Loud And Proud (05/05/08)
At the forefront of the national debate over the political and economic questions that will shape this year’s presidential election are the country’s Talk radio hosts. They drive the debate — and sometimes shape the opinions — that voters carry to the polls. They are the arbiters, flash points, and middlemen for listeners eager to voice their opinions on the issues that matter most to them, and their insights — as you might expect — at once inform, enrage, and entertain.
What are they key themes you’re hearing from listeners about the presidential candidates?
Keith Larsonh: I can’t tell you how many times I have heard folks ask: Is this really the best we can do? Conservatives look at these three and see them all as leftists. Different levels of leftist, but still leftist. Clinton has been exposed as a compulsive liar, Obama as an empty suit, and McCain is seen as the cranky old fart who screams at you that your music is too loud.
Michele McPhee: Race. Race. Race. Gender. Gender. Gender. If I criticize Barack Obama about his 131 present votes I am biased against blacks. When I question the integrity of Hillary Clinton with a reminder that she made up an outlandish tale of ducking sniper fire in Bosnia and humiliated herself by clutching the hand of her cheating husband, I am a self-loathing woman. And, as a Boston-bred, blue-collar lifelong Democrat, when I speak highly of John McCain, call him a humble, honorable, and so far honest, man I am branded a sell-out.
Stephanie Miller: Democrats right now are like five-year-olds spinning on their backs in the Wal-Mart parking lot having a giant tantrum if their candidate doesn’t win, and threatening to vote for John McCain, or someone equally ridiculous, like Ralph Nader.
Alan Colmes: My audience is disgusted with the way things are going in Washington and most see Obama as the biggest agent for change. Conservatives are calling me saying they regret voting for Bush and many will vote Democratic this time.
What are they key themes you’re hearing from listeners about the presidential candidates?
Ed Schultz: The themes have been consistent: Obama=Change, Clinton=Experience, McCain=Bush. The country is hungry for a huge change after eight years of the worst president ever.
Are the more conservative Republican voters warming up to John McCain?
Don Imus: These are people who marry blood relatives. Warming up is not an issue.
Glenn Beck: People are not so much warming up to McCain, they are getting frightened at the thought of an uber-liberal Obama or Hillary administration with a Democrat-controlled Congress on top of that. They kind of bump into McCain as they are running for the hills.
Phil Hendrie: The conservative Republicans better warm up to John McCain because he is demonstrating rather well that they don’t matter. Conservatism as it is currently represented in the Republican party is finished.
John Hancock: Why would they? Unless they narrow their vote to strictly a preference among the candidate’s predicted persuasion regarding possible Supreme Court nominees, they have no reason to warm up to the co-author of McCain-Feingold and amnesty for illegals. Oh that’s right, he’s changed. Never mind!
Jason Lewis: Here’s an interesting question: Is McCain warming up to them? So far, I’d say no, he’s still betting on winning in November with the help of so-called centrists. And he may just do it. But for those conservatives who realize international threats come in all forms, the untold story is the total capitulation by McCain and the GOP on the global warming issue, which has serious folks very concerned when you look at the costs to the economy from, say, a Lieberman-Warner emissions cap bill. There is no appetite for challenging the prevailing orthodoxy on this. Too unfashionable I guess, but that used to be called leadership.
Rusty Humphries: They are warming up to voting against Barack and Hillary. It’s not a love for McCain, it’s a hatred of the socialism preached by the Democrats.
Todd Schnitt: We are witnessing Democratic party disintegration right now. They are eating their own. We have never seen this level of inter-party turmoil. There have already been polls suggesting that if their candidate is not on the ticket, blocks of democrats will throw their vote to McCain.
No matter the outcome, do you expect fallout from the close race to affect the Democratic Party?
Steve Malzberg: Absolutely. To me there is a sweet irony to the fact that the “party of the minority” is having it out over race and gender. To listen to the conventional mainstream media wisdom, this is the kind of thing you’d expect from “the mean republicans,” not democrats.
Bill Cunningham: Yes and no. If the nominee is Barack Hussein Obama, there will be NO fallout. The mainstream media will continue to provide him with hundreds of millions of dollars of in-kind favorable contributions to the Obama campaign. The media loves Barack and will continue to give him a big, wet kiss at every opportunity.
If the nominee is Hillary Rodham Clinton, all hell will break loose because black voters will rebel, causing a migraine headache at the convention. The Democratic party has used and abused African Americans for 75 years, so it is payback for that loyalty.
