Just hours away from the debate between Senators McCain and Obama, a lot of nervous Republicans are reading the polls and are hoping for the best.
Others have some advice for the GOP, including my friend Julie, a soccer Mom from Marin County, California.....
Hello? Hey you guys! Yeah, you, in the soundproof booth labeled "McCain 'paign". I know you're busy coming up with clever put-downs and "Obama Hangs with Terrorist" soundbites, so you may not have had time to take a peek outside lately, but ... holy Toledo!
It turns out we're being sucked into a giant vortex of fear, dwindling income & savings, businesses grinding to a halt and more disasters on the horizon. This isn't even a report from the front lines, but from one of the wealthiest areas of the country --one that has lagely been immune ...until now.
Judging from the empty stores and quiet coffee shop I walked through today, there will soon enough be more layoffs and closings. No one is buying a house, and no one is selling...unless they have to. Gosh darn, it's getting pretty ugly out here and it seems like you guys are on another planet!
Fox News had a special on Sunday night about who's to blame for the current financial mess, how it started with the do-goodism during the Clinton years ("gee, shouldn't everyone have a chance to own a home?")... how there were a couple of attempts to reign in the run-away train...and how the Democrats voted against it.
Is it true McCain sponsored one of the bills to try to fix the mess? Obama took the 2nd highest amount of money from Freddie/Fannie? If I didn't know that, very few Americans do. Why the heck not? I realize it's much more complicated and there were plenty of greedy corporate types who took advantage of the loose reigns..... but for God's sake, Rome is burning....and McCain and Palin, you're out fiddling a tune against a has-been like William Ayres? I'm a political junkie soccer mom -- I do understand the dangers in an underground radical being President -- but if I don't care about Ayres while the country is crashing and burning, trust me, no one does.
If McCain doesn't take a Reaganesque leadership tone in the debate and give the country the 'straight talk' on what went down to bring on this financial crisis.... who was responsible... and the hard choices he will make to fix it, he doesn't deserve to be President.
He simply must 'paint the picture' on why the same kind of devasting 'do-goodism' that got us into this mess and its unintended consequences is exactly what Obama is promising more of. We'll see truckloads of it if Barack Obama moves into the White House: Government health care, higher taxes .... You name it, you'll pay for it! McCain needs to get mad.
After all, how many times do we have to re-learn these lessons? (insert quote from JFK here) It's not enough for Sarah Palin to get up there and say she relates to soccer moms and Joe Six Packs.
The two Republican candidates have got to have a sense of urgency about the state of the economy, they need to show leadership, take responsibility for any involvement Republicans have had for not blowing a loud whistle... and demonstrate to the country that they understand what we're seeing out here in the real world.
Consumers are putting off purchases, people are pulling money out of banks, state goverments may be defaulting, and there is a genuine state of fear that is manifesting itself in empty stores and restaurants. McCain and Palin need to quit spouting the 'smear lines' handed out by the operatives in suits and start painting a picture of the huge difference between their 'take charge' philosophy and Barack Obama's naivete... and what very different paths this country would take under both administrations.
Most importantly, they need out outline what the 'grown ups' would do to get us out of this mess, and the difference it would make to the 'Joe Six Packs' out there. I've had my turn as a common sense grassroots activist, but I threw in the political towel years ago when I realized there was no hope for California with the kind of 'inside the bubble' insiders running the GOP here. But the sense of doom in my community and the huge hit my business has taken in just the last couple of weeks has brought me out of the closet once again... anonymously this time. The "progressives" here think another 'man who brings us hope' : ) is going to be their salvation.
Currently, there is no one else offering a clear explanation of what happened and how we're getting out of this mess, so it's no wonder Obama's 'message of hope' is winning the day. Can McCain rise to challenge to communicate and be the leader we need in such a devastating crisis? Somehow I suspect if Palin were left to her own devices...she would have done so by now and this ticket would be several points ahead by now.
Alas, for now we're stuck with the same old 'back room' throw-a-punch political style with the Ayres attacks. In the end, though, a left-wing terrorist that Obama used to know doesn't hold a candle to the devastating bomb that the financial crisis has already become.
Hello? Anyone home? Is the real world coming into focus yet? I hope the soundproof walls have been cracked by the time the debate rolls around.
The past needs to be left behind, and there needs to be no doubt as to who the candidate is with the courage to communicate the importance of the choice that needs to be made -- and take us forward.