prison camp, McCain highlighted the necessity of forgiveness and sharply attacked what he called “the evils of parole and amnesty.” cushy treatment for soldiers who didn't resist like he did — calling their warm welcome “inexcusable.”

His most striking proposal was that the military should be teaching US foreign policy to its recruits. Writing, “too many men in the armed forces of the United States do not understand what this nation’s foreign policy is,” calling for not indoctrination, but “a simple, straightforward explanation of the foreign policy of the United States.” McCain still stands by the idea saying, “it is important, not just for POW’s, but all Americans serving in combat to understand the purpose and reason for the sacrifices they are asked to make for our country.”

Do either statements surprise you? In these two instances, with Obama using his past to strengthen the US from within, and McCain looking outward — which personal history makes a stronger argument for election?


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