Jay Severin: As of May 1, Ralph Nader — whom everybody dismissed, but on my show we recognized as prospectively lethal — is polling at 5 percent! That is likely a wider margin than the ultimate general election margin of victory/defeat. Political ignoramuses believe Nader’s impact is “unpredictable” or “hurts both major candidates.” Demonstrable twaddle. 99 percent of Nader’s vote would otherwise go Democratic. Thus, so long as Nader support runs at even 1 percent, he can be a huge (i.e., decisive, Dem-killer) factor. Run Ralphie! Run!
Who will win the Democratic nomination?
Don Imus: Satan.
Laura Ingraham: Since everyone will answer Obama, I will say “Nobama” and stick with the Clinton machine. And I also predict I will be wrong.
Monica Crowley: If Hillary wins the raw popular vote and the remaining big, industrial states, she can still make a plausible argument to the super delegates. Absent those wins, she’s toast. With those wins, she will carry the fight all the way to the floor in Denver, and she should. In the end, however, assuming there is no Obama implosion, he will get the nomination.
Rusty Humphries: I predicted on the air, more than a year ago, that it would be Barack Obama. Hillary is the most polarizing candidate in U.S. history.
Stephanie Miller: Barack Obama, unless Rev. Wright strangles a puppy on the White House lawn.
Who will win in November and why?
Bill Cunningham: McCain will win because the American people will not want Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Michelle Obama, and William Ayers in our living rooms for the next four years.
Glenn Beck: Socialism, because it’s running unopposed.
Phil Valentine: It’s going to be McCain, and not that I’m crazy about him. The Democrats have come across as the snotty kids in the back seat of the car, whining about wanting to stop for snacks, throwing spitballs at each other. McCain looks like the patient father driving the car. I think the voters are wishing “Dad” would reach over the seat and give them the back of his hand.
Steve Malzberg: I think John McCain will beat Barak Obama. The American people will chose a war hero and long-time senator over a man with no credentials, no qualifications, and very questionable connections. They will also chose victory in Iraq over surrender, a continued war on terror over negotiations with terrorists, and less taxes over more taxes, while rejecting government-run health care and hundreds of billions of dollars in brand new social programs.
Laura Ingraham: I have to believe that America won’t fall for the snake-oil pitches of bigger government, retreat from Iraq, and higher taxes on “the rich.” I’m hopeful that McCain can edge out the Democratic competition despite the big money of socialist George Soros and the Hollywood set that will be used to defeat him. But let’s face it: If the Democrats cannot win this time around, with a slow economy and continued national anxiety over Iraq, they should consider ditching the politics business altogether.
Monica Crowley: McCain will win, because 1. he’s the only one of the three actually prepared to be commander-in-chief in wartime; 2. for all the hype that voters want politicians “working across the aisle,” McCain is the only one who has actually done it; and 3. he’s got tremendous appeal to the 40 percent of unaffiliated voters who are going to decide this election. It should be a Democratic year, but McCain is going to turn history and the predictions upside down.
Bill Handel: I believe it will be Barack Obama, and it is simply because McCain’s position on Iraq parrots President Bush’s. The majority of the people in America are genuinely and profoundly sick of this war and view it as a monumental waste of money and precious American lives. Further, Barack is doing a brilliant job of hiding the fact that he’s to the left of George McGovern.
John Hancock: The rock star Barack Obama
Bill Press: Odds strongly favor Democrats, especially because McCain’s on the losing side of the two biggest issues: He’s gung-ho for the war in Iraq, and he admits knowing nothing about the economy. It would be hard for Democrats to blow this one, but not impossible.
Mancow: No idea. Really. My guess today: McCain.
Neal Boortz: If Hillary is the democratic nominee, many black voters will sit on their hands on election day. If Obama is the nominee, you can say the same for some white voters. This one looks like it’s lining up for McCain.
How can people best cope with rising prices for everyday items like gas, food, etc?
Ken and Daria Dolan: It’s imperative that every American concerned about increasing inflation do something they many have never done before: figure out why they have little or no money left at the end of the month.
Budgeting — a word very foreign to many Americans who carry an average credit card balance of $9,000! Get familiar with the B word before it’s too late.
Alan Colmes: Stop believing the party that supports the big oil companies is the one that has your economic interest at heart.
Clark Howard: Food is easy to save on bigtime. By in bulk when something is on sale, and go without when it is not. Coupons are used by a tiny percent of people, but those who use them will save a fortune. The website www.couponmom.com will organize you to save at least 50 percent on your grocery bills. The German owned supermarket Aldi — now in 27 states have — has limited selections, limited hours, no service, and rock-gut cheap prices. You will cut your bill by 40 percent. Mid-priced restaurants and chains are heavily couponing. Gas is tougher; fill up once your tank is at half. When you see cheap gas, buy it.
