Did you know that Barack Obama has an “urban agenda” that includes creation of a White House Office on Urban Policy? If you search the Democrat’s website, you’ll see that he has proposed increased federal spending on community development block grants and establishment of a trust fund to build affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods. But if you weren’t aware of any of this, it’s understandable: Obama rarely talks about cities, or poverty, or dysfunctional public schools. Obama has his reasons for the silence, starting with the fact that there’s little upside in stressing urban issues when the election may be decided by white, rural voters in swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. Still, as Steve Chapman points out this week in the Chicago Tribune, isn’t it strange that while 80 percent of Americans live in cities or their suburbs, the presidential and vice presidential candidates of both parties talk almost exclusively about the problems and virtues of “small-town America”? (See Page 14.)

Urban issues aren’t the only ones that have fallen off the map. Remember immigration reform? Just last year, the nation was convulsed by angry debate over the people who’d entered the country illegally, with many Republicans demanding that the U.S. fix our “broken borders.” As it happens, the Republican who won the party’s nomination, John McCain, enraged his party’s base by proposing “comprehensive” immigration reform, in which millions of illegals could eventually obtain U.S. citizenship. Having burned his fingers, McCain is now giving that stove wide berth. I suppose we can assume that McCain still wants to tackle the immigration morass and that Obama still cares about troubled cities. First, though, they have an election to win. - Eric Effron