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October 10, 2008

Boston Globe noticing crime dogs not barking in 2008 campaign

Mcgruffscruff With all due respect to McGruff the Crime Dog (who has his own blog), I have been intrigued, somewhat amazed and consistently disappointed by how quiet the 2008 election season has been on issues of crime and punishment.  I am pleased to see that the Boston Globe, in this editorial headlined "Politically, crime doesn't pay," is also noticing that crime dogs are not barking this fall.  And the editorial has some interesting theories why:

Despite an overall drop in crime rates over the past decade, fear of crime remains a daily concern for residents in many American cities.  The candidates are giving short shrift to the issue by succumbing to their own fear of talking about crime.

Obama may be reluctant to draw attention to his hometown problems in Chicago, where murder and gun violence rates are up sharply.  McCain may see no political upside of the crime issue, either. He alienated the gun lobby again by supporting the rollback of the insidious Tiahrt amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement agencies to gain access to comprehensive federal gun tracing data as a means to identify rogue gun dealers....

Americans of all races are still waiting for a healthy debate on why black people are imprisoned at five times the rate of white people. Is it the breakdown of families, the failure of social and economic interventions, or racial bias on the part of police or prosecutors?  This subject deserves at least as much attention from the candidates as they give to "diplomacy without preconditions."

Each candidate still has some explaining to do.  Voters deserve to hear more about why McCain voted against bipartisan crime bills during the 1990s.  And Obama's position on the constitutionality of citywide bans on handguns remains murky, at best. The candidates seem only too happy to duck discussions about crime.  Neither, therefore, deserves commendation as an especially effective crime-fighter.

I concur that both Presidential candidates are happy to duck discussions about crime, but the media (both mainstream and non-traditional) are also responsible for failing to show any real interest or concern about these issues.  Moreover, it has been more than 20 years since either political party has shown a real interest at the federal level in having a truly "healthy debate" about crime and punishment.  Largely inconsequential distractions like the death penalty, the exact scope or federal judicial sentencing discretion, and US attorney firings make for great political theater and sound-bites, but it has been decades since persons in either the White House or Congress has shown a real interest in the hard work of figuring out how best to prevent and fight crime throughout the United States.

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October 10, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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The Death Penalty is an "inconsequential distraction?"

Posted by: Will | Oct 13, 2008 2:46:51 PM

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