Ric Edelman: There are several steps you can take. Avoid impulse spending; if you lack the willpower to skip Starbucks, leave your cash and credit cards at home so you can’t spend. Buy in bulk; if you don’t need a six-pack of ketchup, get together with friends, neighbors, and relatives so you can all share in the savings. Cook too much for dinner and turn the leftovers into a free lunch the next day. Your cell phone renders your home telephone line redundant, so cancel it. Run all your errands at once to minimize the miles you drive, saving money on gas as well as wear and tear on your car. Borrow DVDs from your library for free instead of renting them. Read a co-worker’s copy of the daily newspaper instead of buying your own. Drink water from the tap instead of paying for it. Hundreds of other ideas are available on the Internet — just search.
If money is really tight, eliminate all wants and spend only on needs. The problem is that many people have confused the two: They think they need to go out to restaurants four times a week or pay for premium cable channels. You can’t change buying habits until you change your attitude.
What are the key mistakes people make at home when their financial picture sours?
Dr. Joy Browne: The first thing you need to do is start talking. I’m in a new relationship and one of the things we had to talk about was money. It made my stomach hurt. I hated every second of it, but I can’t give other people that advice and not pay any attention to it. You need to sit down and discuss who pays for what. It feels awful, but you need to do it.
Dr. Laura: Trying to live the way they’d like versus the way they must; getting frustrated and resentful and then turning on each other; behaving as if the current troubles will last forever and permitting themselves to get cynical and sad.
What is your advice for people looking to sell or buy a home in the short-term?
Ric Edelman: For sellers: Hire a real estate agent to help you sell your home. Lower your price as much as necessary to attract a buyer. Every month you delay forces you to pay another month’s worth of mortgage payments, insurance, taxes, repairs, and maintenance. Therefore, selling today for a lower price could actually be more profitable than selling in a year at a higher price. More importantly, selling now lets you move on with your life. Don’t worry that the house won’t sell for top dollar; if you’ve lived in that house for more than five years, odds are high that you’ll still sell it for more than you paid to buy it, so quit complaining. And by selling now, you get to buy your next home at equally depressed prices.
For buyers: Hire a buyer-broker to help you buy your home. Do not buy unless you plan to live in the home for at least seven years. That means finding a home that meets your future lifestyle needs, not just your current needs. When you find that home, be prepared to pay a reasonable price, and don’t worry that prices might fall further in the coming months. Buy the home because it meets your needs, not because you think its price will double.
Ken and Daria Dolan: Sellers: Depending on how badly you need to sell and where you’re home is located, two things to remember:
• realistically assess what your house is worth in this type of market and price it accordingly
• consider seller financing (very risky business) and/or leasing with an option to buy.
In either case, be sure to work with a real estate attorney.
Buyers: WAIT. Better bargains are headed your way in many parts of America.
What resources and techniques do you recommend for coping with financial stress?
Dr. Laura: Have a sense of humor. I remember searching every pocket of every pair of slacks and jacket looking for enough change to go out for hamburgers. It makes our life today more satisfying knowing we got here through struggles.
Show compassion to others; people tend to look at their own dire situation and lose interest in being of service to others. No matter what your financial situation is, people still count on you. Coming out of yourself reminds you that you can have joy in each day in spite of circumstances.
Make constructive plans for the day after tomorrow.
Dr. Joy Browne: I ask people: What do you want? To be happy. OK, what will make you happy? Having a lot of money. To do what? And then you get this vast silence. The thing is to figure out what the money buys you; it’s not the money itself. We know that people who win the lottery tend to have their lives ruined, not improved. There has been study after study. I wrote a book titled The Nine Fantasies That Will Ruin Your Life, and one of them is that money will make you happy. It will not. Figuring out what you want the money to do is the way to figuring out how to make yourself happy. Not the money itself.
In terms of economic weakness, is the worst behind us, or yet to come?
Todd Schnitt: I don’t think we’ve seen the bottom yet. My money’s on three to four rough quarters to go.
Phil Valentine: I think the worst is behind us. The whole sub-prime “crisis” was overblown. It’s like hearing a gun shot and grabbing your gut then you realize that you weren’t the one who was shot. Once people realize they didn’t get hit, they’ll go about their lives.
Bill Handel: If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t have to set my alarm for 3:30 every morning.
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