Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Picking Up on Peter L’s Post . . .

re: the economic situation possibly favoring McCain because trying times cause us to look backward (i.e., to what has always worked in the past) and not forward into the unknown and risky. I think I have to say that this is a tricky one to play but it’s probably also the only play that could work. It may help that it actually happens to be good counsel for people willing to listen . . . but perceptions will count for more than truth in an election.

But Lawler is right that McCain has an advantage (if he can play it right) in that it appears that the origin of our economic woes may have something in common with Barack Obama (and I don’t just mean that Dems seem to be very closely tied to the Freddie and Fannie collapse).

Before I begin, my usual disclaimer when the topic is money, math or economics: I am--by no means--anything like an expert on this kind of thing so I’m speaking mainly to public perceptions and what I have been able to glean from my own poor attempts to understand the origins of this mess as an investor and home owner. To put it crudely, the mortgage meltdown appears to have been caused by a "new" idea in the world of finance. This idea of packaging bad loans along with good loans and, thereby, masking their otherwise poor ratings smacks of the same kind of arrogant young punk mentality that has, quite effectively, been pegged on Obama in the last few months. Further, I know that my in-laws and others of their (Depression baby) generation have been shaking their heads in disbelief as they have watched the young people around them (not us) "leverage" themselves right into bankruptcy--buying bigger homes than they need and expensive new cars every few years--believing that they could stay ahead of the curve forever because their home values were climbing so dramatically.

It may be a fair criticism of some of these older folks to say that their caution (and lack of internet savvy, to borrow from Obama’s playbook) is overmuch and that a little more openness to some new ideas might have given them more of a cushion for the coming tough times. But it has to be said that the reason the openness to new modes might have yielded fairer results with them is probably because they are already so well grounded in sounder (and old) ideas about wealth, how to create it and, more important, how to maintain it. There is, for example, certainly something to be said for the kind of prudence and fortitude that causes one to curb his appetites, live within his means, and stick to the tried and true modes of earning and saving for the good things that one wants. This is good advice, of course, because we can’t all have rich (if questionable) friends buy lots and sell them to us at below market value and at favorable rates.

While Republicans certainly do not have anything like a monopoly on this older, more sensible approach to wealth (greed is a universal part of the human condition) it is undeniably true (again, in public perception) that Republicans, generally, have done a better job of cultivating a respect for the past and for the virtues that made our past admirable, while Democrats have a reputation for scorning the past for both its methods and its admirability.

Just as I think there may be a lot of young guns looking to find comfort (and forgiving loans gifts) from an older and possibly wiser generation, it may be the case that we see more voters looking toward the candidate who more closely exemplifies that older ethic. Now is not a good time to gamble on a glittering possibility that may only be a mirage. Everything Obama says he wants is expensive. That will be hard to miss in the debates.

McCain should emphasize his record not only of being tough (his honor) but also of being sensible (his competence). Lawler is right about that. But he also has to be careful about putting us to sleep with arcane detail and engaging Obama in a pissing match of point and counterpoint in the debate. It looks like BS when they do this and BS is Obama’s forte. McCain can take the risk of oversimplifying the thing if he can do it forcefully and make some headway in making it more clear to voters. And, besides, there’s almost always a simpler explanation for why things have gone wrong than the wonks (who depend upon your mystification) would have you believe.

In addition, McCain should play up to his "Country First" theme by inspiring us to live up to the virtues that made our country strong (both martially and fiscally) and insist--emphatically, please--that we can and will achieve even higher levels of strength by adhering to the same virtues that made us strong in the first place. Perhaps we have taken some wrong turns in our haste to improve ourselves . . . but we can, and will set things aright. This is nose to the grindstone time . . . "getting back to basics" is a great way of putting it. Faith in our people’s capacities and in their patient forbearance through a difficult time (which, of course, will require serious cheerleading rather than obnoxious finger-wagging and is why Hillary Clinton is no where to be found) is needed much more than the promises of a dismissive, too-eager to prove himself "smarter-than-everybody-else-in-the-room," and amateur snake-oil salesman. At least, that’s how I might put it if I were McCain (maybe striking that last bit about the snake-oil salesman . . . maybe.)

Discussions - 14 Comments

Julie: who supported the deregulation and abdication of oversight that enabled the current problems? And are the "young punks" on Wall Street more likely to be Democrats or Republicans, fans of FDR and Robert Reich or Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand? Remember who it was who said early in his administration that excessive zeal by the SEC was the main drag on the economy.

Those who made their deregulatory bed should lie in it.

Or you could always try this.

