Tonight’s debate is likely to include spirited sparring over the two U.S. presidential candidates’ economic plans – after McCain does his obligatory shtick about Barack Obama’s “link” to former radical Bill Ayers. After all, nobody is going to keep a job or pay the rent because Obama once belonged to the same board of directors as Ayers, and everyone with two ears must already have heard how Ayers tried to blow up public buildings when Obama was 8 years old. By now, everyone must also know that Ayers was rehabilitated a long time ago, and is a college professor and do-gooder in South Chicago. And, yes John, we have all heard… Obama’s middle name is Hussein.
I know McCain promised his radical-right supporters that he would “take off the gloves,” but I can’t believe that his best shot would be repeating the name calling that his silly sidekick, Sarah Palin, has indulged in recently. All Obama has to do is look him in the eye and say, “You’ve known me for a while, John. Do you really think I’m a terrorist?” That should let the hot air out of McCain’s balloon.
It will be tempting for Obama to talk about John McCain’s links to Charles Keating and the criminal connections of Cindy McCain’s father and uncle. He could remind viewers of Sarah Palin’s affection for the Alaska Independence Party – or even mention that William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist whom McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, lobbied for Saddam Hussein. But I doubt these charges matter in today’s political environment. In this election, once again, it’s the economy, stupid!
Sure, McCain is going to bring up “the surge.” He is going to say that he was right about it when everybody else, especially Obama, was wrong. If I were Obama, I wouldn’t even argue. I would (graciously) concede that the surge seems to have done some good, after all, and that McCain deserves credit for predicting that it would. But I would add that if McCain hadn’t voted for the Iraq War in the first place, none of that would have been necessary. (Let McCain have his tiny triumph, Barack. Nobody in their right mind cares about that now.)
What Americans want to hear is how these guys plan to get the country’s economy back on track after eight years of insanity under the direction of George Bush (pictured with McCain at right). I’ve listened carefully to the candidates’ ideas, some of which overlap (Obama said he would suspend the income tax on unemployment benefits and McCain said, “Me, too!”). And it seems to me that there’s a key difference between their plans: Obama proposes spending some of the government’s billions (which have been so readily available for the fat cats who brought down the financial system) on programs that would create jobs for working stiffs. McCain proposes tax cuts for investors (such as seniors on the brink of cashing in their retirement plans).
Here’s the question I have for John McCain: What good is a tax break if you’re not making any money? And, believe me, with McCain in the White House – continuing the ruinous Bush policies that brought America to its knees – very few people would be making any money.