When Did Iraq Become More Important Than America?

So asks the public interest site, TomPaine.com.

Saddam Hussein is an imminent threat OR he’s just a convenient political distraction wielded by the White House.

Whichever way you see it, you must agree: The attack-Iraq tempest has eclipsed most other issues.

With mid-term elections just weeks away, the lack of substantive debate and coverage of domestic issues poses more of a threat to the nation’s security than Saddam. But anyone who says so has trouble getting a microphone.

Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, is trying. He’s asking a question made famous in 1980 by California Republican Ronald Reagan: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

"An analysis of current indicators of the nation’s social and economic well-being shows that many are again declining," Waxman writes. He cites a dozen examples, including rising unemployment, record-high numbers of bankruptcies and mortgage foreclosures, and the return of the federal budget deficit. The number of Americans living in poverty and the number of people without health insurance are both at their highest level in years, and prescription drug costs are soaring.

Look past Iraq and a broad picture of an uneasy nation emerges. A New York Times/ CBS News poll found that 70 percent of people would like to hear candidates talk about the economy rather than the war. Most voters (57 percent) say they will cast their ballots based more on economic issues than on foreign policy.

Yet it still seems like the upcoming elections will be more about Saddam’s fate than the future of Social Security. Preemptive war will get more attention than prescription drug prices. We’ll talk more about high-flying F-16s than crashing 401(k)s.

Americans must be wondering: When did Iraq become more important than America?

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Published on October 9, 2002 7:28 PM.

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