The 2004 presidential campaign gives observers the feeling of being condemned to watching mindless repeats of VH1's series, "I Love the 70s." Democratic and Republican strategists are regurgitating and arguing about events that happened 30-plus years ago. These don't strike us as the issues voters are clamoring to hear about.
Unfortunately, the candidates' specific ideas about the economy, national security and foreign policy are obscured behind a never-ending news cycle of attacks and counterattacks.
When the Democratic and Republican attack dogs stop yipping about President George Bush's National Guard service (or lack of it) and whether Sen. John Kerry threw his medals or ribbons away in protest, there are plenty of other issues that would interest voters.
* The economy. People want to know if their jobs are secure, if the economy will continue to grow and if their paychecks will be eaten up by rising costs of health care, housing and fuel for their vehicles.
* Foreign policy. Now that we've ousted Saddam Hussein, what's the best strategy to bolster a stable Iraq government and bring American troops home safely?
* National security. How can we deter future terrorist attacks without trampling on individual rights?
* Education. How can we be assured our children are getting the best possible education in an increasingly competitive world?
* Health care. What can be done to get a handle on the ever-escalating costs of health care?
There's no question contestants in a presidential campaign are playing hardball and the candidate who doesn't aggressively defend himself and point out contrasts with his opponent will be obliterated. Still, in the course of this arduously long presidential campaign it would be refreshing to witness at least a short period of time where there was a respectful, spirited exchange of ideas on the issues, minus the mean-spirited sniping.
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