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The Town Hall Debate: Political Business as Usual

At least neither of them told us to go shopping. Not that we have the money to shop with.

The Great Depression got a mention in the second, not-so-great presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. So, even, did Herbert Hoover. But there was no Franklin D. Roosevelt on the stage at Belmont University in Nashville.

A questioner from Chicago who lived through the Depression and the Second World War demanded to know why Americans haven’t been asked for any genuine sacrifice since those made by her own generation. Well, God love her, as Joe Biden would say.

I’ve been wondering the same thing as the financial crisis has cascaded around us, and few -- if any -- politicians have mentioned that the have-it-all, have-it-now craze infected not just Wall Street kingpins but millions of credit-happy, average Americans. And, of course, officeholders in both parties who obliged their every whim.

Obama and McCain both refused to budge from any of their expensive promises for tax cuts and spending, though pretty much all the pledges made during this campaign are going to have to be re-thought, if not shelved, no matter who becomes president. McCain came closer to straight talk when he said there are “some programs” that will have to be eliminated. He conspicuously failed to name them. Obama mentioned President Bush’s insulting call for Americans to shop after the terrorist attacks of 9/11-- but the single sacrifice he asked the majority of us to make was to “think about” how we’re using energy.

So this seems to be the not-so-New Deal for a generation faced with the worst economic crisis in memory: It looks remarkably similar to political business as usual.

By Marie Cocco  | October 7, 2008; 11:11 PM ET
Categories:  Cocco  | Tags:  Marie Cocco  
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Surprised McCain didnt drop the F bomb during the debate, like he does in this video

Take Part in a national poll at They want to know what you thought of the debate.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 7, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

So I just saw a new poll come out....Dream tickets for the president. Huckabee/Palin comes out 5 to 1 over McCain/Palin. Perhaps the RNC should switch out McCain for Huckabee, they might have a better chance at the white house this year cause I just can't see Obama loosing at this point. The problem is news stations are already calling the race for Obama.....switch it up and have a chance, or should we all stay home and just let Obama take the white house?

see poll at

Funny Huckabee was just recently named Featured Debator of the year by, ironic that McCain would bomb so bad right after the runner up wins debater of the year.

Posted by: pastor123 | October 7, 2008 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Head of State

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

"That One"

What a very odd thing for McCain to say.

McCain repeatedly invoked the need for a "steady hand on the tiller" tonight--for someone who will be calm and cool in the crises that the upcoming years will present us.

Yet this is a man who is utterly unable to contain his contempt--even on a night when, even as Bill Bennett says, he needed to "break through", and even when such a strange expression of disdain could only highlight pettiness, anger and partisanship that voters wish that candidates would steer away from in the greater interest of the nation.

McCain's fundamental position--one from which he finds his momentum and meaning--is so often one of a contemptuous anger for those who do not understand what he believes he has learned--e.g., "them".

This is the impulsive, gut-driven, black and white thinking that we have seen throughout the campaign.

We have had 8 years of a President driven by impulsive, black and white, gut-driven, categorical thinking. In those 8 years, from a position that manifested from the very start an angry, assumed knowledge, and a contempt for the position of others, we have now seen the results.

So this time: choose that one.

Head of State

Posted by: robthewsoncamb | October 7, 2008 11:52 PM | Report abuse

So, the government spent about $100B earlier this year giving us all checks for $600. Then we bailed out banks and Freddie and Fannie for a couple hundred billion, and then the latest $700B. Tack on another $500B per year for Iraq and where does that have us? DEBT.

Neither candidate is talking about reducing the debt. The only candidate that is talking about smaller government and no bailouts is Bob Barr. Unfortunately, the Commission on Presidential Debates has set the criteria to be involved in debates as "polling 15% in 5 major polls". This rule will keep ANY third party candidate out of debates. Almost no poll ever includes candidates names. It's usually:

We should have Bob Barr included in these debates so that the American public can hear a real alternative to the McBama plan.

Posted by: AndyMN | October 8, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I, too, am still waiting for the leader who will have the courage to tell us the hard truths. Who will call us out on our unsustainable, careless lifestyle. We've become addicted to cheap credit, cheap oil, and cheap goods from Asia... a pretty mirage of bubbles that we can watch burst one by one.

Obama's urging to "think about the energy we consume" is vague, but important if we consider "energy" to be what fuels our vehicles, electricity, bodies and agricultural systems. Our decisions about all these things have vast implications both for good or ill.

