Rarely have I seen in any presidential race stretching back more than 30 years as much of a disconnect between the world of the candidates and the rest of the world that we see right now. Every day, on television and in the newspapers, the news is about Democrats squabbling – whether about race or gender or about some off-the-wall comment by a supporter.
Meanwhile, in what appears to be a different universe, the U.S. dollar is sinking like a stone, the price of gas has cracked $4 a gallon at some pumps, homeowners are going under, and star financial institutions like Bear Stears have their backs to the wall.
Would the candidates please do us – and themselves – a big favor: Would they turn attentions away from the bickering and tell us in more depth and with more attention to the rapid economic deterioration what they would do?
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have each proposed plans for the mortgage crisis but the problems now stretch far wider and deeper than their plans cover. John McCain keeps telling us that lower taxes and less regulation would do the trick – when it is obvious that the problems are much more complicated (just ask Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke).
The Democrats have a pause in the action now before the Pennsylvania primary. It will be tempting for them to keep on doing what they have been doing – barnstorming from one campaign event to the next. But they owe us something more now: Some serious talk about what their presidencies would hold and how they would govern.
John McCain, to his credit, wants to see for himself what is happening in Iraq, elsewhere in the Middle East and in Europe. He is wise to don the role of statesman while the Democrats diminish each other through their in-fighting.
But even as he looks upon the broader international horizon, he, too, owes us a much clearer, more sophisticated picture of what he would do to save the economy back home. If he were President, after all, he would have to address both at once. This would be a good time to start.
It may sometimes feel like good fun and games to have all this adolescent squabbling, but the day is coming when we will need a strong, mature adult sworn in as our next President.
- David Gergen, CNN Sr. Political Analyst
You are 100% correct. These two need to be put in the " time out " chair. Let us get back to the issues. We now have a fake upswing in the stock market as the Fed throws cash in, to bail out some of these mortgage banks and lenders. It is all fake, but as was discussed in your " Extreame Challanges" program we only do short term solutions. We need long term economic policy discussed. It took many years of bad economic policy to get to where we are now and it is going to take just as long to get us out of it. Our slide did not happen over night.
Now Congress has vetod the 1 year ban on "earmarks". I wonder why!! This is how they all get re-elected, by bringing " goodies " back to their voters.
Maybe you, Fareed and Anderson should make them watch your program " Extreame Challanges". Over and over and over again. I say you three for a tri-presidency.
That's what we Democrats get for allowing the media to choose our two "finalists." Face it, they did. And that's why this Democrat is probably going to vote for McCain – provided he doesn't pick a right-wing VP!
Thank you. Here's hoping the campaigns will heed your wise advice. I live in PA, and I long for these candidates to spend the next six weeks focusing on the serious issues and concerns that face this country. It's time for the grown-ups to be on stage, not these whiny brats that seem to grace my newspaper and television each day. When I was a young girl, my mom used to make my brother and me "kiss and make up" when we were ugly to one another. I don't expect Clinton and Obama to take it that far, but civility could go a long way toward landing a Democrat in the White House in November. If they keep this up, I fear the Bush debacle will continue for at least another four years. The only thing that will be different is the face we see in the Oval Office.
I counldn't agree more. I would love to see the commentators and pundits drop anything related to age, gender, and race and start asking candidates and their surrogates about the issue that face us all.
I think both Hillary and Barack (I favor Hillary) ARE talking issues in their stump speeches. Would more detail by both be better? Yes.
The problem is that the media pick up on these "off the field" remarks and run with them drowning out any message the candidates really give in their speeches. Whatever is broadcast from the stump speeches are the responses de jour. How about giving us more of the substance of their speeches. This important election should be more than the old "60 Minutes" Point-Counterpoint segment.
David Gergen wins the prize for the most rational person in the USA for these suggestions. The candidates are beginning to look completely disinterested in solving the most pressing problems we have.
Primary elections do not hurt a political party and this election has been a remarkably clean one. The candidates are competing for the most important office in the world. It should surprise no one that their backers occasionally go off the deep end. The press picks up the trivial and the frivilous and then blames the candidates for the way the campaign is being conducted. Let the candidates go at it. Both are intelligent, capable and responsible people which is far more than can be said of the so called journalists on cable TV whose admitted attraction is conflict and to hell with a serious consideration of the issues.
