Watching the second Obama-Romney debate Tuesday night was like taking a trip back in political time.
Obama calling for more government jobs and cheaper education loans to lift us out of the recession.
Romney threatening to use tariffs against the Chinese if they dont jack up their currencys value so America can regain the manufacturing prowess we really havent lost.
Was I back in the recession of 49 or 53? Whats a tariff anyway?
And havent we heard that tough talk from Republicans about smaller government, fiscal responsibility, lower and simpler taxes and less regulations before? Like for the last five decades? Like $16 trillion ago?
Foreign policy sounded just as familiar.
The two men out-neo-conned each other on our interventionist Middle East policy, which has been a tragic and bloody bipartisan failure for 60 years.
Instead of questioning our aggressive presence in that backward region, they wasted their time arguing over whose fault it was our Libyan ambassador didnt have the protection he needed, or who said the stupidest thing in the wake of that fiasco.
Their boasting and strutting and interrupting about who was going to do more to assure Americas energy independence sounded familiar too, only this time I think I heard one of them call it energy security.
Total energy independence for America like bringing peace and civilized behavior to the Middle East is an impossible and stupid promise that only the politicians who say it every four years think is not impossible and stupid.
In a global marketplace, worrying about energy independence is about as silly as saying weve got to achieve steel independence or chocolate independence. If the federal government got out of the business of limiting oil and gas production on the land it owns (which it shouldnt own anyway), wed have all the energy we need.
The longer the debate went on, the weirder it got. Obamney and Romma were dancing around on the stage so much I lost track of who was the Big Government guy and who was the Bigger Government guy.
Both swore allegiance to the Second Amendment. But neither said a peep about actually shrinking the welfare/warfare beast in Washington. They just tried to come up with more clever ways to tax people they dont like so they can keep spending more on their pet expenditures college loans and more union teachers for Obama, more aircraft carriers for Romney.
There was no talk from either man about slashing federal spending. No talk about making income taxes flatter or fairer or nonexistent. No talk about getting the federal government totally out of education, health care, energy and 99 percent of all the other things it does to make our lives less free, more expensive and more annoying.
And how about those questions Candy Crowley chose from our fellow citizens, whose participation in the democratic process is so vital to our choosing the president whos going to mess up the next four years? One word comes to mind pathetic.
Of course theyre undecided voters. Not one had a clue about whats wrong or right about the country or what role government should or should not play in the lives of an allegedly free people.
Didnt one Long Islander wonder what Romney or Obama thinks about the horrible damage done to America by the bipartisan drug war? Or domestic drones? Or the TSA? Their questions could have come from a bunch of third graders or the White House press pool.
After enduring Wednesday nights duet in big-government bipartisanship, the average Ron Paul libertarian was, as usual, left somewhere between depressed and suicidal.
There was no choice, not even a lesser evil. Obamas been a disaster with his warmed up New Deal ideas. Romney sounds like Nelson Rockefeller with better family values. Either way, its four more years.
People wonder why libertarians say they cant tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Its because there really isnt any.
Bill Steigerwald is a former libertarian op-ed columnist and associate editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Distributed by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.