Exhibit 12.17

At this point it's clear who has seized the momentum in the current economic environment. It's not really even McCain's fault, honestly. He just so happens to represent the party that has pushed deregulation and privatization for the past 30 years at a time when it's abundantly clear that the former didn't work and the latter would have meant disaster for those depending upon Social Security (e.g. most everyone). Oh, right, I guess that does mean it's a little his fault.

No matter what you think of the collective memory of the American electorate, it's not hard for people to look at the stock market and know what privatizing Social Security would have meant. Nor is it hard for them to see through the blatant hypocrisy of these bailouts being engineered by a Republican administration which couldn't have shed the mantle of individual responsibility, privatization, and small government fast enough once it became clear a significant number of banks were going to fail. Thank god that, at least for the moment, the brakes are being put on the bailout plan so that it isn't just a trillion dollar giveaway to incompetent (yet over compensated) CEOs who, rest assured, aren't going to be giving that money back once they're in the black. I don't know, I guess I feel like since I'm going to be paying for AIG for the rest of my life, I might as well, you know, own some of it.

Anyway, I mention it only because a full week after the dominoes started falling John McCain just announced he's suspending his campaign and is asking to delay this Friday's debate in order for both parties to come together in order to solve the problem. On a purely political level, it's an interesting move but no less risky than his choice of Palin for the ticket (how's that working out, senator?). It's clear that whatever bounce he had coming out of the convention wasn't sustainable so again we have McCain throwing a Hail Mary and hoping that this will somehow make him seem like a decisive economic leader. It could work, I guess, though it's hard to imagine enough people being convinced considering there's no reason he couldn't have done this a week ago and actually gotten something done. As is, McCain's certainly going to piss off Bush who believes he has a solution (and is going on TV tonight in order to convince you he has one too) and has already pissed off the Obama camp who have an interesting choice to make themselves.

On the one hand, if Obama capitulates he plays into McCain's hand. On the other, he doesn't want to play the politician while McCain gets to be the bi-partisan hero for a plan that is more or less agreed to in principle.

(There were three things holding the plan up, none of them McCain's absence from Washington:
1. House members didn't want to do it now since taxpayers hate it and they're all up for election.
2. Dems, rightly, wanted oversight and a restriction on CEO pay in addition to a chance for at least some money to come back the government's way.
3. Even if the details could be agreed to, both parties seemed a little tentative in how their nominees would end up on the issue. Mostly, McCain didn't want to tie himself further with Bush while Obama was afraid that if he came out in favor of a modified Bush plan that McCain would oppose it for political reasons and leave him holding the bag. By the way, this totally would have happened and still might.)

The most likely scenario at the moment is that Obama's camp punts and says A) We haven't been campaigning anyway due to the debate prep and B) Senator Obama has been working with leaders including the McCain camp on a solution and C) It's not our decision to delay the debate and until we hear otherwise we intend to be in Mississippi on Friday. If they want to get really frisky they'll call for the debate on Friday to be at least partially about economic issues and then say something like, "We agree with Senator McCain but, for obvious reasons, feel like the debate should go on in order for the American people to hear each candidate's position on what should be done."

If it were me, I'd say that last move would be their best gambit here. I think they're comfortably enough ahead that they can take the high road while they let the media point out that there is no reason (other than sliding poll numbers) for McCain to call for this today as opposed to yesterday, last Friday, or last Tuesday. There's also bound to be more talk of Palin's experience level over this, especially after what's been the disaster of her trip to New York. Plus, no one thinks McCain is the economic wizard who is single-handedly going to fly to Washington and solve this problem.

Another interesting, if ironic, wrinkle: this move by McCain actually delays any sort of bailout package and could potentially have an adverse affect on the stock market tomorrow. If he'd stayed out of it, something probably would have been figured out in the next few days. Now it's anybody's guess because he's made it a partisan issue by pretending it's not one (which, again very ironically, it actually really wasn't before. Sure, the bailout didn't sail through, but that's mostly because it's an awful plan without a clearly better option). If the markets open down tomorrow and the bailout breaks down along party lines in the coming days, this certainly isn't going to look like McCain coming to the rescue.

1 comment:

A. Peterson said...

Ah, it keeps getting more interesting. Apparently Palin mentions the U.S. potentially being on the path to a great depression in her upcoming interview with Couric. Assuming that language was intentionally used--and god help the McCain camp if it wasn't--it seems like their new strategy is to basically convince the people of America that this is a crisis of epic proportions.

All of this was clear, if not a little more epic seeming, last week so we'll see if it comes off a shamelessly political in the media as it seems to be in reality. It also bears wondering if this actually helps the McCain-Palin camp in any way but that seems to be secondary to just trying to hit the reset button on the last few weeks and trying to seem presidential.

Not surprisingly, the Obama people say the debate is on and now Harry Reid is opening questioning what either Obama or McCain could achieve by asserting politics into the process at this point. I now feel like my long, humorless blog post has been strangely vindicated.

Of course, nothing will ever vindicate commenting on my own blog. Nothing.