Posted by: mutantpoodle | September 24, 2008

The end of an error

Watching George Bush tonight – and all I could handle was about 5 minutes – all I could think about was how glad I am that he is about to depart the national stage in disgrace, with the hollowness of his leadership on display for all to see.

Here’s where I had to turn off his speech, lest I damage my teevee:

…there is now widespread agreement on the principles such a plan would include. It would remove the risk posed by the troubled assets — including mortgage-backed securities — now clogging the financial system. This would free banks to resume the flow of credit to American families and businesses. Any rescue plan should also be designed to ensure that taxpayers are protected. It should welcome the participation of financial institutions large and small. It should make certain that failed executives do not receive a windfall from your tax dollars. It should establish a bipartisan board to oversee the plan’s implementation.

In close consultation with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and SEC Chairman Chris Cox, I announced a plan on Friday.

That plan, of course, had none of the features Bush mentioned in the areas of “widespread agreement” above – except for the bailing out of troubled assets. If you recall, Bush’s proposal allowed for no oversight and no review.

And then there’s John McCain.

Does anyone else think that the notion of important stuff happening without his maverickiness present drives John McCain mad? Why would anyone in Congress be waiting anxiously for John McCain – the man who doesn’t know much about the economy, except for what Phil Gramm (whose agenda isn’t working so well now, is it?) tells him – to swoop in and bless whatever shiny bipartisan package might be slapped together? I mean, McCain does have a phone, right?

And don’t get me started about the suspend the campaign – cancel the debate ruse. (We’ll just do it when the VP candidates were gonna debate, and we’ll get to their debate, um, later.) Kevin Drum got caught when his cynicism was trumped by McCain’s:

A couple of hours ago I suggested that maybe John McCain would try to postpone the first debate to October 2nd because that would then eliminate the vice presidential debate. (So sad….) I thought I was just being hackishly cynical when I said that, but no: according to CNN, that’s exactly what McCain is proposing. The VP debate would then be “rescheduled.” (Perhaps to November 5th, joked Dana Milbank.)

My lesson for the day: No matter how hackishly cynical you think you are, you’re no match for the hackish cynicism of the McCain campaign.

Barney Frank calls it “the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys.”

It’s a long way to election day, but if the theme takes hold that McCain was playing games to change the story (he was meeting with Lady Lynn de Rothschild this morning while Obama was waiting for a returned call, for chrissakes), I don’t know how he recovers.

And then there’s Sarah Palin.

COURIC: Would you support a moratorium on foreclosures to help average Americans keep their homes?
PALIN: That’s something that John McCain and I have both been discussing whether that is part of the solution or not … you know, it’s going to be a multifaceted that has to be found here.
COURIC: So you haven’t decided whether you’ll support it or not?
PALIN: I have not.
COURIC: What are the pros and cons of it, do you think?
PALIN: Well, some decisions that have been made poorly should not be rewarded, of course.
COURIC: By consumers, you’re saying?
PALIN: Consumers and those who were predator lenders also. That’s, you know, that has to be considered also. But again, it’s got to be a comprehensive long-term solution found for this problem that America is facing today. As I say, we are getting into crisis mode here.

Um, how does one respond to this? I leave it to Hilzoy:

Sarah Palin has been described as a quick study. But she has been surrounded by briefers for nearly three weeks, and she’s still completely unable to string together an intelligent thought on the mortgage crisis. Would a moratorium on foreclosures keep people in their homes, or would it make banks even less likely to make mortgage loans, while driving them closer to insolvency? Is this sort of heavy-handed government interference in the market a desperate measure called for by desperate times, or is it more like Robert Mugabe’s efforts to stop inflation by banning price increases? (I probably shouldn’t wonder whether Sarah Palin knows who Mugabe is…) It would be nice if the running mate of one of the oldest candidates for President ever had some ideas about these issues. Since she’s been prepping constantly, it’s pretty alarming that she doesn’t.

I served with quick studies. I knew quick studies. Quick studies were a friend of mine. Sarah Palin: you’re no quick study.

It seems that neither member of the Republican Presidential ticket can be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, Obama gives a press conference (video above), says the debate should continue, and points out that there will be times when a President has to deal with more than one thing at a time.

Many years ago, I worked for the NBC affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island. Providence is Celtics territory, and it was a Sunday night after the Philadelphia 76ers had just demolished the Boston Celtics. Toward the end of the game, Philly’s Bobby Jones stole the ball and went in for an uncontested breakaway dunk, and Jack Edwards, Channel 10’s weekend sports guy, said this over the highlight:

“You know the game is over when the white guys start dunking.”

He got a bit of a reprimand for that one.

Today, Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review Online noted that “…Obama sounds reasonable and less gimmicky than McCain.”

To paraphrase Jack Edwards, you know you’re in trouble when the folks at NRO start climbing out of the tank.

If this all works for McCain, it gives him life. If, as is more likely, it blows up on him, I don’t know how he climbs out of the hole.


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