Voting issue: a fact, policy, or moral position (or a set of several such things) that distinguishes one candidate or position from another and thus can justify, singly or in concert with other issues, voting for one candidate or position over the other.
A number of my commenters have been treating Senator Barack Obama's association with William Ayers as a voting issue, a reason to vote against Obama and for Senator John McCain. Last night, that voting issue was negated by David Letterman, who reminded America of Senator McCain's own relationship with convicted felon G. Gordon Liddy:
"Did you not have a relationship with Gordon Liddy?" Letterman asked about Watergate burglar G. Gordon Liddy.
McCain said he knew him. Then, after a commercial break, McCain said, "I know Gordon Liddy. He paid his debt, he went to prison ... I'm not in any way embarrassed to know Gordon Liddy."
"You understand the same case could be made of your relationship with him as is being made with William Ayers?" Letterman said.
McCain said he has been completely open about his relationship with Liddy [David Bauder, "McCain Tries to Make Peace with Letterman," AP via Yahoo News, 2008.10.16].
McCain's association with Liddy isn't news. The Chicago Tribune covered it back in May, when the Clinton campaign was roadtesting the McCain campaign's tactics. Let's compare:
- Bill Ayers participated in bombing a statue, the New York Police headquarters, the U.S. Capitol, and the Pentagon. G. Gordon Liddy participated in a White house plot to subvert the Constitution.
- Ayers has never been convicted or served prison time. Liddy was convicted of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wire-tapping, was senteced to 20 years, and served 5.5 until President Carter commuted his sentence.
- Ayers is now a professor of education. Liddy is a conservative talk radio host.
- Ayers has said "we didn't do enough" to stop the Vietnam War, a statement interpreted by some to mean he thinks he should have set off more bombs in the early 1970s. In 1994, after the feds stormed the branch Davidian compound in Waco, Liddy said on his radio program, [sorry, rough language coming] "Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests. ... Kill the sons of bitches." (And as for Liddy on Hitler....)
- Ayers and his wife hosted a campaign event at his house for Obama in 1995. Liddy hosted a campaign event for McCain in 1998.
- Ayers donated $200 to Obama in 2001. Liddy has given at least $5,000 to McCain over the years, including $1,000 this year.
- Senator Obama has called Ayers' terrorist acts "despicable" and condemned them. Senator McCain appeared on Liddy's radio show last November and said, "I'm proud of you, I'm proud of your family.... It's always a pleasure for me to come on your program, Gordon, and congratulations on your continued success and adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great."
It's simple: if you think Ayers is a voting issue, then you must think Liddy is a voting issue. Have fun voting for Barr or Nader.