By Mark Willen, Senior Political Editor September 15, 2008 Wonder how the major party candidates spent their day while the financial markets around the world reeled from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch? They're having a serious debate over how we got into this mess and proposing specific, practical measures to get out of it. And if you believe that, I have some ocean-front property in Arizona to sell you. It was no surprise that the presidential candidates felt compelled to weigh in on the financial crisis -- with statements, comments and of course new TV ads -- and no surprise either that they did so with potshots over who's to blame and with weak, ineffectual generalizations about what needs to be done. At an appearance in Jacksonville, Fla., McCain said he knew people were hurting but insisted the economy is still fundamentally sound. His campaign staff issued a statement saying a McCain-Palin administration would "replace the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street. We will rebuild confidence in our markets and restore our leadership in the financial world." The campaign followed with a TV spot saying only the McCain-Palin ticket "can fix it." Details? Don't be silly. Why weigh down perfectly cheery bromides with genuine thought? Replace the patchwork quilt with what? No clue. Restore confidence how? Obama's team pounced on McCain for declaring the economy sound, citing it as another sign that McCain is out of touch. Obama, appearing in Colorado, said the financial market turmoil is a major threat to the economy. His campaign statement said, "I certainly don't fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It's a 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, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises." Obama made it clear he favored more of a government role than McCain, but he offered no details on what he'd actually do, either. GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin departed briefly from her standard stump speech to say she's glad the government isn't bailing out Lehman, but that Washington "has been asleep at the switch" and needs to be reformed itself. She did question the ability of the Democrats who are now in control of Congress to affect reform, but skipped over the GOP president who has been in office for nearly eight years and the Republican-led Congress that was in power for most of those. And Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden made a major speech attacking McCain, mocking him as one of the few people in America who still thinks the economy is sound. On a day that has millions of Americans wondering what the Wall Street crisis means for the economy and their everyday lives, this is what passes for intelligent political discourse?