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With the revelations of the past weeks, the third presidential debate is sure to be one of the best shows in Las Vegas. Many observers have already had enough of the Clinton-Trump spectacle, but there are still some important things to look for.
Observers might examine the candidates’ statements for some sense of the cost of government, for some challenge to the statist superstition that there’s always money for everything. That applies to Mr. Trump’s promise to rebuild the military, always an expensive proposition. Sometimes politicians recommend expensive items the military doesn’t want, such as more M-1 Abrams tanks. See if either candidate can put a figure on what the Pentagon spends every day, and how effective that spending is.
See if either candidate can cost out the nation’s “Intelligence Community.” See if either can explain why, despite massive surveillance, its 16 agencies were unable to prevent terrorists based in Afghan caves from flying civilian airliners into buildings in New York and Washington. Maybe they will give a figure on how much more we need to spend to keep us safe.
See if Mrs. Clinton, a former First Lady, senator, and Secretary of State, has any clue about how much the national debt has increased over the past eight years. As Elvis said in Viva Las Vegas, get those stakes up higher. Keep your calculator ready, and see if she can cost out all those nanny-state programs, bearing in mind that they are all for children. On the other hand, maybe one of the candidates will come out for free hors d’oeuvres in every bar.
See if either candidate has any clue about the extent of government waste. See if either is aware that, as we noted, it is possible to work for the EPA for years, claim to be simultaneously working for the CIA, perform no work for either agency, and bilk taxpayers for $1 million. And how about $1.5 million in Social Security payments to Nazi war criminals? How’s that for accountability?
While looking for answers by all means enjoy the show. As the late George Carlin said, you can find 37 kinds of breakfast cereal, but when it comes to political parties we are pretty much down to two.