Issues 2008

This morning a New York Times editorial tells us something we already know: Campaign 2008 has turned into a brickbat hurling contest.

So far this year, the attacks have been more pinpointed and less sweeping than the low-blow Swift Boat ads of 2004. But we fear these slurs are the harbinger of a more offensive and widespread onslaught to come. It’s ominous that one anti-Obama producer — notorious for the racist Willie Horton attack ads on Gov. Michael Dukakis 20 years ago — is planning a campaign falsely “revealing” Mr. Obama as a Muslim.

The best way to assure that free speech is not despoiled by hate mongering would be for the campaigns to make a routine, unsensational point of denouncing the ads and their creators for what they are — the product of a radical fringe that has little regard for rational debate.

The abandoning of rational debate isn’t limited to fringe groups or interest organizations but has suffused the campaigns themselves. If it were only that the candidates were appealing to the emotions of the electorate it would be quite bad enough but the position papers and stump speeches of both candidates are so full of Washington-speak, the raking up of old scores, talking points, and nonsense that it’s difficult to separate the issues within the chaff of boilerplate.

The key to our economy’s growth is not adding millions of jobs installing roof-based solar panels; we won’t maintain our prosperity with airy platitudes about the workings of the market. There is more to a foreign policy than a set of slogans.

I remain resolutely undecided. Unlike the strongly partisan blogs that made up their minds years ago based on party affiliation however much they’ve denied that would be the case or some bloggers who’ve recently decided which candidate they’d vote for, e.g. Amba and Pat Lang.

I’m deeply dissatisfied with either of the alternatives we have before us this election cycle. Sen. Obama’s resume is extremely thin. His great successes in life have been in campaigning and being elected to office rather than serving in office. We need more than inspiration; we need leadership and there’s little in Se. Obama’s resume to suggest it other than how he’s run his campaigns.

Sen. McCain has a better resume for a prospective president but there are aspects of his temperament and political beliefs that I find very troubling. And, to be honest, while I don’t think his age is dispositive it is concerning to me.

This Tuesday the election will just be four short weeks away. As an explication of my dissatisfaction, an indication of the yardstick against which I’m judging the candidates, and in the hope of starting a substantive discussion of issues in the blogosphere, over the next few days I plan to post a number of explorations of the issues before us. Here’s my planned schedule

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 Foreign policy
Wednesday, October 8, 2008  Fiscal policy
Thursday, October 9, 2008 Economic policy
Friday, October 10, 2008 Health care
Saturday, October 11, 2008 Energy policy
Monday, October 13, 2008 Conclusion

I also plan to solicit contributions from bloggers with a variety of political persuasions; I’m hoping to ignite a cross-blog conversation about the issues. Feel free to pitch in on your own blogs and drop a note in the comments here—I’ll link to all reasonable contributions to the discussion.

Please make your contributions substantive and positive. Not just the regular talking points.

31 comments… add one
  • “It’s ominous that one anti-Obama producer — notorious for the racist Willie Horton attack ads on Gov. Michael Dukakis 20 years ago”

    Uh…wasn’t that Al Gore?

  • I’d welcome your participation in the discussion, Rich.

  • Larry Link

    Just who would be prepared to take on the coming matters of economic policy, foreign policy, etc..etc..take a look outside…the sky is falling…what we need is leadership…someone who can rally the troops…in 29 days. we’ll be electing someone to do just that…I find it difficult to believe that you still have not decided on a candidate!!

    Unlike many campaigns in the past…we’ve actually had nearly two years to figure this out and most have.

    Of course the campaign has turned to the emotional, what’s going on is emotional..or haven’t you noticed..are you not the least bit nervous about what you see and read in the papers, in blogs, in any news anywhere!!

    You have to admit that this campaign has without doubt brought a great deal to light and circumstances certainly have made them pretty obvious.

    I don’t know why you are having difficulty about making up your mind…perhaps we’ve finally come to the time where the myth making of being president can finally be tossed out of our consciousness once and for all so we can actually get down to the real business of making our civilization work for all of it’s people.

