The point I’m making here is that people tend to see what they want in a presidential debate. People who like McCain, like McCain. Same with Obama. It’s the people in the ever-shrinking middle who decide these things, however, and they kind of let a debate wash over them, squint their eyes and try to decide who looks more like a president. On that basis, I think Obama wins hands down. He comes off young and smart and calm, ready to lead from Day One. My kind of president.
MCCAIN comes off as an old man, badly used by the years, who’s looking for a fight. Not ready to lead on Day One and maybe not around for Day 101. But that’s just me. You have to find your own president. Good luck. Better luck, at least, than you had last time when you picked George (The Decider) Bush. That mistake just keeps on giving.
President Bush’s approval ratings are now officially lower than a snake’s belly, as we say in Texas. The latest polls say about 25 percent of the public think he’s doing a good job. (And don’t you wonder who those people are? You don’t see them walking around during the daytime.)
Interestingly enough Congress’s approval rating is even lower, less than 20 percent. There’s a reason for that. It deserves to be.
Bush at least was able to recognize that we were facing an economic crisis of historic proportions and attempted to act. It was a pathetic attempt admittedly, but he tried.
CONGRESS’S first reaction was to stand there frozen, like a deer caught in the headlight of a locomotive. Then, as though on a delayed switch, it lurched into action. Of a kind.
Facing the abyss, Congress was unable to throw a rescue line to the economy without first feeding the great Earmark god to the tune of more than $100 million in special projects. Thus fortified, Congress was able to pass legislation to save the country, if indeed it does save the country.
Look, there’s no question that some sort of bailout was necessary. When Paul Volcker, Barney Frank, Warren Buffett, George W. Bush and the editor of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page all agree on something, it’s probably the way to go. But, my God, did it have to be THIS bailout, one dripping with the afterbirth of greed?
What does it say about this country when even the most vital legislation must be accompanied by bribes to politicians facing election?
We saw the same thing when Homeland Security legislation passed out money to states for anti-terrorist projects. We were at risk, the president told us, and we had to shore up our defenses.
WHEN THE figures became public, it turned out that Indiana had the most projects funded, more than 100. Not New York, not Washington, neither Chicago nor Los Angeles—places that might actually be terrorist targets—but good old Republican Indiana.
If I hadn’t known the country was in trouble before then, that would have convinced me.
I blame the American people. They love earmarks, those unvetted projects that bring money and jobs into a congressional district or state. Oh, they say they don’t and they profess affection for the politicians who rail against them (“mavericks,” I think the technical term for them is), but only after they get that nice little post office in the center of town.
As H.L. Mencken once wrote: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
We seem to be getting it. Don Kaul is a 2-time Pulitzer Prize-losing Washington correspondent who, by his own account, is right more than he’s wrong. email@example.com
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