Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A President for a Time of Panic

Barack Obama and John McCain will be debating tonight as the inertia that has always given American society stability, albeit at the price of slow social change, is endangered by a sudden plunge into economic turmoil and uncertainty. Ironically, neither of the voters' possible choices is designed to calm them.

Not since 1932 has the electorate been so roiled by fear of the future and so hungry for change. Yet, in Obama, they face someone relatively new and unfamiliar and, in McCain, an all-too-familiar connection to policies that have failed and, to compound their worries, a volatile temperament.

In the Depression, Republicans tried to tar Franklin D. Roosevelt as a radical who would raise taxes, as they are picturing Obama now but with the added edge of distorting his positions on issues such as health care and questioning his patriotism.

The rougher attacks are coming from the gee-whiz he-pals-around-with-terrorists lies of Sarah Palin, but McCain is hitting similar notes with such innuendo as today's "What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama?"

Obama himself is pointing out the desperation of these personal attacks yet sadly but understandably responding with an on-line reprise of McCain's Keating Five lapses.

But public panic requires something more and better than that. Obama should be visibly and vocally rallying the best minds--the most respected economists and the real-world experts such as Warren Buffet, Mike Bloomberg et al--to start working on a long-range plan with measures to implement in January that would start lifting America out of its fiscal abyss.

He doesn't have to give it a name like the New Deal, but he should be telling voters in as clear and strong a voice as FDR did that he is ready to use nation's best brains to ease their pain and get the country working again. That's what they want to hear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. He knows with the financial problems our country faces a good, solid plan will help him when he becomes president. Tonight he should also tell the American people that McCain's plan flies in the face of all that is healthy and correct for the middle-class who are in the majority here. Giving to the rich all of the benefits is not something our country can handle for 4 more years. McCain says Obama is going to raise taxes but he always leaves out that it will be for McCain and wealthy people like him. If necessary, Obama should bring a chart with him tonight so people can see what he offers and what McCain offers. That will shut McCain up like a clam.