Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Anyway, I'm close to full recovery from a severe cold, and intend to have something more personal and substantive tomorrow.
Talk about falling to the occasion! You would not have an inkling from the candidates’ third and final debate at Hofstra University on Long Island that Wednesday had been a day of fearful carnage on Wall Street, throwing into question the desperate efforts of the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve to stabilize the situation.
You would not have known that across the last month the Dow Jones industrial index has lost 25 per cent of its value. You would not have known that in the considered estimation of many economists the United States could well be entering a prolonged recession.
You would not have known that every assertion about the merits of deregulation and about the primacy of market forces is now dead, skinned and nailed to the wall like a moose hide in the Palins’ garage.
Listening to both candidates in that last debate made me think of one of those reverses of the earth’s electro-magnetic field that occurs every 100,000 years or so. The last month has seen the sweeping away of all the shopworn economic coordinates by which conventional politicians set their course. Gone are the hallowed landmarks. Yet here were McCain and Obama trudging on, sighting their compasses on bearings that no longer exist.
There were, to be sure, dutiful references by both Obama and McCain to the economic crisis, but mostly it was as though they were talking about a minor traffic accident a couple of blocks away. McCain flourished a proposal to bail out homeowners. Obama claimed that the bankers’ bailout bill for which they had both voted contained exactly such provisions. Then the two retreated to mechanical reiteration of their tax plans, their health plans, their plans for Energy Independence, all of them topics interminably raked over in the earlier debates.