Anybody got any real solutions?

Bathed in the hot air over Sarah Palin’s pores, Barack Obama’s neighbor, 1960s radical William Ayers, and John McCain’s ties to disgraced financier Charles Keating, we seem to be in danger of forgetting what is at stake Nov. 4.

Yes, yes, I know that in the last days of a hotly contested election, the campaigns typically get even nastier.

But because we have lost trillions of dollars from our savings and retirement accounts, because one of every six mortgages is higher than the value of the house, because of the steep plunge of the stock market, because jobs are disappearing and because we haven’t a clue as to what shoe will drop next, I’d humbly suggest we have bigger things to worry about than overpaid consultants scare tactics.

I’m upset that the candidates want me to get upset about Newsweek’s non-airbrushed close-up of Palin on its cover, the 40-year-old crimes against society of Ayers, a nutty radical turned university professor, Obama’s middle name and votes by both Obama and McCain against funding the troops because various bills did or did not have a timeline to end the war in Iraq.

And I think it is demeaning to all of us for the candidates to continue calling each other a liar and misrepresenting the others votes, actions and associations.

True, the financial crisis is complicated. It’s easier for crowds to get fired up by bigoted chants and demagoguery than by explanations of the bailout bill, pledges of fiscal responsibility or discussions of Americas new role in a chaotic world.

But here are a few things we should think about before we vote:

The next president will name an economic team that will have to fix the worst financial mess most of us will ever witness and keep us out of all-out depression. Who are the next economic gurus?

Most of us do not understand derivatives, securitized mortgages and SEC regulations, but the next president should. He, and his vice president, must be smart enough to grasp the nuances as various sides try to sway him on policy decisions. We need a quick study who will make measured, wise decisions.

The next president will get us out of Iraq. It will be extremely important that this is done carefully. We must have leadership that takes into account that how we leave Iraq will mark the region for years.

The next president probably will get us deeper into Afghanistan. This did not work well for the British or the Russians. We need a leader with a sense of history and a vision for our country’s future. And what will happen with Iran and North Korea?

With this Congress having insured that we have to spend more than $1 trillion bailing out sinking firms and with a current national debt of $10 trillion, how can we afford a big tax cut? Yet both candidates are proposing them.

How should we give 47 million Americans health insurance? Is McCain right to proposing taxing us for employer-provided insurance? Can we afford Obama’s promise that the average family will pay $2,500 less a year for premiums?

Should we buy into McCain’s plan to pay mortgage lenders with tax dollars for the full value of bad loans? Is it too late to implement Obama’s plan to crack down on fraudulent lenders?

McCain vows that we have to change the culture in America. What does he mean by that and how would he do it?

The next president will likely nominate one or two new Supreme Court justices. Do we want a more conservative court, a moderate court or a liberal court?

Mr. McCain, Barack Obama is not a bad or unpatriotic person; stop insisting we don’t know the real Obama. Mr. Obama, John McCain is not an erratic cliche.

Back to the future, guys. Talk about solving our real problems.


(Scripps Howard columnist Ann McFeatters has covered the White House and national politics since 1986. E-mail amcfeatters(at)