On the night of the first presidential debate, I shrieked when Barack Obama said in response to John McCain’s suggestion of a spending freeze to alleviate our financial crisis, “The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel. There are some programs that are very important that are under-funded. I want to increase early childhood education and the notion that we should freeze that when there may be, for example, this Medicare subsidy doesn’t make sense.”
In response to McCain’s suggestion of considering a spending freeze except for “the caring of veterans, national defense, and several other vital issues,” Obama had the audacity to suggest increases for government preschools. Then he suggested cutting the military budget: “Let me tell you another place to look for some savings. We are currently spending $10 billion a month in Iraq when they have a $79 billion surplus. It seems to me that if we’re going to be strong at home as well as strong abroad, that we have to look at bringing that war to a close.”
Apparently, for Obama, government preschools will make us “strong at home.”
I had received a call from a friend that afternoon asking if I could give her a ride to our usual Friday night activity of contra dancing. She could not find gas to buy in the Atlanta area — even at $4.20 a gallon. On my seven-mile drive home from work, I passed a dozen gas stations with their price signs blank, except for one that had a line of cars out in the street with drivers waiting to buy gas.
Here, we’re worried about being able to buy gas to get to work. Across the country, people are worried about losing their life savings and their homes. Some say that this is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
And Barack Obama wants to increase spending on government preschools.
I anxiously awaited commentary on this absurdity from the pundits lined up on Fox News.
Nothing on CNN or MSNBC either. In fact, many commentators, even conservatives, opined that Obama won the debate in terms of style and effectiveness. Why? He said “middle class” numerous times, while McCain did not. McCain failed to connect with Middle America, they said. In fact, the Obama campaign has released an ad with an announcer saying, “Number of minutes in debate: 90. Number of times John McCain mentioned the middle class: zero.”
But despite his repetition of the phrase, and the recently acquired flag lapel pin, Barack Obama is not appealing to the middle class or to Middle America.