Gary Hart was a groomsman at John McCain’s wedding to Cindy Lou Hensley, so he knows a thing or two about the Arizona Senator.

On the day of Sarah Palin’s visit to Colorado, Hart–who represented the Centennial State in the Senate for twelve years–had a message for Palin and McCain: now is not the time for political ignorance to be rewarded.

"It’s more than a little concerning that one of four people who may take up the highest national office is unwilling to engage in any serious questions or real discussion," Hart said on a conference call organized by the group ProgressNow. "I hope that this attention she is getting now is a bubble of sorts. Given the financial markets and what has happened just this weekend, stakes are even higher than they were 72 hours ago. This is not just another national election."

Hart said his longtime friend had shed his maverick persona and cast his lot with Palin and the right-wing base of the Republican Party. Now, belatedly, McCain is trying to get his old image back. "Yes, he’s claiming again to be a maverick," Hart said. "That’s the problem with political advertising – it’s all just 30 second soundbites. No real discussion. The proof is in the pudding. In this case, the pudding is down-the-line voting along with the Bush administration."

And, with the race locked in a deadheat and the economy imploding, Hart had this advice for Obama:


"I’ve been advocating, publicly and privately, that he make this a transformational election. There comes times in this country’s history – we saw it in ’32 and ’36 of course, and also in ’48 with Truman and ’60 with Kennedy – when voters are forced to face the fact that we must do things, economically, in foreign policy, fundamentally differently."



"Obama’s change message right now is, ‘get rid of those who have mismanaged and put in people who will manage better.’ He needs to wrap that up and step beyond it."



"This is transformational politics. He must lay the burden of this economic collapse at the feet of the whole Republican Party, where it belongs."


Here’s what Obama said today:


Today offers more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store. For eight years, we’ve had policies that have shredded consumer protections, loosened oversight and regulation, and encouraged outsized bonuses to CEOs while ignoring middle-class Americans. The result is the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.



I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems. But I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It’s the same philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years – one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise; one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises.


Now, maybe it goes without saying, but Obama never blames Republicans, explicitly, for the mess they’ve made.