It is a sad day for the Democratic Party when the only headline focusing on a national policy issue has President Bush as the voice. With all the brouhaha over the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary race, there is not a single headline that addresses either Senator Clinton’s or Senator Obama’s stance on a single policy issue. After scrolling through all the headlines, even the “hidden” ones on both Google’s and Yahoo’s news directories, I couldn’t find a single campaign article on Iraq policy, healthcare, immigration, energy independence, the economy, anything. This election coverage is, in a word, dubious.

What has happened to the American political scene that Bush has become the voice of policy debates in the United States? Has a strep throat epidemic overcome Congress? Probably not, because then we would certainly hear more about healthcare. Or, perhaps the fault lies with the media. They are simply so stunned that all of their predictions about this race were so completely wrong that the outcome of each and every event occupies all their attention.

While the horse race element to election media coverage grows every two years and jumps every four, during this cycle it is simply dominating everything else. So much for this historic election cycle, for the chance for all Americans, not just those living in Iowa and New Hampshire, to pick the next president. If you get to vote but the only sound you make is whether or not Obama is surging or Clinton is in first place, was your voice really heard?

I can’t change the election coverage on CNN, MSNBC or even FOX, but I will do my part to maintain the press’s reputation as an, honest, hard working, old school media outlet.

In order that issues of substance are discussed, in the following paragraphs I have copied word-for-word brief summaries from Senator Clinton’s and Senator Obama’s Web sites on the three policy topics I think are most important: the War in Iraq, energy and healthcare.

Elections are fun, but there are also important issues at stake here and it’s important to understand what each of these people would do as our president.

On Iraq, from Obama’s Web site: “Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.”

Clinton’s Web site says, “The most important part of Hillary’s plan is the first: to end our military engagement in Iraq’s civil war and immediately start bringing our troops home. As president, one of Hillary’s first official actions would be to convene the Joint Chiefs of Staff, her Secretary of Defense, and her National Security Council. She would direct them to draw up a clear, viable plan to bring our troops home starting with the first 60 days of her Administration.”

On energy, from Obama’s Web site: “Obama supports implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

Hillary would institute “A new cap-and-trade program that auctions 100 percent of permits alongside investments to move us on the path towards energy independence. An aggressive comprehensive energy efficiency agenda to reduce electricity consumption 20 percent from projected levels by 2020.”

On healthcare, from Obama’s Web site: “Obama will make available a new national health plan to all Americans, including the self-employed and small businesses, to buy affordable health coverage that is similar to the plan available to members of Congress.”

With a President Hillary, “If you have a plan you like, you keep it. If you want to change plans or aren’t currently covered, you can choose from dozens of the same plans available to members of Congress, or you can opt into a public plan option like Medicare. And working families will get tax credits to help pay their premiums.”

These blurbs do not begin to cover either candidates’ stance on any of the issues. You should check out both their Web sites’ ‘Issues’ sections for more information: and And, of course, vote.

Kirstein is a member of the class of 2009.

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