- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

I have consistently believed that Sen. John McCain would win the presidential election despite all of the baggage he carries in attempting to succeed a justifiably unpopular and reviled sitting president of his party.

Today, I am not as confident that it will be possible for continued Republican rule to prevail, given the collapse of the economy, which surely will continue to metastasize well past Election Day.

It has often been said that the electorate votes its pocketbook, and the mantra of Bill Clinton’s brilliant 1992 campaign was: “It’s the economy, stupid.” If it is truly the economy, Mr. McCain could lose handily.

Throughout the campaign, Sen. Barack Obama has expressed empathy for and solidarity with the middle class and the poor, while his opponent has in some respects seemed oblivious to their plight.

It was not helpful when Mr. McCain recently stated that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.” This occurred as the slats of the economy were dropping all around him. It is no surprise that after conferring with his advisers, he soon sought to amend his proclamation, paying lip service to the fact that people are hurting.

Inflation has sapped our purchasing power, and gasoline remains unaffordable to many, forcing tough choices to be made as to how to diminish our standards of living. Retirements are being delayed because workers do not have enough money to live on if they leave the work- force. The police powers of government have been harnessed to force the middle class to assist in government takeovers of private-enterprise companies that collapsed because of their risk-taking and lack of prudence.

In almost every such situation, corporate raiders have made off with millions upon millions of dollars of loot as they have piloted their companies into insolvency. Is it any wonder that the average American looks at this debacle and wonders how it could have happened and why he or she is being forced to address the problem - while the robber barons are allowed to laugh all the way to the bank?

Many voters are likely to question whether it makes sense to elect Mr. McCain: He tells us that it will take a Republican in the White House to clean up the mess - a mess that has been made by a Republican in the White House.

After the glow fades from “Palinmania” and the electorate reviews the facts, the decision may be made to make a radical break with the disastrous past eight years and elect even a highly flawed Democrat like Mr. Obama as president.

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.


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