The presidential candidates debated the economy Tuesday night. Just not this economy.
Both Barack Obama and John McCain clung to campaign themes conceived in another time, another place. Not the nation and world sinking into the most profound economic collapse since the Great Depression. Not the nation and world in which we reside.
Of course, both men know that they’re essentially competing to be captain of the Titantic. But they can’t let on. It’s as if the American public, like a giant gaggle of grade school kids, must be protected from all unhappy truths.
One big, fat unhappy truth is that their high toned talk about medical plans or helping out veterans or tax breaks or rebuilding the military or reforming education and all that – can’t be done.
There won’t be any money. The coffers are empty. The budget is shot. Our financial institutions have either frozen or fallen. We’re trillions in debt, bogged down in two expensive wars, and praying that China doesn’t foreclose.
It would have even been disingenuous if either of the candidates had feigned a bit of straight talk and suggested that American might be asked to make some sacrifices. Truth is, sacrifice, these next months and years and maybe even decades, is not going to be a voluntary concept. Sacrifice is about to be our hot new lifestyle.
Our financial problems have spread to Europe and Asia and bounced back again like an echo, bringing with them the most dismal years of our lives. It’s not only about to turn very bad for us. What we’ve done to our children’s prospects - thanks to our giant ho-down of deficit spending and broken economics and neglected education, is unspeakable.
But, judging from the fantasy discussion Obama and McCain held about an economy that vanished from the known universe weeks ago, their campaign strategists have decided to ban any talk of truth. Truth, in times like these, would not be a winning strategy.