Neither of the presidential candidates showed us the bacon Tuesday night in the first of three national debates. Mitt Romney was more aggressive than to be expected, but he was in outer space on some of his “facts.” Barrack Obama looked like he’d rather be at dinner with his wife on their anniversary. Let’s pray the future “debates” -- these were not such -- show us the money. Re-runs of “West Wing” would have been more exciting.
Unfortunately for an American electorate so very concerned about a dwindling middle class, poor job outlook, exponential health-care costs and expensive military involvement that sends home stricken warriors but does not end corruption nor foster democracy, Obama and Romney were talking heads. Each argued poorly, invoking the same, old unfruitful Democratic and Republican rhetoric that has little to do with reality. These were two policy wonkers, and you wanted to send each to a time-out corner for not getting to any point except endless posturing.
Better this debate should have been held in a deserted factory in Detroit, or on a New York City street corner where the homeless gather around fire in an old oil drum, or on an Afghanistan road where bombs take out our military, or in an overcrowded classroom where textbooks are years old and too many students wait for help that will never come. Instead, the stage was well-lit, the candidates in spiffy suits, makeup applied, question-and-answer rehearsals having taken place. Where was reality?
Reality is Main Street, USA. Reality is the ordinary American holding his head in his hands at the kitchen table. Reality is job loss. You see tears now, in the households where the unemployed sit for two years or more, from college graduates without hope, from those who bought into the American Dream only to have it dashed by an economy built on the middle class and now controlled by entrenched politicians who ignore that class in favor of lobby money.
The many in America today know full well that Congress and the presidency are damaged systems, and great change must come if the nation is to survive. Special interests rule the roost, and the people’s voice must rise in volume against them. Otherwise we will continue to have polished-up candidates who talk a line but do not walk it. We need a person of courage to tell it like it is.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.