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October surprise

In an election year, there’s always talk of the October surprise that will jumble the race. What if there’s a serious terror attack? Would the public rally ’round the Repubs as the traditional party of national security issues, or blame them because it happened on “their watch.” How about the Iraqi version of a Tet offensive? A late-breaking scandal involving one of the presidential candidates? (Remember the George W. Bush drunk-driving incident just before Election Day 2000?) You get the idea. Usually, when we talk about the October surprise, we think in these terms.

I was talking to a friend and the subject of possible October surprises and he said, “The first October surprise is going to be when everyone gets the quarterly statements on their IRA or 401(k).”

My friend is probably right. Many Americans are worried about losing their home or their job. They don’t need anything to personalize the financial market crisis. But for many of us the biggest personal impact we will feel from the financial crisis will be a reduction in our retirement savings.

So, here is it Oct. 1, the first day of the new calendar quarter. I don’t know whether you are the kind of person that often checks on your investments or the more passive type who waits for the statements to come in the mail. I used to be the former type, but (I gather this is not an uncommon reaction to the recent Wall Street meltdown) haven’t had the nerve to do it recently. My conversation with my friend forced me to get out of denial. So I just checked.

My 401(k) is down 20 percent for the year to date, 14 percent for the third quarter, which ended yesterday after the Dow disaster of Monday and the partial bounce back of Tuesday. To tell you the truth, with all the hyped talk, I was a little relieved. Definitely not happy, but that was within my expectations. It will not change my life plans much.

Will the arrival of those statements be the October surprise that personalizes this giant, complex, confusing news story for a lot more Americans? Will they blame it on Bush? McCain? Republicans generally? Might Republicans find a way to blame it on Obama Democrats?

What think?

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Brian Simon on 10/01/2008 - 02:01 pm.

    My tea leaves say the voters will primarily blame it on Republicans. Change is in the air.

  2. Submitted by Tom Poe on 10/02/2008 - 09:38 am.

    October Surprise! What if I told you McCain has never voted for one veterans’ funding or healthcare bill? Of course, this is not true. What is true, is, he has voted against almost every single veterans’ funding and healthcare bill since entering elected office in 1987. Imagine that! The man cannot stomach any funding or healthcare bill that would benefit veterans. To view a multimedia posting that details his voting record, simply type in the keywords, “mccain non-support” into your favorite search engine and follow the link to Brandon Friedman’s article in the Huffington Post. Read, listen, and watch as his voting record is laid out for everyone to understand. Why would this man who touts his POW status not be able to vote for any funding or healthcare, or for protective armor for our troops, yet be the loudest and most notorious advocate for veterans? This is a man who wants to be our leader? Would you really want to vote for someone who would disgrace our country in such an obscene way?

  3. Submitted by Hall Hall on 10/02/2008 - 10:29 am.

    At this point, I think the economic/financial crisis is the October surprise.

  4. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 10/02/2008 - 11:59 am.

    Tom, why do you think that MeCain’s voting record on veterans is not well-known and exploited by the Dems? Are they not missing an opportunity? Your comment was my October surprise, and I follow political news and events pretty closely.

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