09/21/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Tragic Campaign: Our Last Chance

John McCain's economic programs are so meaningless and damaging they require new adjectives. Absurd won't do.

But Barack Obama's campaign is tragically modest. A soft kiss on the cheek for those in trouble. And it could cost him the election. More to the point, it will cost America its future.

His diagnosis is not built genuine analysis -- he chooses centrist economists to provide him research he seems to think objective, even scientific. Rather, it is built on what is perceived as politically plausible.

That is how Clinton formed his policies. Even if times are bad and we are neglecting our assets, only tell the voters what they want to hear. A little push here, a little push there. But don't worry, the age of big government is over. Democrats gave us the Democratic Leadership Council and The Third Way, organizations bankrupt of ideas and guts.

In fact, America is in far deeper trouble than Obama or his advisers dare to think. It has been living off of past brilliant government, investment in science, management, manpower, education, its highway system, and its great water and sanitation systems. It's also been living off of low oil prices and an unusually and misleadingly high dollar.

Wages have been crummy in America since the 1970s, not only in the 2000s. Educational quality is highly unequal. There is no serious nationwide pre-k program in a world in which other nations have or will have one. Americans are no longer getting more schooling on average; other nations are.

Transportation and healthcare are stunningly inefficient. Respected observers say the nation has to spend $200 billion a year to repair and get transportation up to speed. No one is talking about more than $50 billion a year or so.

We spend so much on inefficient healthcare, it leaves little or nothing for other requirements. It is our biggest problem. As big as anything the nation has ever faced. It will get worse.

Then there is energy. It is not time for compromise on offshore drilling. We need big programs.

There are solutions, but not if we don't raise money. What are Obama's people taking about instead? Modest tax cuts for the middle class! Right out of the Third Way playbook. It is nonsense, tragic nonsense. It will backfire.

Americans will put up a little more tax money to solve its serious problems if they are asked. They are willing to share in the pain. If they understand such tax money will be spent to make them better off, relieve their concerns, save their future.

I just can't believe this emphasis of Obama's on minor tax cuts. Now is the time to be bold and maintain the courage of one's convictions.

Obama seems convinced equanimity is the answer. Cut a compromise. The problems are too deep and wide. (The same is true in foreign policy.) Obama's falling behind the curve. The people sense it.

This is not a class room. It is not a mere conversation. It is a battle for the truth and the future. It may be our last chance.