They need to come together for the Democratic party. They need to stop the infighting and move ahead with focus – I couldn't agree more. With all their millions of supporters, I don't think it's ever fair to put another's comments on another individual, even if they are part of their campaign efforts (ie Geraldine Ferraro). And it certainly shouldn't be put on the front page of CNN or other news sources. I also don't find it fair (for either of them) that the media take comments out of context or put a spin on it. Their comments or others.
While McCain now has the time to bring his party together, the Democrats should be doing the same in whatever way possible.
I know all too many people who have had enough. We want the Democrats to take back the presidency. Most people I know, if Hillary is the nominee, they will be voting for her and vice versa for Barack. Let's not cause such a divide that they'll start voting for McCain. Come on. Enough already.
Let's start talking about what really matters.
THANK YOU, Mr. Gergen!! I just hope the Clinton and Obama campaigns are reading and heeding this.
My husband and I have shared exactly this same set of thoughts with each other at least a dozen times in the last month or so, and we've both wished we could figure out how to send the message "It's the economy, stupid" to the two Democratic candidates' camps. BOTH of them. Two supposedly very smart people - Penn and Axelrod - are working furiously to enable the Dems to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and two more supposedly very smart people - Clinton and Obama - are going to let them, if not actually abet them.
At this point, I'm going to have to hold my nose to vote for either of them, but I will support whichever one is the nominee. For me, the two biggest issues are the economy and the war in Iraq, and no matter how bad these two are tearing each other down over stupid stuff, either is better than four more years on our current path. I am not sanguine, however, that there are enough like me to preventing the Democratic leadership shooting themselves in their collective foot.
I am amazed that someone like Obama's pastor was named to and to this day sits on the Obama campaign's African American Religious Leadership Council (which means he holds a similar role to Gerry Ferraro did on the Clinton campaign).
I'm with you Mr. Gergen, however, in as much as you admonish the candidates, you should absolutely blast the news media, whose inane tabloid questioning, agenda backed reporting, and tabloid gotcha tactics force the candidates to become nothing more than Hollywood celebrities fighting for air time before they get old and boring.
David, you take our pulse and get a correct reading. The economy is (underline) on life support. You tell us that the candidates need to get serious about real problems and tell us what they will do if elected, and we all agree.
Who tells the candidates to get serious?
Jane, Portland, OR
My son is a school teacher in the San Francisco Public Schools and today pink slips were mailed out to some teachers due to lack of funds for school teachers. This is just one of the many critical economic issues facing us in the near future. I had hopes for this election and a new Democratic administration coming to Washington. I don't know what is happening in the primary race between Clinton and Obama. I tend to think Clinton's advisors feel free to say anything in order for her to get elected. But as is being noted now in the media her remarks will damage Obama if he is the candidate and is damaging her reputation also. I can't bear the thought of race being an issue. Clinton seems so much like a warrior and spoiler that it is hard to remember she is a woman who may need some support. I hope people like yourself keep on speaking about the need to address the issues. I don't think we can afford a Republican president at this this time.
The Rev. Eugenia Kinney
Episcopal priest in the Diocese of California
Come on, Gergen, the media aren't going to cover the issues. The candidates take shots at each other because it keeps them in the news and relevant. If all they started talking about was the issues, you would stop covering the race with any major attention. You report the horse race and "controversy" just as much as every other reporter, so stop grandstanding.
I totally agree about these comments and that is why I am supporting Senator Obama. He has and is attempting to run campaign where the issues are the focus, however since the Clinton campaign has lost its edge, the Obama campaign has been forced to play defense against all sorts of political attacks.
By making such attacks, the Clinton campaign hopes to weaken a campaign that has attempted to play the game in a different way. The Clinton campaign has found some recent success by attacking Senator Obama and creating another campaign based on fear and negativity. The largest problem is that we, as voters, have enabled this. We decry candidates who play dirty but then allow them to have such success. It is time to start putting our money where our mouth is and vote for a different approach. Let's get back to the issues instead of the incessant negativity that the 1990s campaigns are trying to once again play.
You always hit the nail right on the head. I perfectly agree with you. It's rather unfortunate that we have not yet seen in any of these candidates, one who has the guts to tackle problems at home and abroad at the same time. We have Senator McCain with a pre-cold war mentality, and Senators Obama and Clinton acting as if all our problems are centered around healthcare and Iraq.
If we do not get great minds like David Gergen (my hero) to provoke healthy thoughts to redirect these candidates to the real issues we are facing as a country and leader of the world, we are going to be in deep trouble.
