Trail Mix

As the race winds down McCain goes negative

something I never thought I’d see in America again,” says Berman, who believes the Republicans are playing with fire.” If Obama wins, Berman says, he will be leading a much more divided nation.

Citing an incident this week when someone at a Palin event cried “Treason!” in response to her criticisms of Obama, Berman adds, “She had an obligation to tell him to be quiet; instead she encouraged it. This is the kind of leadership that I think is just frightening. The collapse of the economy is such a major issue right now, and people are seeing the attacks as a distraction from the fact that McCain probably doesn’t have the right sort of answers.

At this week’s presidential debate, McCain announced a mortgage plan in which the government would buy up bad loans that left many scratching their heads for a number of reasons. Cato Institute senior fellow Michael Tanner says that a congressional plan to renegotiate mortgages has been in effect for about week and questions the need for another. In addition, McCain hasn’t offered any specifics about how to determine who would be eligible. “It’s somewhere between bizarre and absurd and makes no economic sense at all,” Tanner says. “It’s clearly driven by politics and an attempt to say he cares.”

Still, political pundits and analysts question whether either candidate has been truly honest with the American public about how dire the economic situation really is and how they propose to fix it.

“In the defense of both candidates, there’s only so much they can say because there’s only so much they know. There’s a lot of uncertainty on the part of a variety people, including the head of the Federal Reserve and prominent economists,” says University of Michigan political scientist Vincent Hutchings. “But the candidates aren’t being terribly forthcoming when they skirt the question of what sorts of sacrifices are going to be required, and these are the kinds of sacrifices that one does not have to be an economist to recognize. We are either going to have to cut spending sig or raise taxes. No politician likes to say that and voters don’t like to hear it, but it’s the truth.”

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