But other than that, what did you think?

As I attempted to watch yet another mind-numbing, insulting and misleading political debate…

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?”

That famous line kept going through my mind as I attempted to watch yet another mind-numbing, insulting and misleading political debate.

It doesn’t even matter what level or office; civil discourse and coherent analysis of pressing issues seems as far from these public forums as some exotic and endangered species.

And yes, other than the befuddled, self-serving warmed-over clichés, what did any of us think of what passes for political debate in 2020?

The irony is that, at more levels than could be counted, the stakes could not be higher.

The fire season in California, hurricane season in the Gulf states, COVID everywhere and economic collapse knocking on everyone’s door never seems to abate – or even slow down.

Our political balance of federal powers between the judicial, legislative and executive branches seems to have evaporated when we weren’t looking.

Even the line, once relatively clear, between state and federal authority and responsibility has blurred. Federal funding for everything from schools to national parks is based more on the whims of federal bureaucrats than need or merit.

But besides all that, who among us likes where we are right now?

The irony is that in previous years and political administrations, the party in power, and those who voted it in, were happily putting in place their vision of an ideal economy and political system.

But somehow, instead of celebrating, or even consolidating power, the party in power congratulates itself for a job well done – “You think over 200,000 deaths from COVID is bad, it COULD have been two million!”

I’m not a political consultant, but somehow the argument that it could be worse (way worse!) does not strike me as a very convincing political strategy.

Maybe it’s just me, but declaring victory as the ship is sinking is not quite working.

Perhaps we could use some benchmarks that don’t move, some universal criteria to measure success – and failure.

Besides the usual numbers of employment and GDP, we could somehow measure confidence and hope in the future.

We have consumer confidence surveys, in fact the index had stood near a 20-year high at 132.6 in February, only to hit a six-year low by August (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-25/u-s-consumer-confidence-falls-to-lowest-level-in-six-years) and have its highest rebound in seventeen years by the end of September –https://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-confidence-surges-economic-recovery-hopes-stimulus-conference-board-2020-9. The federal deficit for 2020 is at a record high, more than double the highest deficit on record, according to an estimate by the Congressional Budget Office released Thursday – https://thehill.com.

So, besides COVID, fires, hurricanes, collapsing industries from tourism and travel to Hollywood and more COVID cases in The White House than in Taiwan or New Zealand, what do you think of the economy of 2020?

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