Back in July, before either of the conventions, we wrote that this campaign would not be close unless John McCain could offer a credible plan to change the direction of the economy. Now that the third debate is behind us, and it is too late to offer a truly new major policy direction, we know that McCain never passed this fundamental test of his qualification to lead the nation at this time of challenge.
At that time, lots of pundits were writing that it was Barack Obama that needed to pass a threshold on the Commander In Chief dimension, and many will now say that McCain was winning that debate but it was the world financial crisis that changed the subject to the economy and thus delivered the election to Obama.
Poppycock! This election was always going to be about the economy.
Yesterday the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined more than 700 points, second only in point terms to the record setting drop last Friday. But by most accounts, yesterday's drop was largely due to new economic data, on retail sales and employment, showing the U. S. economy was slowing in September, before the financial crisis broke.
That McCain entered the final months of this election without a single proposal for the economy that was not already the policy of the discredited George W. Bush Administration is nothing short of political malpractice on the part of McCain's advisors.
Barack Obama put the question directly to McCain in last night's debate challenging him to name even one area where his economic proposals differ from those of President Bush. Predictably McCain changed the subject to his differences with Bush on torture, climate change, campaign finance, etc., but not the economy.
When it comes to the economy, McCain really does have nothing more to offer than his call to make George Bush's tax cuts, and overall approach to the economy, permanent, and that, more than anything else, is responsible for his sliding poll numbers.
The authors are co-editors of CenteredPolitics.com.