The next President is in for one heck of a term. We have enormous problems left by the current buffoon at 1600 Penn. The war is not going well and is bankrupting the country. Our fighting men and women are in desparate need of rest and rebuilding, and the world knows it. The bitter pill on Iraq may not be a discussion of whether or not we should stay, rather can we stay. Other more important missions are being neglected while that quagmire continues.
As for the economy, real problems exist. Our consumer based ecomony has maintained itself on an ever spirally debt load of our citizens and government. We are approaching the end of that story now with our financial institutions in ruins. And with the rising undemocratic forces in Russia, we are on the brink of a new cold war.
Finally, our trading partners continue to feed our addiction to cheap credit. They protect their economies through the use of dollar pegs, piracy and unfair importation practices (not always in the form of tariffs, but just as effective). The next president will have to make sure our companies have a shot at exporting before we allow importing into the US. Protectionist or not.
One thing I am grateful for is that I did run for president. The next President will face some of the most difficult challenges since Roosevelt.
David, I couldn't agree with you more regarding the infighting between the democratic candidates. What is the purpose of this childest stuff? I think perhaps, they are simply reflecting the mentally and attitude of the nation. Lets all watch as they shoot themselves in their collective foot at the expense of the countrys future. And maybe a candidate will come along to make sense of all this BS. Dave C. Michigan
Yes, that makes sense but only if the Media would focus on that instead of 5,000 articles about Ferraro and Wright. and whatever other dumb scandal du jour The reason the candidates have to keep doing this sniping is because its the only thing that gets covered. Perhaps if the media really worked to present the ideas and plans of the candidates and discuss that instead of whatever dumb statement comes out of someone associated with the campaigns we may get somewhere...
Great article. I totally agree.
Leave it to you to show it simple and smart. Enough of the same speeches and catch phrases... The differences between them, that voters really need to know, lie in their detailed plans. Let's hear it and we'll judge characters based on substance, instead of associations. As always, I look forward to hearing more from you tonight!
Well said sir. Hopefully they will hear you.
I recommend you to be the next chief of staff (experience and good judgement)
Is it too late to start a David Gergen for President campaign ?
What about an Obama Gergen ticket ?
You echo the feelings of all of us who are concerned about our economy.
I whole-heartedly agree.
I'm tired of the verbal-assault tennis. One lobs a comment and the other hits it back over.
Can we get back to the issues?
I wish they would stick to the issues. All of them have supporters that have views that they don't necessarily agree with but the opinions of those supporters have nothing to do with how the future President is going to handle poverty, the economy, immigration, education, the war and the list goes on. Stick to the issues please.
I am soooo tired of this race!!!!! Someone end it and put us out of our misery!!!! i am a life-long democrat and used to be excited, but all this has me all fed up. I am over it!
So true and thank you for bringing this up. Voters want real answers about issues especially as bad as the economy is at the moment. The current primary race is bound to cause turmoil when we do get a nominee if they cant come together and unite the country. The old saying "Cant we all just get along" enough mudslinging already after all this will happen once a nominee is decided.
Frankly I don't think the candidates are doing much squabbling. I think what's happening, instead, is that comments made by a few people associated with the campaigns have been blown way out of proportion by a press that's struggling to keep politics in the forefront. Clearly there are people with screws loose supporting both candidates; the press needs to stop giving them a forum.
Hit the nail on the head here David!
Aw, David, you're no fun. Why change how things are done after so many years of successfully doing them?
I truly don't believe the candidates have any details of the ideas they throw out. They simply tell us what they think we want to hear. And that message changes from state to state, even.
McCain isn't going to change his campaign to reflect his weakness on the domestic issues any more than Clinton or Obama are going to change theirs to reflect their weaknesses in foreign policy. McCain can continue to run on the idea that if he focuses on Iraq we'll forget about how things are here in the US. Clinton and Obama tell us we'll leave Iraq when they take office but they can't make that happen either. So all sides are focusing – sort of – on what they know best.
And I blame the media for not doing their job. They let these candidates slide with non-answers. What I wouldn't give to hear a reporter (or even moderator at a debate) say, "That's nice, but would you please ANSWER the question?"
I don't expect the candidates to be proficient in all aspects of domestic and foreign policy. I do, however, expect them to surround themselves with people who are. Rather than hear about their ideas – which we know they cannot implement unless Congress agrees, so really they're nice ideas but not reality - I'd like to know who they would put in their cabinets to ensure a solid, well-rounded "committee" that can address both our needs at home and abroad. And can that "committee" bring the ideas to fruition.
