Mea culpa. I am just not very good at this campaign stuff. Those much more adept than I pulled me, along with most of America, into talking about Sarah Palin rather than the real problems we should be discussing, so I admit my error and am making amends by returning to what is real. I wish the candidates would as well – especially Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin who seem to have decided issues don’t matter.

I will only list two of what I think are major problems that could use some serious thought and debate:

1. Our economy, despite yet another government bailout, is seriously overburdened with debt, both governmental and personal. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that our national debt this year will leap to $407 billion. Foreclosures continue to engulf hundreds of thousands of Americans in devastating losses and debt from which many will never recover. Credit card debts has reached levels that make many one bad illness away from bankruptcy.

Where are the plans for brining fiscal responsibility to the table? What would the candidates do to rebuild the economy, convince Americans to reject runaway consumerism, and bring our budget back to a positive balance?

What can or should be done, in the candidates opinions, about the growing shift of wealth to the very richest of the rich?

2. The so-called “war on terror” is failing miserably. Forget this schoolyard taunting about the “surge” and let us engage in some serious discussions. We are turning more and more young people around the world into potential terrorists by our misplaced reliance on bombs and weapons that end up killing so many civilians that we have lost nearly all credibility with the people we said we wanted to winnow from terrorism.

In Afghanistan repeated “miscues” have maimed and injured thousands upon thousands of women, children and men who were doing nothing more than existing in the wrong spot with an American rocket blasted them to bits. We have failed to rebuild the infrastructure we promised them in exchange for all this bloodlust. We have repeatedly acted just like the Soviets we helped them eject and forced the people to return to harvesting the largest opium crop in history.

In Pakistan we are contributing to the instability of the government now headed by a self-avowed madman by repeated cross-border bombings and incursions. We placed all our marbles with Gen. Musharraf and then failed to back that up with a broad-based attack on the real causes of jihadism.

Here at home the former 9/11 commission members report that we have failed to act responsibly to prevent attacks on our chemical, nuclear and biological weapons systems. We are apparently meant to be satisfied that all is well now that we have to remove our shoes at airport gates.

So can we move beyond the diversions of this campaign and make certain each of the four candidates answers how they would address these two issues, in depth and with some real insight into how they propose to govern the nation? Can we please get some help in this from the press, especially those who get on-air interview time with the candidates?

Let’s get this back on track to what is real and focus on our future, less on their personal pasts.

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