Bob Franken

Campaign Distraction

January 22, 2008
Campaign Distraction (Bob Franken)
@ 12:33 pm

For entertainment value it was hard to beat the Monday-night hissing match. It may end up being one of the few times in history that the sympathy figure was the white guy. John Edwards struggled for attention, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama dumped on one another. For good measure, Obama went after that other guy , the ex-president-turned-political hit man, Bill Clinton.

While Bill is doing his Spiro Agnew imitation, while Hillary and Barack duke it out and while John Edwards heckles damn near everyone, all we really see is sparks, very little illumination.
But look no further than Monday morning’s New York Times if you want some light shone on one of the campaign’s most important issues, our gone-to-hell-in-a-handbasket economy.

In an interview with the Times, Hillary Clinton was displaying some of the policy substance and experience that she’s always bragging about. In the process she engaged in the kind of “big picture” discussion that usually gets drowned out by the pettiness of the day-to-day election screeching.

She was describing the fundamental changes she would try and impose on the the relationshp between the public and private sectors, and the haves and have-nots. Actually what she was espousing was a return to a strong role in the nation’s commerce for government, labor unions and other institutions.

She would utilize public works projects to provide employment and would rejigger taxes to take more from the rich and provide for the poor and middle class.

In the last decade or two, our country’s corporate and financial terrain has resembled an economic Wardistan, a nearly lawless state where the strong routinely take away from everyone else.

Hillary Clinton has laid out in simple terms her vision for reordering priorities, and the emphasis she’d place on closing the gap between haves and have-nots in this country.

My purpose here is not to take sides in the issues she raised. I seriously doubt if anyone paid much attention, even though she was getting to the core of our system.

That IS my point. None of us focuses on that kind of discussion. All we seem to notice is the “he-said-she-said,” who-snapped-at-who crap.

Even when our economy is in the toilet, a reasoned debate, about how we got to this point and how we get out, seems to be a waste of effort. No one wants to hear about that kind of thing.

It’s exactly what we all do need to hear. Maybe it’s time that we in media find imaginative ways to seriously present these matters in ways that grab people’s interest, and maybe it’s time for us voters to seriously consider them.

Granted, it’s much less work to just go for the simple-minded campaign Roller Derby play-by-play, but we are in trouble. We need to decide who has the best plan to get us out of our mess. Otherwise we’ll just sink even deeper into history’s quicksand

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