And a strong, mature adult will come clean about their weaknesses and how they intend to shore them up.
Ha – it's easy to blame them both, but the hard truth is that Hillary is the one that has reduced the debate to this level by continually blasting attacks at Obama. When he tries to play clean and stay above the fray how is he rewarded? With losses in key states.
We, the American voters, are partly to blame for not rewarding the candidates for better behavior. Period.
And who else? Oh yeah, the media. When nightly news and pundit ratings are going through the roof because we are all tuning in to get the details on the latest mudslinging.
Fine. Blame all three. But don't blame Obama. This was NOT the campaign he wanted to run.
Wise up, America. You are being played.
Thank goodness someone has said it. I am truly dissappointed in both candidates. Please let's get back to the issues. We need help and we need it NOW! All this fighting is foolish...what should have been an election about Pride and Acceptance has become an election focused on Racism. Think about it we have an African American man running against a Woman....we should be embracing this historical moment. Now instead of going down in history for all the right reasons it will forever be remembered as an election that was full of nastiness. One where we have seen supporters left hanging in the balances for simply having an opinion. This is sad, sad, sad! Barack and Hillary, please go back to being the Role Models that I know and believe you both are. You are a dream ticket the sad reality is that you don't know it!
I think Obama really needs to divorce himself from his church,
the clip shown of his ministers service last night shows the minister as an extreme racist. It gives me serious doubts about Obama morals since he attends the church and refers to the minister as some sort of uncle.
I admire and respect your analysis.
You give a very balanced opinion and it is neither liberal or conservative.
I am glad you are asking the candidates to focus on the matters that are very real and daunting and the mess that they are going to inherit.
Cinton and Obama have difficulty debating the issues because they are so close together in the way they think. Their supporters have GOT to STOP all the race and gender baiting. That is the surest way to put another Republican in the White House. C'mon Dems, let's grow up!
Quit giving Obama a free ride. Do you guys ask these candidates the tough questions. Obama is more interested in seeing Clintons earmark requests not about the weak dollar and the price of oil.
Obama speakes about his opposition to the war, he was not in the Senate at that time. I would like to see what he would do after he has talked to the commanders on the ground.
color of ones race or religion hasnt fixed anything in the past nor will it be significant in the future. lets focus on what we can change not on what we cant..the issue of race is distracting from the real american issues in this race
Frankly I lay the bickering problem at the foot of the media. If reports of these squabbles would be ignored by the media then then they wouldn't spread so fast and furiously.
I think the media forces the candidates to spend way too much time defending useless comments and propeganda from the opponents. The real issues have been lost.
I'd really appreciate it if you would run another debate and stick to the topics. Don't address the name calling race/gender issues. Don't let the questions address them and let the candidates know that they would be cut off if they threw any darts at the opponent that didn't refer only to the topic of the question.
Perhaps it could even run with a 5 minute delay so that these comments could be edited out, or hey how about bleeping them out. Then we could really tell which candiate talks about the wrong things most.
Just an idea.
Okay, how about this one...
To get an idea of who would run best against McCain, how about a Clinton, McCain Obama debate now. Interesting thought .
Let's get over the natty squabbles and talk issues. Only issues.
And the election prospects for November ...the Three Stooges!
Very well said.
Still, Hill-A-Bee's unwarranted attacks cannot go unanswered.
I think Obama will be the first candidate to get back to the issues.
After all, he's in the lead.
It's funny, but you folks in the media are the ones that keep stirring the pot. You all hang on every word someone says to see if its racist! This is insane! Clinton and Obama have held 20 debates and I have watched or listened to most of them. I know where they stand on the issues and I know how they intend to govern. What more do you want, they can only say it so many times. This whole process has and will take too long. It should be one national primary day in late spring, get rid of the ridiculous and antiquated conventions and let the nominees battle it out to election day!
I believe the two canidates do need to be more specific in what they would like to do. I was at a Hillary Town Hall meeting here in Lorain, Oh. She would like to get a grip on the credit card problems most of use face. She would like to end the interest hikes that apply to past purchases and make the new interest rate apply only on new purchases. That would be a great step to start helping real people out of sticky situations. But I strongly think people should also look into their canidates history, see what type of person they are. Ken Star got out all the dirt he COULDN'T find on the Clinton's. But what do we really know about Obama? Why is knowbody reporting or telling us about one of the hugest political scandalls of all time?
