On Wednesday, September 17, you might have been confronted with a campaign commercial that featured John McCain addressing you directly about the financial meltdown occurring on Wall Street and assuring you that significant federal regulation would be on the way with a vote for him in November. He smiles a cocky grin and attempts to persuade you that he has faced much tougher characters than these. No problem for this tough, no-nonsense war hero. He'll fix it, and we'll be back in the saddle again!
Great sound bite. Poor history.
McCain voted for the Gramm-Bliley Act of 1999 that most experts directly attribute to paving the road that allowed our credit, financial services and housing industries to drive our economy over the cliff. He was such a fan of the brilliance of Phil Gramm that he made him Co-Chairman of his campaign and author of the economic plan for the candidate. Prior to that, Gramm had co-authored the Gramm-Rudman Act that had allowed the energy industry to self destruct, ending in the Enron debacle. When Gramm announced that the American public was a bunch of whiners and the only depression afflicting the country was a "mental depression."- Gramm was let go by the campaign, but he left behind the blueprint for McCain's economic plan that has gone unchanged since Gramm's departure.
McCain has been a stalwart champion of de-regulation as the panacea to all economic ills that face the country, when in fact de-regulation has led us to the precipice of a total collapse of our financial systems. Rather than face this truth, he is doing an about face with military snap, calling for aggressive federal regulation that Obama has been campaigning on all along, even before there was no other choice.
This flip-flop for McCain brings up an interesting conundrum for the senator. He had told us, several times, that he really didn't know that much about the economy, a sound bite repeatedly used to great effect by his Democratic adversary. Since the current environment made that a death knell for his aspirations, he has trotted out his now trademark dismissive laugh and stated "I understand the economy. I was Chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights [sic] every part of the economy."- That is close to being true. The parts of the economy that it has absolutely no oversight of include credit, financial services and housing, the "trifecta of disasta."- So the candidate has a choice. If he thinks he was at the helm of the economy while this economic hurricane built over the warm waters of a de-regulated market, then he must bear the brunt of blame for the results of the poor judgment that has lead us to today. If not, he must admit that he has no idea what his committee was actually responsible for and truly does know nothing about the economy. Neither choice is a good one, but there really is no third.
Wait! Of course there is. He can lie to you and hope you don't check because you've already decided we owe him the presidency for his military hardship, or you have fond memories of the TV series "Maverick"- and wish it would come back on, or you find his new wife more appealing than the old disabled one he got rid of, or any of the myriad irrelevancies that they are trying to make central to the campaign. These will all fade into nothingness, though; as the economic policies of the Wild West devour your pension, your home, your security and the future you had hoped to leave to your children.
This election is not about personalities, parties or punch lines. It's about good judgment and intelligent decision making. The most important decisions McCain has faced in his run to the presidency have been his choices of campaign chairman and running mate. They have both been unmitigated disasters. Look at these choices without partisanship and decide to vote for the future of the people of this country.