Economy Clouds Election

Last Updated Nov 4, 2008 12:22 PM EST

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.
  • Michael Fitzgerald

    Michael Fitzgerald writes about innovation and other big ideas in business for publications like the New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, Inc. and CIO. He’s worked as a writer or editor at Red Herring, ZDNet, TechTV and Computerworld, and has received numerous awards as a writer and editor. Most recently, his piece on the hacker collective the l0pht won the 2008 award for best trade piece from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He was also a 2007 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion.