Monday, September 29, 2008
At least that's what John McCain is counting on.
People have been warning of impending economic meltdown, mainly in the form of drying up liquidity, for months. During the past weeks, others actually began to listen. Several days ago, the evidence was pretty clear.
John McCain said, for the umpteenth time, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." (I won't insult you with his attempt to clarify the next day.)
The Republican White House presents a plan, jaw-dropping in terms of the amount of money requested, and in its absolute rejection of oversight. While McCain was initially silent, Barack Obama spoke clearly, spelling out what needed to change in the proposal. All of those changes were incorporated into the revised bill.
John McCain suddenly sees the light, announces there's an impending economic meltdown, and puts his campaign into animated suspension, claiming, for the first time in his life, he's for regulating Wall Street. Races immediately to D.C. (after a sojourn with an heiress, couple of interviews, speaking in NYC, etc) having covered the one hour distance in a mere 22 hours. Before he arrives, agreement is announced. After he's fiddled around, the deal is broken.
He disappears, having, according to several reports, been virtually silent in the White House meeting he provoked.
Rather than return to D.C. after the debate to, y'know, LEAD his party, he says, in response to questions thereabout, that he can talk to the necessary people ON THE PHONE!!!.
Now the vote in the House has failed. (Reminder: it's a plan initiated by a Republican president, the passage of which, with appropriate modifications, was worked for by Democrats -- a majority of whom voted for it -- and was shot down by Republicans, a majority of whom did not.) One might also note that just before it failed, McCain was taking credit for its passage.
(Opinion: it's a horrendous thing to have to do, and, according to several reports, Congresspeople are getting a flood of angry calls from constituents. Voting for the bill is gutsy by any measure, and can only be seen as a decision [rightly or wrongly] that the needs of the country supersede politics or their own electoral futures.)
So here's the "you're stupid" part. John McStraighttalkingPOWcountryfirstObamadoesntgetitCain is out there now blaming the whole thing on Barack Obama. He had two meaningful options: stating clearly his position in favor (with or without additional suggestions), he could have gone to (or phoned) his peeps in D.C. and worked on getting them to buy in. (Of course, if he failed, his leadership would be seen for what it is, and it'd have required real balls to do. 'Nuff said.) Or he could have stated "My friends, I was a deregulator in prison, and I've been one my whole career. I believe in free markets. Let the chips fall where they may, let market forces rule. No deal." He did neither. Choosing the truly craven, he went "country last" and blamed everything on Obama, and, most laughably, he put down his cellphone and accused Obama of "phoning it in." PHONING IT IN. And, of course, claiming Obama was politicizing the crisis.
If we weren't stupid, we might be asking if the crisis of last week was so dire that he couldn't -- putting country first! -- keep campaigning (except that he did), why isn't he suspending again, now that things are demonstrably worse?
But John McCain has placed his bets that we are stupid. Or at least, that we're not paying attention. He lies about things the disproof of which are right in front of our faces! It bothers him not at all. But here's what's really scary. At the rally today, when he said all that ridiculous stuff, people cheered like they'd just been given their tickets to the rapture. "Cynical politics": from now on the phrase should be replaced by "John McCain."
He's counting on the electorate being stupid. Of that, there's no doubt. Only question remaining: is he right?
[Update: here's a good list of McCain's wild swings.]