Obama isn't the problem. And all of his creepy help from the corrupt corridors of Chicago isn't the problem. McCain knew how to handle them, as he demonstrated effortlessly closing in on Obama prior to the Conventions.

It's a brand new race, for it's a brand new matchup.

McCain isn't running against Obama, {the creature devoid of record, legislative accomplishments or present proposals}.

McCain's TRUE opponent just entered the field, ------------------------------------ and it's the media, or rather the Dem/Media/Government Axis.

The media has now concluded that carrying Obama is insufficient, because he's never had a real opponent, and because he hasn't a prayer of connecting with real Americans, despite their endless puff pieces on him, the wife, {but notably not his friends...}.

So something more will be required.

And what that "more" is, is the annihlation of Governor Palin as a political entity. That annihlation will be coupled with smears of McCain that never would they have allowed had it been directed against a Democrat.

Before defeating any opponent, it's crucial that the TRUE opponent be identified. That's a truism.

This race has morphed beyond McCain v. Obama; in retrospect, we see that happened the moment McCain chose Palin and indicated that he was in the race to win the thing.

Ever since, ever since his pick put the entire dem/media/government coalition at risk, ------------ the TRUE enemy has entered the lists.

It was easy for McCain to defeat Obama.

But no Republican has ever faced an opponent so powerful and so determined as that which John S. McCain faces.

But then again, few Republicans have ever had the mental grit that this former Naval Aviator has.

JUST LOOK AT THE EFFORTS involved to destroy the Republican ticket! LOOK AT THE credibility of the media that has been openly cast aside all for the purposes of destroying McCain! LOOK AT THE ACCUSATIONS they're making. It's UNBELIEVABLE.

Brett. As early as 2002, McCain tried to get Congress to clamp down on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--government backed, not truly private entities.

Richard: could be true, but because they're not really the problem - or the basic target of Julie's post - that doesn't obviate his (and his party's) deregulatory impulses, which were completely obscured in Julie's narrative.

The claim that Republicans are or will be the enemy of the "new" in the realm of finance is beyond the pale. They revel in it and want government to get out of the way (even to the extent of fantasizing about "drowning government in a bathtub"). The idea that McCain can overcome that by looking grandfatherly is wishful thinking.

And are the "young punks" on Wall Street more likely to be Democrats or Republicans

Democrats.

Any more silly questions?

who supported the deregulation and abdication of oversight that enabled the current problems?

Democrats.

Any more silly questions?

Awkard facts. If you're a liberal.

The date: September 11, 2003.

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt — is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.

Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.

Yes, the Democrats blocked needed reform and increased oversight of Freddie and Fannie. We should send the trillion dollar bill for this mess to Barney Frank.


Challenging the American people to a higher level of public virtue is fine as icing on the cake. If it's the main theme of McCain's domestic policy agenda, he will lose by 5 points. All in all, it's probably better to kiss the American people's collective ass.

Fannie and Freddie are not the source of all the problems here. But even if you do think that, why couldn't a Republican-controlled Congress pass a Bush-sponsored bill in 2003? From a quick look at the Thomas file, looks to me like the bill probably died in committee. Guess the leadership didn't really care about it.

There were lots of proposals to regulate FM in 2003, from both sides of the aisle. Remember HR.2022, the "Leave No Securities Behind" act sponsored by Shays and Markey, and co-sponsored by Waxman? Good times.

why couldn't a Republican-controlled Congress pass a Bush-sponsored bill in 2003? F

Because it takes a super-majority to get any bill through Congress. I'd like to think that people commenting on a political site are aware of such basic facts.

Guess the leadership didn't really care about it.

Are you talking about Chafee or Hagel?

All in all, it's probably better to kiss the American people's collective ass.

Doing that is what has brought America to the edge of the end. To a large extent there is no longer any such thing as "the American people'.

Fannie and Freddie are not the source of all the problems here.

Damn, is that the best spin the left can come up with? Fannie and Freddie are not to blame. (Because they are/were run by Democrats) In fact none of the companies involved were to blame. And Barney "No Problem" Frank is not to blame. The real problem, in some fashion you people can never quite explain, are "the Republicans".

I know you like to imagine yourselves as super-intelligent. Aren't you the least bit embarrassed with the crap you come out with? It's all so ten-year-old.

Julie,

your lack of knowledge in economics and finance really shows up in your post. I'm not sure whether its just your unfamiliarity with the topic or that conservative tendency to just blow off the facts. I guess this is why America is beginning to see John McCain as a dishonorable hypocrite. Not only displaying his incompetence but willing to lie and misrepresent his record with way too much ease.

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