In the Toni Rezko Trail, a native of Syria, going on right now in Chicago, the prosecution has wire taps of conversations that took place in Rezko’s office. Many of these taped conversations after 2004, when Obama was a Senator representing Illinois. Ironically, in the Prosecution’s evidence, “Senator A’ is present in many of them. It raises questions in my mind who is ‘Senator A?” Aren’t there only 2 Senators representing Illinois? Flip a coin and take a guess, I’ll take heads on Obama. But I bet that coin has heads on both sides.
I’ve been watching the story of Syrian native Toni Rezko. We are missing the whole story on this political "fixer" and who is the one financing this machine. Obama has been involved with Rezko since 1995! An Iraq billionaire, Nadhmi Auchi, has been the source of Rezko's funds for dirty work. Auchi is also investing in a nuclear power plant in Iraq. It is interesting that Bush’s Energy Plan passed by two votes. Barrack crossed over the isle and voted in favor of Bush’s plan. It brings questions to my mind if there were any foreign interests involved in Obama’s decision.
Passing by two votes is quite a happening for Barrack. When the Illinois House passed a River Boat Gambling issue by two votes, Barrack instantly stood up and said, “I’d like to change my vote to No!” He stated that he pulled the wrong handle and wanted to vote NO on the issue. Did he miss the yes handle and accidently pull the “Present” handle on issues like porn shops, strip clubs, and schools being across the street?? Did he do this 129 times by mistake while in the Illinois House for 9 years? May 2nd, 2007, he stated “Maybe he didn’t use his best JUDGEMENT!” Yet he says we need to trust his JUDGEMENT.
Barrack is running his campaign saying he doesn’t want to run negative advertisements. He wants it to be about the issues. People are now saying Hillary is running a negative campaign. Just wait for the Republican Machine to get a hold of Barrack, will people still say that Republicans need to quit mudslinging, or will they have voter’s remorse because they never researched their candidate? I urge that everybody look through the speeches of Change, and Hope, and Grandstanding and really ask themselves, “Who is Senator A”?
Hi David, no, the squabbling is no fun...it never was. Frankly, I'm really getting sick of it. The candidates have been so focused on winning the next state that they have lost their eye on what's going on here. Yes, I would like to hear their specific plan for the worsening economy. I was thinking of another debate, but no, I think we've heard enough debates. How about get a CNN reporter on the scene of the campaign or wherever they are, have them ask the question, and get complete, detailed answers. If their explanation is too long, they can post it on their respective campaign websites and we can browse through them at our leisure. The economy is a complicated problem and I expect a thorough, elaborate, and methodical solution.
The reason the Democrats are mired in squabbling is that the Clinton campaign is running an old style political campaign. Race and gender matter to people who are stuck in the 80's and partisan politics matter to those who are stuck in the early 90s.
That should have been the lesson of the Ferraro brouhaha but Penn's statement yesterday made it clear that they still don't get it. Much of electorate has moved past the politics of the 90s but the Clintons insist on fighting an "old fashioned" political campaign.
Unfortunately, Clinton supporters cannot frame arguments any other way - they can't help it, that's their frame of reference.
In the meantime, why hasn't the media actually looked at the legislative records of any of these candidates when it comes to economic issues? As you say, there's more to economic policy than tax cuts; where have they been these past 5 years? Why did Hillary Clinton reverse her position on the bankruptcy bill after telling Elizabeth Warren (Harvard professor and expert on bankruptcy) that it would be disastrous for families and women? What was Obama's record regarding economic issues and what else has McCain done besides reverse his position on tax cuts?
If you want a clearer story from the candidates, why haven't we seen more actual investigative reporting in this area.
You, in the media, are the ones putting out headlines such as "CINDY McCAIN – CAN SHE REALLY BE THAT PERFECT?" and you want the public and candidates to focus on issues?!
I second that!! Preach it brother!!
I too am tired of all of the childish squabbling. It seems that every time we turn around the candidates are fussing back and forth about things that doesn't even matter in the long run. They seem to be more worried about bringing the other candidate down than they are about what is happening in this country. They all need to grow up and get back to the real issues at hand.
I want to hear in much more detail how they plan to turn this country back around and get us back on the right track. Enough of the name calling, hair pulling and eye gouging! They really need to get back to reality! They aren't the Three Stooges but how they are acting right now we may want to start calling them that!
Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
How could you be so shameless when you said Clinton campagin
spread this pastor's video. Shame on you.
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