As the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s eruptions filled the media, driving out issues of war and recession, skyrocketing gas prices and the global food crisis, I picked up a copy of Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” as solace–an escape from the media circus.

“To think clearly about race, Obama writes, “requires us to see the world on a split screen–to maintain in our sights the kind of America that we want while looking squarely at America as it is, to acknowledge the sins of our past and the challenges of the present without becoming trapped in cynicism or despair.” We’re living in a time of split screens. There is a new politics emerging –yet we have a mass media determined that this campaign be about manufactured scandals and campaign conference call talking points.

It is hard not to despair as the new/old McCarthyite tactics of guilt by association threaten to bring down Obama’s message of a new and more decent politics–and perhaps his candidacy.

What also brings cynicism and despair is to watch our gotcha mass media sacrifice meaningful debate for manufactured controversy.

This is an election which confronts us with fundamental choices about what kind of country we will be: Empire or republic? A nation of shared prosperity or growing inequality? Number one in how many we put in our prisons and jails? Or number one in ensuring that all have adequate health care?

Who has the vision and the courage to provide us a path toward human security, environmental sanity, economic well-being?

All sane and decent people who care about the future of our country need to speak out against our mass media’s role in trivializing rather than illuminating this historic election.