    It’s been a great ride for those who have been lucky enough to have been able to take advantage, but far too many have been left behind, used and discarded..remember, there will be a lot of anger out there…if things really do collapse…there is a good chance that it will be turbulent and extremely rough going all of us.

    We need leadership and we need it badly…basically, at this stage of the game, we’ve only got two choices…and there is a difference between the two…Good luck.

  • Dave,

    In this series, will you be looking only at the top of each ticket, or at both tickets in full?

  • If the candidates won’t talk about issues I don’t see why I should. Let’s talk about flag pins, the careers of Alaska state troopers and whether Michelle Obama should wear sleeveless dresses. How else are you going to know who should run the world’s remaining (for now) superpower?

  • NYkrinDC:

    I reviewed both candidates’ positions on the issues quite a while ago. I’m planning on taking a step back from parties and positions and just considering the issues on their own.

  • Gotcha.

  • Andy Link


    I can’t remember one of your posts that I’ve been more in agreement with than this one. I’m undecided too for all the reasons you list. I’ve even started looking at third-party candidates (I have 11 on my ballot), but they are all the usual suspects.

  • Brad Link

    Foreign Policy

    It should be noted that the staid condition of geopolitics during the cold war was an anomaly. It was of sufficient length to exclude virtually all the contemporary players from America from having direct and visceral experience of with igeopolitical instability on a massive scale. Throw into the mix hyper-technology, fanaticism, monopoly money global finance, and demographic iimplosion, massive migration and you’ve got a situation beyond any candidate’s ability to manage. The issue becomes one of which candidate’s background includes familiarity with chaotic situations? All else in mute, there is no manual, no graduate school, no transnational institution that a political figure will be able to rely on. We are entering unchartered territory.

  • Might I suggest an addition: what issues should the government NOT address, despite their impact on the society at large?

  • Hiya Dave,
    Boy you sure bit off a mouthful…but an interesting one at that.

    This probably demands an in depth response, but let’s count ourselves lucky that I feel better merely raising a few points…plus, I’ve drink taken, as the old saying goes.

    But then, I usualy find I make better sense with a load on than most people do cold sober.

    You’re correct that neither one of the apes in the arena is especialy interested in dealing with the issues,but hey, it’s an election

  • (2nd part of comment that was deleted somehow)

    Right? McCain is probably the best suited out of the two…

    Anyway , a few comments on what you brought up..Please excuse any typos.

    INTERVENTIONISM: Personally,I’d love it if those stinkin’ furriners would get lost and leave us alone. They won’t, so we had best deal with the idea odf engaging with them as best we can, for our own advantage.

    A NEW STRATEGY FOR THE WAR ON TERROR:First off,stop calling it by that stoo-pid name. You strike me as being a bit smarter than the current occupant of the White House, and I wanna #@!!$! hurl everytime he uses the phrase. It’s a war on Jihad,or perhaps on Islamic fascism,and we won’t even begin to start winning it until we call it by it’s proper name, rcognize who our enemies are and deal appropriately with the nation states that fund, harbor and promote jihad against the West inboth its cultural and military forms.

    IRAN: The mullahs are NOT rational actors by our frame of reference. They do not want what we want or look at things the way we do. They have been in a state of war with us for thirty years and hold us in contempt because every time they forcefully confronted us and/or killed Americans,we’ve mostly backed off…and when they go nuclear, look for the price of oil and gas to skyrocket as they play their games. Not to mention the distinct possibility of them handing off a nuclear device to their proxies here in America like Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad.

    I know these primitive brigands, Dav-o. The sooner we make an example out of them,deal with them forcefully and pull their fangs,the better for us and the cheaper the cost.

    CHINA AND RUSSIA: Believe it or not, these two are intertwined,IMO. Russia and China have been antagonists ever since thedays of scrapping over the Amur Valley and Manchuria,and they don’t trust each other. We canuse that to our advantage. Plus, China’s economy is so dependent and interlocked with ours that the last thing they could afford is a war with us.

    MEXICO: Let’s face it Dave. It already is a failed state, and the only thing keeping it remotely together is out taking ontheir surplus population…which we won’t be able to do for much longer. A wall, better laws and then a comprehensive plan to deal with the 11 million or so already here…


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