Economy Clouds Election

As we go to the polls to vote for Barack Obama or John McCain (not to mention our local issues), the fun of covering an historic election is giving way to the sobering reality of economic doldrums that still threaten to be historic, as well, despite unprecedented efforts by governments around the world to beat them back.

Tom Friedman and Frank Rich in their Sunday columns both made nods to the constraints a serious economic crisis presents. Friedman wrote "I can't remember a presidential campaign that was so disconnected from the actual challenges of governing that will confront the winner the morning after." He then goes on to cite Michael Mandelbaum, who wrote "Democracy's Good Name," saying "It is not a wealth transfer from rich to poor that the Bush administration will be remembered for. It is a wealth transfer from the future to the present."

Rich, in a column largely about race that expects an Obama victory, ended by saying "we'll soon remember that the country is in a deep ditch, and that we turned to the black guy not only because we hoped he would lift us up but because he looked like the strongest leader to dig us out."

Whoever wins gets what the Wall Street Journal called a "Dubious Prize;" an economy in deep freeze. It compares this downturn not to 2001, but to the 1980 recession that hammered President Carter, where GDP sank almost 8 percent one quarter.

It doesn't help that Monday's news included

The only thing certain is that after almost two years of campaigning, somebody new will be president. And their next four years will be a lot more challenging than the last two.