Last Night in St. Paul: Déjà Vu

Déjà vu. In 1992, while managing economic policy for Bill Clinton's campaign, I recall watching the Republican Convention in happy disbelief. For days, the gabfest had veered sharply and angrily to the right; and then, when George H.W. Bush accepted his renomination, it took him 26 minutes to get to the economy, the central issue of that campaign, which he talked about for perhaps five minutes. He didn't get it, and neither did John McCain last night. It took him even longer to get to the deep, economic concerns of a majority of Americans, and then devoted about three minutes to jobs, wages, the housing bust, globalization, trade, debt, and the rest. He doesn't get it either.

Another aging, career politician out of touch is hardly news. But another president who doesn't understand or much care about what's happening to most people in our economy would have serious long-term consequences for the real prospects of tens of millions of American families. And deteriorating conditions for most could well undermine public support for the measures that a responsible president will have to take over the next generation - including broad based IT training for all workers; universal access to post-secondary education; a major national commitment to 21st century infrastructure, including universal broadband and climate-friendly light rail system in most major metropolitan areas; a national commitment to aggressively support and promote R&D in climate friendly technologies and fuels, and support to broadly deploy the new technologies and alternative fuels; new cost-control provisions to slow rising health care costs as we provide universal access to health care insurance; and more.

Somehow, none of this made its way into John McCain's acceptance speech, which is only the most recent evidence that he doesn't have what we need in our next president.