TODAY ON TAP ONLINE: DEBATES AND THE DEPRESSION.

Paul Waldman explains how debates are won (it's pretty silly):

The first is to understand that the goal is not so much to win the debate but to convince the press that you won the debate. The first step to doing that is to shape their definition of "winning." In the next week and a half, we'll see an absurd amount of discussion about "expectations," as though an election were a round of golf in which everyone is judged according to his or her handicap. Each campaign will come before the press and say with the utmost sincerity that its candidate is a bumbling fool, and it'll be a miracle if he makes it to the lectern without tripping and knocking himself unconscious. The other candidate, each campaign will say of its opponent, is so smart, so prepared, and so skilled that professors of rhetoric everywhere will weep with joy at hearing him bless us with his wisdom and erudition.

And Eric Rauchway explains what John McCain's economic approach has in common with Herbert Hoover's:

Responding to the collapse of several major investment banks this week, John McCain reassured us, "I think still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong." That move comes from an old playbook: On Oct. 25, 1929, Herbert Hoover declared, "The fundamental business of the country, that is the production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis."

The day before Hoover insisted that the fundamentals were strong was the day that came to be known as Black Thursday, when in heavy trading the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 9 percent of its value. And while, in endless stock-footage documentaries showing images of dumbfounded traders over a soundtrack of mournful jazz clarinets, the crash is supposed to begin the Great Depression, it wasn't quite so. The real cause was the collapse of the banking system, which followed the crash in part because Hoover believed strong fundamentals would protect the economy from disaster.

Subscribe to our RSS feed to receive our articles as soon as they’re published.

—The Editors