John McCain's presidential campaign is based on "turning everything possible into a cultural wedge issue. ... McCain has decided to play the culture-war card. Obama may be a bit professorial, but at least he is trying to unite the country to face the real issues rather than divide us over cultural differences."-- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Making America Stupid, September 13, 2008.
Comment: Americans are already divided on a variety of so-called "cultural" issues, including abortion, taxes and spending, etc. What -- in Friedman's view -- is McCain turning into a "wedge issue" to divide Americans that there wasn't already a disagreement about?
"How will we know when a massive wave of reform and recovery and regeneration is about to take hold and renew our nation? What would it look like if such a change were beginning to build? I think we might recognize it as a sign of such change if we saw millions of young people getting involved for the first time in the political process. I think we might just recognize that if we saw that new generation casting aside obsolete and hurtful distinctions and reaching out to one another across the ancient divisions that have frustrated action in the past. ... If we saw it coming, we would recognize it by the words hope and change. Perhaps we would recognize it if we heard a young leader rise up to say we're not a red state America or a blue state America, we are the United States of America. We would know that change was on the way if that young leader reached out not only to the supporters of the other candidates in his party, but also beyond partisan lines, to Republicans and Independents, and said to us all, America, our time has come."-- Former Vice President Al Gore (D), CNN Transcript: Al Gore Endorses Barack Obama, June 16, 2008.
"For too long, now, Washington has been consumed by a hyper-partisanship that treats every serious challenge facing us as an opportunity to trade insults; disparage each other's motives; and fight about the next election. For all the problems we face, if you ask Americans what frustrates them most about Washington, they will tell you they don't think we're capable of serving the public interest before our personal and partisan ambitions ... Their patience is at an end for politicians who value ambition over principle, and for partisanship that is less a contest of ide as than an uncivil brawl over the spoils of power. They want to change not only the policies and institutions that have failed the American people, but the political culture that produced them. ... There are serious issues at stake in this election, and serious differences between the candidates. And we will argue about them, as we should. But it should remain an argument among friends; each of us struggling to hear our conscience, and heed its demands; each of us, despite our differences, united in our great cause, and respectful of the goodness in each other. That is how most Americans treat each other. And it is how they want the people they elect to office to treat each other. ... I'm not interested in partisanship that serves no other purpose than to gain a temporary advantage over our opponents. This mindless, paralyzing rancor must come to an end. We belong to different parties, not different countries. We are rivals for the same power. But we are also compatriots. We are fellow Americans, and that shared distinction means more to me than any other association. ... There is a time to campaign, and a time to govern. If I'm elected President, the era of the permanent campaign will end. The era of problem solving will begin. I promise you, from the day I am sworn into office until the last hour of my presidency, I will work with anyone, of either party, to make this country safe, prosperous and proud. And I won't care who gets the credit."-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Four Year Vision for America, May 15, 2008.
Comment: McCain also engages in some "setting a higher standard" rhetoric, here.