The spreading financial crisis is not only reducing the value of hyper-extended balance sheets and stock prices, but also tiresome political rhetoric -- at least wishfully. That's good for the body politic, rudely shaken as it is. When it became clear that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson's Vegas-inspired poker playing was not succeeding, and all the arrows pointed deeply south, the quack-quackers started talking in language that approximated reality. Of course it's reality -- not bluster or even the most rarefied and skilled guile -- that matters when a poker hand is called, as it has been for Wall Street.
We'll see where this reality check takes us with the closely polled presidential candidates. Both of them are so straitjacked by their parties' cliches on the economy it's not clear how much truth telling we'll see in the last six weeks of the campaign.
Obama, representing the party that's been out for eight years, has an advantage. But as his critics have pointed out, he keeps serving up standard Democratic attack rhetoric. In this new truth telling time, he could connect with voters by saying what he really thinks about the economy, beyond his mantra of the "last eight failed years."