Jack Simpson - Which candidate is our American Idol?

I don't know how you feel abut this, but some folks are weary of turning on their television only to find the news dominated by the activities of two candidates for president. Which individual, John McCain or Barak Obama, can best handle the problems of war and peace? Who do we choose?

The primaries are over. Did voters, the ones who went to the polls, pick the best candidates? Some excellent choices fell by the wayside. Did special interests, the groups donating big money, make the people's choice?

Special interests, corporations, activists, churches, veterans, labor unions, the NRA all sought the ears of the candidate most likely to serve their legislative preferences. Few candidates for public office can afford to run without adequate funding. They need those donations. Small groups, making political donations, often exercise greater powers than the people themselves. Registered voters do not always exercise their right to cast a ballot.

So the debate goes on as candidates square off and snipe at one another. Obama takes a whirlwind, fact-finding trip to the Middle East. Some say this was only a series of photo ops and has done little to enhance candidate Obama's foreign policy experience. He didn't seem to find the facts he was looking for, because somehow his views remained the same after his return to the United States.

McCain has painted Obama as divisive, refusing to support wounded vets and insisting on withdrawal of forces from Iraq before victory is achieved.

Obama responded, claiming McCain is trying to scare the public and is too close to Bush administration policies. Obama managed to dominate the news from abroad and McCain tried to grab his share of headlines with speeches about the economy.

On and on the contest goes with voters trying to decide which candidate can best serve the needs of the people and ensure national security.

Polls show that at the moment Obama has a slight lead over McCain. Maybe the press like Obama's photo opportunities better than those of McCain. Perhaps the media has already made Obama their "American Idol" in spite of his failure to define "change" with specific policies. Some wonder why he removed the American flag from the airplane that transports him to events. Others contrast his years in Congress (143 days) and his military service (zero) with McCain's 26 years in Congress and 22 years in the military.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.