Oh, the horror, the horror, of petty distractions in a presidential campaign. It gets voters away from real issues, diverts them from what an awful job the current administration and Congress have done on any number of subjects.
Rather than talking about what or whom Barack Obama was referring to when he called McCain's "change" smokescreen "lipstick on a pig," here are a few vital subjects both candidates and the media can focus on.
-- The middle-class is falling behind in a big way. That means household income is not outpacing inflation. How do the candidates propose to battle that? I don't care how much foreign policy experience Joe Biden has or how many moose Sarah Palin has shot, this is the number 1 economic issue facing Americans. How do they propose to close the gap?
-- Why no mention of Medicare? It will be insolvent within the next seven years if nothing is done. How will it be rescued? Higher payroll taxes? Lower benefits? How about throwing out that wretched "doughnut hole" drug plan and starting over by having the program accept the lowest bids possible from the pharmas instead of subsidizing this crock of a benefit?
-- The housing market is getting worse. Foreclosure destroys homeownership, communities, banks and builders. It's not the right answer, no matter whom you blame. Properties that sit unoccupied invite vandalism and blight. If the candidates want this to continue, they will contribute to the ghettoization of entire zip codes. What Congress has done in their various bailouts (including Fannie and Freddie) have been laughable. They should be telling us how they will keep people in their homes to refinance.
-- What will they do to create jobs? I know Obama wants to create "green" employment through building up the alternative energy industry. McCain wants to drill for more oil and offer modest incentives for alt-e. Neither has a plan that's audacious enough to create an Apollo-style program to reshape the economy by greening it. Japan, Germany and most of Europe are already there with their national policies. China is rushing into the game. What leadership can we offer? Can they at least read Thomas Friedman's new book (or his column today www.nytimes.com)?
-- How about a bold plan? At least T. Boone Pickens, the Texas billionaire and hedge fund manager, is willing to say that wind and natural gas are part of the energy solution and is putting some money behind his proposal. I met T. Boone on Monday (shook his hand), and believe me, he's getting more press than either candidate on energy reform. This winter natural gas and electricity prices will rise, who knows what will happen to oil and gasoline and Detroit is falling off the map.
-- A meaningful theme. "Change" as a theme doesn't mean anything to me. Washington has become a revolving door for lobbyists and corporate interests. "Reform" won't happen until someone dares to challenge this system. Real change means creating a new economy.
So let's forget about pigs and cosmetics for now. It's time to bring home the bacon on substantial ideas that will help the country out of its malaise.