I do think that a straight-talking, charismatic leader could win the hearts of the American people by preaching a "live simply/help others/realize we're all interconnected" message (after all, this is nothing foreign to any religious doctrine), but I doubt the corporate/governmental powers would ever allow such a leader to ascend.

We need to get back to basics; have strong, viable, local economies - complete with local food sources. We should have a president who will plant a vegetable garden on the front lawn of the White House.

We need to downsize. Tighten your belts, America! Is that really so awful? Why are we so afraid to hear that message?

Posted by: mendelwhite | October 8, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Vegetable garden at the White House, there's a great idea. I recall Jimmy Carter ask that the lights be turned off, that there were to be no more elite breakfast or free lunches for the representatives. They balked at him too. As someone pointed out in another comment column, 2 minutes isn't enough time to really explain a plan, what you will do when you take office. Also, neither one of these men knows exactly what they will find in the closets when they take over the office. I do feel that this country needs someone who had to make his way in the world. Someone who knows how it feels to be poor and discriminated against. A person who has been on the golden road all his life, except perhaps when prisoned, does not know the struggles and road blocks of the middle class. Whom ever takes this high post must put US first, because until this country is back on it's feet and prosperous we are vulnearable to the rest of the world. Repeal the trade agreements with foriegn countries unless they are willing to pay the import taxes, repeal the export agreements if we are penalized by their system. Stop mortgaging our infrastructures to foriegn countries. Bring the out sourced jobs back home, and create new jobs and make this country what our grandparents worked so hard for us to have and continue for our children, not foriegners and their children. Vote against more of the same. Vote out career politicians who only think of themselves and their pals pocket books. Take the corruption out of Washington and give the people the rights given to them in the constitution.

Posted by: fedupmiddleclassmom | October 8, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

This is the first time I've read a post by Cocco. I don't know if she favors democrats or republicans, and I like the fact that I can't tell that from her post. How rare!

She points out my favorite moment of the debate - the question about what an average American should do to sacrifice in times of hardship. A few years back, after hearing so much hype about being patriotic and seeing the yellow "support our troops" stickers on cars, my wife and I discussed what it actually means to support our troops. We were frustrated and surprised to see how our country behaved at a time of war. It wasn't like I'd expected, the "guns & butter" in WWII history lessons. We chose to get in touch with a soldier through one of the many charitable programs, and have enjoyed that contact. It is a small effort to understand how people in our country are affected and to keep them in our minds.

Unfortunately, "Patriotism" and "support our troops" have been redefined recently as "support war". For a civilian, I believe the most patriotic thing we can do is understand our countries issues and challenge those in office to make the right decisions. It's too easy to neglect that duty when we are not personally affected.

Posted by: IndependentOpinion | October 8, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I am a liberal and a democrat. But, I want the president of my country to be selected based on merits, and not by an overwhelming bias, and propaganda. I don't understand why the media (almost all of them) and liberal-leaning papers like WP, NY Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, etc jump all over, when William Ayers or Tony Rezko's connections with Barack Obama is discussed. After all, if Obama does not have anything to worry, is it not welcome that this thing comes out in the open. Should Obama be protected from any criticism? Didn't the media push us into the Iraq War? They failed us once, and fail us again. In 2000 election, it was painful for me to see the media glowing over Bush as the savior of White House's "integrity" and "morality". We know what we got. Now, it is the media's turn to brainwash everyone into believing Obama has done nothing wrong, and will do none. Please don't push your agenda on us. If there is a story about Obama and Ayers, investigate it, explain it. Don't attack those who bring it in the open. In fact, before Palin talked about it or Clinton brought it, the media should have done that. We don't believe in Hannity. We want YOU to do it for us. Ask Obama why he associated with Ayers, Wright, and Rezko so long and in so much depth. Let the world know what he has to say. Don't push Obama into the White House. Let him earn it. We deserve that, and you (the news media) need to earn that respect, by asking tough questions to Obama too. Don't be a propaganda machine for any party or any candidate. The reason I am a Democrat is because of the dislike I have for right-wing loud mouths. We don't need left-wing cover-up machines. If you believe Obama is good, he'll come out clean. BUT DON'T COVER IT UP.

Posted by: ronniesmith123 | October 10, 2008 3:05 PM | Report abuse

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