The difference between Monty Python skits and political debates is that Monty Python was trying to be absurd.
It was utterly absurd when McCain and Obama were arguing with each other about who would provide the most in tax cuts. Next year’s deficit is projected to be as much as $1,000 billion (a trillion or a million million) and they are clamoring to cut taxes. Do they really think that we Americans are so stupid that we don’t realize that tax cuts that fuel deficits don’t make us better off? Or are they really that stupid? Can anyone pronounce “credit crisis?”
Obama had the good sense to talk about needed investments. Why Obama did not make more effort to distinguish between government spending and government investment is lost on me. The American people need to be reminded that things like the interstate highway system, the Internet, and the GI Bill were fabulous investments that more than paid for themselves. Today there are even more opportunities for such incredible investments – in everything from biology research and nanotechnology and alternative energy to transforming school systems to educate and train people able to work in such fields. And getting back to deficit spending, it was no coincidence that when deficits became surpluses in the 90s, investment and business formation boomed. Government borrowing squeezes out business borrowing. Can anyone pronounce “credit crisis?”
In an age of globalization, it is ridiculous to talk about ending reliance on foreign oil unless or until we end reliance on oil. The mix of oil we consume through free markets will always pretty much look like the mix of oil on global markets. Can anyone pronounce “credibility crisis?”
One of the odder proposals thrown out by McCain (almost as odd as his defense of the “drill baby drill” chant while claiming to be one of the early defenders of climate change initiatives) was his casual mention of a “troops to teaching” bill that would allow veterans to go right into teaching without needing those (and this said with a grimace) “credentials that they require in some states." So, having worn a uniform somehow exempts a person from the need to meet state teaching standards?
We spend the most per capita on education and health care and we rank near the bottom of the industrialized countries in measures like math and science and infant mortality. Obama’s solution to high expense and poor results in health care is more government. McCain’s solution to high expense and poor results in education is less government. I have no doubt that their plans will work.
Finally, the most absurd thing about the debate was how the first third of this debate seemed to be taken up with accusations and defense of character. This when the American people are watching a slow motion train wreck of America’s financial system, when 86% of Americans think that we’re on the wrong track. McCain seemed not to understand that the American people would be less interested in his hurt feelings than what he proposed to do to get the country back on the right track.
It seems as though McCain missed his opportunity to gain ground on Obama tonight. I am almost beginning to feel sorry for McCain, seeing various polls that suggest Obama led by 8 to 14 percent before the debate and that the percentage of undecided voters who thought he won tonight’s debate is nearly double those who thought McCain had won. But I’d much rather feel sorry for McCain than for the country that has already suffered under 8 years of Republican’s confident and cheery incompetence.