"You Forgot Iraq."
Out of all the questions that Bob Schieffer asked during last night's debate in my old hometown of Hempstead, New York, he never once mentioned Iraq. Did anyone else notice that?
Iraq was by far the biggest hot button issue heading to the '02 midterms, the crown jewel in the Cheney/Bush administration's platform during the last general election in '04. Despite the need for a surge of 30,000+ additional troops, despite the massacre at Nisour Sq. by Blackwater mercenaries, despite the fetid, corrupted mess left behind by Paul Bremer, despite Abu Ghraib, despite news of arms and money gone missing, despite contractors reported to have taken billions in taxpayer dollars to not build hospitals and schools, despite the spectacular failure that Iraq has become...
...suddenly Iran is a campaign issue because of their nonexistent nukes but Iraq doesn't rate?
Pardon me if I'm wrong, but isn't Iraq and the financial toll it's inflicted on this country (over half a trillion with a Nobel Prize-winning economist claiming it could cost three trillion when all is said and done) part of the reason we're in this financial mess that's suddenly taken front and center?
Isn't Iraq the reason why we're more vulnerable to acts of terrorism both here and abroad and the reason why we have virtually no standing in the international community that had once respected us, requiring the deft foreign policy hand that a Vice President Biden would promise?
So how come Iraq doesn't rate and Bob Schieffer, instead, chose to invite McCain and Obama last night to start spitting in eachother's faces?
As predicted, McCain pretended to not care about "a washed-up terrorist" then proceeded to tell one lie after another regarding Obama's and William Ayers' alleged association, including bringing up the meme that Obama launched a campaign in Ayers' living room. (In point of fact, McCain once had a fundraiser in the home of a certain G. Gordon Liddy, one of the finest Republican terrorists this nation has ever produced.)
After the debate, Katie Couric of CBS asked several participants who were still uncommitted after the first two debates if they were leaning toward one candidate or the other. After a few responses. one man said he was leaning more toward McCain. Why? Because, he reasoned (for want of a better word), Obama didn't look very "presidential" when he had to lower himself in defense against McCain's lies about him and Ayers. It never once occurred to this dittohead that if Obama looked and sounded less than presidential in having to deign to dignify McCain's lies with a response that it was more of a reflection of McCain's rather unpresidential desperation than anything.
This is why I'm still going to wake up on Election Day in a cold sweat.
Aside from McCain taking cues from his God- and witch-fearing running mate, the debate didn't offer anything but the same broad strokes for one plan or another. McCain told the same lies ($700,000,000,000 spent on foreign aid to nations annually, Obama wants to raise everyone's taxes, blah blah blah) and Obama didn't offer to explain the "...then a miracle happens" in his various equations. For instance: How are American taxpayers going to get back our $700,000,000,000 that was just used to bail out the people who have been victimizing us?
Why should greedy and self-dealing HMO's lower their health insurance premiums just because an Obama administration would seek to negotiate with them? Is Obama really so naive as to think in all seriousness that HMO's across the land will just lower their premiums and co-pays and cut their bottom line in a meaningful measure just out of the goodness of their hearts?
How is spending yet another $860,000,000,000 going to work toward balancing the budget at the same time he's planning on cutting taxes for 95% of the country? We've almost spent that much on Iraq alone with tax cuts for everyone and we're now borrowing two billion a day from the Red Chinese just to stay solvent.
People, in my mind Obama's not the answer. He panders almost as much to the right wing and their allies as does McCain and I've pointed out how so many times that I shouldn't have to belabor the point. But we need to keep one thing in mind:
We the People, at least according to the Constitution, have the ultimate power as to who gets elected to our state and federal Congress and the White House. It is a power that we collectively share for just 12 hours every other year. Individually, that power evaporates in the few seconds it takes to fill out a paper ballot or hit a touch screen.
The people whom we elect, by constitutional mandate, will be given the power to spend our money as they see fit in good faith that they will do so by representing the will of their constituents as best as they're able. There are no state referendums asking for our permission before they spend our money.
So the few seconds of power that we actually wield only once every 730 days must be used judiciously and with the most careful and studious consideration.
Yet for people to think that McCain looked and sounded better informed and presidential despite Barack having to push back and say time and again, "That isn't true" and having to repeat his policy proposals step by step to counter McCain's falsehoods doesn't give me much hope for the future of our republic.
I have less reason to hope for it when so many tens of millions of Americans and our news outlets are alarmingly comfortable with half-forgetting that we still have 147,000 pairs of boots on the ground in the most dangerous country on earth and that, despite its financial and human toll, it shouldn't be a campaign issue at all.