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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The new American Dream

Oil has topped $113 a barrel and gasoline is pushing to $4 a gallon. Food prices are out of control because the cost of basic materials like flour is rising (in part to make ethanol to counter rising fuels prices.) People are losing their homes retirement nest eggs and Congress is bailing out Wall Street, not Main Street.

Internationally, the death toll has topped 4,000 and the price tag rises for a war that will bankrupt our children's children. Our troops are exhausted, forced to serve extended tours in sandy hells for a war without end because there has never been a strategy. America's leaders sit in the White House and choreograph torture. Our Constitution resembles so much toilet tissue in the hands of George Bush and his friends.

As Dick Cheney would say, so?

With all these serious problems facing the American people, wouldn't it be nice to have an honest national debate about how we got here and what we can do to get out of it?

Instead, we are "treated" to an endless litany of what will likely be the key issues on which the 2008 campaign will be fought: Is Barack Obama an elitist and is Hillary Clinton a mean shrew.

In one sense, you couldn't blames ABC Newsmen Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos for pursuing a lengthy line of questions designed to tell us about who these people are when the makeup comes off and the lights go out. For more than 40 years, presidential campaigns have been fought on this battleground.

And with the crises facing a nation after seven years of George Bush and a Congress still dominated by the Republicans ability to stifle action through Senate supermajority rules, it's likely this one will be fought the same way.

Acrimony is the best selling product in American politics. Divide and conquer. Pander to the base. John McCain's team is heavy into oppo research so he can change the subject when his record and that of his GOP colleagues gets put on the table. Or maybe he can keep it off the table altogether.

So we are treated to a dress rehearsal on who is the bigger elitist -- Barack Obama by his accurate but poorly phrased statement about how wedge issues have been used to divide and conquer -- or Hillary Clinton, whose ill-phrased retort about "sitting home and baking cookies" would be dragged out by McCain if Obama didn't.

Wouldn't it be nice if the candidates were put on the spot about how they would realistically end America's Iraqi horror show -- a solution that will come somewhere between immediately and 100 years?

Or asked to explain what safeguards are necessary to prevent predatory financial tactics aimed at earning billions in bonuses for Wall Street without regard to the damage they can do to average Americans? Or how we can fix the damage caused by those predatory practices, damage that now threatens people in the homes and in their retirement as Wall Street bleeds billions.

Or asked about how public officials should be held accountable to the Constitution they will be swearing to preserve, protect and defend and how they will restore the luster to America's reputation in the world as a moral leader?

But Gibson and Stephanopoulos instead chose to focus almost half of a two-hour "conversation" about who is tougher and who is the bigger elitist. Fiddling and diddling as Johnny Most might have said.

By electing president on standards like who we would rather have a beer with, we ignore the problems that we face. Our politicians adapt to this and throw up a smoke screen or glad-handing bonhomie. Once in two generations someone tries to rise about it and gets slapped around by the political-media complex for not playing by their rules.

We deserve better than this. But until it changes we will continue to elect candidates like George Bush and sink deeper into the mud.

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Anonymous adamg said...

I think you let those two grinning monkeys they call "respectable journalists" off too easily. They were obviously playing the journalism equivalent of "The Aristocrats" - Who can ask the stupidest, most off the wall question? Sorry, Charlie, but Stephanopoulos clearly won, by asking Obama TWICE if Wright loves America more than him.

Gah, it was nauseating. Doubly so for my wife, who watched because has doubts about Barama and wanted to hear where he stood on actual issues.

April 17, 2008 8:52 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

The more I read (you don't think I actually watched that horror show?) the more I agree I let them off too easily.

I do think there should be conflict-of-interest disclaimers every time George meets Hillary.

April 17, 2008 6:17 PM  

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