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Dear Candidate, Beware What You Don't Say

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Dear Candidate, Beware What You Don't Say

Dear Candidate, Beware What You Don't Say

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with Day to Day. Last Friday's presidential debate was the first of three presidential debates and according to our humorist Brian Unger, it also marked a seminal change in both campaigns. As Brian explains in today's Unger Report.

BRIAN UNGER: The day after the debate, Senator Obama was back on the campaign trail and this ad was on TV, taking Senator McCain to task for something he did not say.

Unidentified Man: Number of times John McCain mentioned the middle class, zero.

BRIAN UNGER: That which McCain did not mention was then repeated Sunday by Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, on NBC's "Meet The Press."

Mr. DAVID AXELROD (Chief Strategist, Senator Barack Obama): Senator McCain never once mentioned the middle class.

UNGER: Which invited this rebuttal from chief McCain strategist Steve Schmidt on the topic of the Iraq War.

Mr. STEVE SMITH (Chief Strategist, Senator John McCain): In the debate you heard not one time from Senator Obama the words, victory.

UNGER: This parsing of word not spoken makes choosing a president a lot tougher for voters, who must not only choose based on where both men stand on the issues but now, where both men don't stand on issues they've never stood on. This campaign is getting too deep without getting deep at all. If we're judging the candidates by what we don't hear them say, then we must either become a nation of mind readers or look up every word in the dictionary these men aren't saying. And that is a lot of bathroom reading. Scholars disagree, but most say there are between 500 and 750,000 words in the English language. So in each of the remaining days before election day, we must listen for, oh,15 or 20,000 words that don't cross these candidate's lips. Because it only takes one non-spoken omission to turn an election this tight.

Furthermore, in addition to not hearing victory or middle class, here are some other words you did not hear during the debate. Regarding the $700 billion bailout, I did not hear a single utterance of the word bull (bleep). Mark my words, one of these guys will go down for not saying bull (bleep). I did not hear in the debate use the word fabulous, once, to describe anything. The bailout plan, their lapel pins or each other. You did not hear sorry, liar, geezer, or punk. But most glaringly omitted in the debate were the words, I love you. If you're like me, you always feel like you're the one to say it first and neither McCain or Obama has, unsolicited, looked us in the eye and said, I love you. So in the next two debates brace yourself for more words that won't shock you, because you didn't hear them including fabulous bull (bleep), sorry, liar, geezer punk, I love you. You didn't hear it here first. And that is today's Unger Report, I'm Brian Unger.

BRAND: Can't get enough of Brian? A weekly podcast featuring the humor and satire of Brian Unger is available for download at npr.org.

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