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Let Them Eat Pedicures

Photo credit: Corey AnnHow appropriate Sen. John McCain didn’t mention the words "middle class" in this week’s presidential debate—or in the first presidential debate.

Because as a proponent of and heir to the greedy, corrupt, rich-first regime of the past eight years, McCain and the conservative ideologues, who he’s trying to distance himself from to win the election, are reaping the rotten fruits of policies that have systematically devastated the sound financial foundations of America’s working families.

Just to note a few: Tax policies that encourage corporations to ship family-supporting U.S. jobs overseas. Payoffs to the CEO class and their country club buddies through massive tax cuts for the wealthy—excessive expenditures that provide reactionaries a convenient excuse for shortchanging programs for children’s health coverage or affordable prescription medication for seniors or an expanded safety net for the growing numbers of unemployed workers. Chaos and destruction in the financial world that may mean few of us get pensions. The recent financial debacle has wiped out $2 trillion in our pension savings in the past 15 months. Rather than retire at age 65, many of us will be forced to work until we die, repeating variations of:

Welcome to Big Burger. How can I help you?

The Bush regime has fostered more than a "culture" of corporate excess. When AIG executives went to a luxury resort and spent nearly $500,000 on manicures, facials, pedicures and massages one week after accepting an $85 billion bailout by U.S. taxpayers—whose funds the Treasury Department used to save the corporation destroyed by CEO greed—that’s a culture of hate. Hate for the millions of America’s working families whose American Dream has been clipped along with the pedicured toes of multibillionaire CEOs.

Hate fostered by a reactionary vision of government that shuns civic citizenship in favor of corporate cronyism. Because rather than punish AIG for its egregious display of contempt for middle-class taxpayers, the Bush Treasury Department ideologues hand the company another $38 billion. And in another demonstration of total disdain for the country, the economy and the people on whose backs AIG is treading, the corporation had planned another luxury retreat next week, before backing down.

We are less than 30 days away from an election that will determine whether the middle class survives—and with it, the nation. As he often does, Glenn Greenwald pithily identifies the current political milieu when he describes the worldview gulf between the Republican punditocracy and America’s voters:

What’s happening in this country, and in this election, is rather simple and easy to see: (1) the country is in total shambles—possibly far worse than what people even realize; (2) we have lived for the last eight years under virtually absolute GOP rule; (3) the public knows this; (4) the Republican President and his party are therefore intensely—historically—unpopular; and (5) the voting public doesn’t want to continue living under the rule of the same faction and same political party that has driven the country into the ground.

Some cynics have said disasters like the Bush administration are the risks of democracy. But a populace force-fed incessant media spin by talking heads who back corporate puppet-presidents is not the informed democracy essential for clear decisions at the ballot box.

This election, no amount of mainstream media bias can gloss over the failed state of the nation. And along with the union movement’s massive get out the vote effort, and all the outreach and candidate fundraising by the progressive community, now is the time we, the people, can take back America from reactionary ideologues.

In the hours before Tuesday’s debate, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews relentlessly greased the wheels for Republican pundits to pontificate on the key question for the insider clique: What must McCain do to win the debate?

Later, Matthews went outside the TV studio to interview people in the Nashville, Tenn., crowd. As one after another expressed support for Sen. Barack Obama and opposition to Bush/McCain, his irritation visibly grew, until he finally spit out what he was thinking:

Where are the McCain supporters?

A man in the crowd answered:

It’s like Michigan. McCain supporters are all gone.

The people speak.

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Tula Connell

Tula Connell