Like the last fans walking out of a now-abandoned Yankee Stadium, let's usher out the age of frivolity in the race.
Take the lipstick with you -- yes, even that tube you put on a pig. Pack up the arugula. Bubble-wrap the tanning bed. Paris and Britney -- you can resume your regularly scheduled places in the nation's consciousness.
From global finance to world crises, a high-stakes congressional debate and a (possibly) higher-stakes presidential one, the real world has now crashed into the political world. It's about time (since this is a presidential campaign and everything), but finally, this race is about who can be the best president.
This week will demand versatility: As the Hill grapples with the recovery package thrust in its lap, a debate on foreign policy looms Friday -- the last big scheduled game-changer on the calendar.
Watch the paradigms shift: "So far, the presidential race has focused extensively on the life stories of the two candidates and their running mates. The government bailout of Wall Street will shift the focus onto more grounded concerns -- both domestic and overseas, where increasing amounts of the American government's debts are being held in unfriendly nations," Peter Canellos writes in the Sunday Boston Globe.
"At such a time, considering whether a tanning bed was installed in the governor's mansion in Alaska amounts to holding a barbecue on the lip of the volcano," Anna Quindlen writes for Newsweek. "Maybe this campaign, which looked so promising, so dedicated to real issues and real change a year ago, can now get back on course."
"Once again it's about the economy, stupid -- and financial markets and how they are best regulated," Time's Michael Duffy writes. "That shift should benefit Democratic nominee Barack Obama for many reasons, as economics in difficult times rarely help Republicans. But this race has proven conventional wisdom wrong time and again. What seems more certain is this: though virtually no one was calling for it, a new era of big government has arrived."
"This could be the single-most important week for these candidates to sell themselves to voters as potentially good stewards of the economy -- and to attack each other," ABC's Jake Tapper reported on "Good Morning America" Monday.
The scope, per ABC's Martha Raddatz: "All together, a stunning number of taxpayer dollars are now at risk. More than double the entire cost of the Iraq war. More than the Pentagon, education, health and human services, agriculture and Homeland Security budgets combined."
Back on the trail -- who really wants this? It's a scenario that calls for bold leadership -- but might Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama be as confused and conflicted as the rest of us?
(Even if everyone can agree the bailout is necessary, no one can agree how this one will go over with voters who want bailouts of their own.)
"Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama traded fresh jabs Sunday but offered no new policy prescriptions to lead the nation out of its economic morass," Bob Drogin and Michael Finnegan write in the Los Angeles Times. "Both candidates have grown far more assertive in recent days in accusing the other of misguided economic policies -- and both have moved more cautiously in suggesting remedies to the fast-moving crisis."