Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 27, 2008

BETTER TO REMAIN SILENT AND BE THOUGHT A FOOL.... Amanda catches this interesting tidbit from a Washington Post report on Thursday's meeting at the White House between the president and top members of Congress. We talked yesterday about John McCain's reluctance to step up and take the lead at the meeting -- indeed, he was reportedly reluctant to contribute anything of substance at all -- but this piece adds some remarkable details.

Bush turned to McCain, who joked, "The longer I am around here, the more I respect seniority." McCain then turned to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to speak first.

Boehner was blunt. The plan Paulson laid out would not win the support of the vast majority of House Republicans. It had been improved on the edges, with an oversight board and caps on the compensation of participating executives. But it had to be changed at the core. He did not mention the insurance alternative, but Democrats did. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressed Boehner hard, asking him if he really intended to scrap the deal and start again.

No, Boehner replied, he just wanted his members to have a voice. Obama then jumped in to turn the question on his rival: "What do you think of the [insurance] plan, John?" he asked repeatedly. McCain did not answer.

It seems to me there are two possible explanations for McCain's silence. One possibility is that this was an extension of what we saw last night -- he believes his rivals are beneath him, and he has nothing but contempt for those who question him, so he refused to engage in a policy discussion.

The other is that McCain had no idea what the grown-ups were talking about, didn't understand what the insurance alternative was, and knew he'd humiliate himself he tried to engage in a substantive dialog with a room full of people who knew vastly more than he did. As recently as Tuesday, he hadn't even read Paulson's three-page proposal, and within hours of the White House meeting, McCain was in Boehner's office, unfamiliar with the details of the House Republican proposal, so this could be part of a pattern.

So, McCain refused to talk at the White House meeting because he has contempt for his colleagues or because he's spectacularly ignorant.

I suppose it could be both.

Steve Benen 4:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

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Comments

There he goes again, needling John.

Posted by: coldhotel on September 27, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

He has negative amounts of clue but, unlike his running mate, he has enough of a self preservation instinct too keep his mouth shut. This way people can wonder -- is he an ignorant idiot or just being bitchy and condescending.

Posted by: Donna on September 27, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he was replaced with a pod.

Posted by: CarlP on September 27, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

a pod, and his spunky running mate, could only be a vast improvement for all.

Posted by: Donna on September 27, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

McCain seems to have a lot in common with George Armstrong Custer.

Posted by: Dennis - SGMM on September 27, 2008 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

With regard to the House Republican proposal, I think it's important for us to understand why the insurance program that House Republicans are advocating is a bad idea.

Here's a clear explanation from the Washington Post article that Steve linked to in his post--

"[House Republicans propose that] banks should have to pony up money for a new federally administered insurance program, like the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Banks suffering from mortgage defaults would then be able to draw funds from the insurance pool to remain solvent.

It was not a new idea, White House and Treasury officials said. Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke had considered a similar option and rejected it. For one thing, asking banks teetering on the edge of bankruptcy to pay into the insurance fund would be like asking a patient facing heart surgery to buy health insurance before being wheeled into the operating room. The banks would be too weak to pay, and the cost of the insurance would be so high, drawing on the fund after a round of mortgage foreclosures would merely be repaying the banks what they had paid in.

Besides, one Treasury official said, it would do nothing to address the problem at hand. Banks would have no more money than they do now to lend. And they would still be holding the bad assets that are making it impossible for them to borrow."

Note also that their proposal includes capital gains tax cuts and an accounting change that actually reduces the transparency of financial statements of institutions that hold mortgage backed securities.

Posted by: CJ on September 27, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

You cannot tell McCain he is wrong on anything without making him your enemy. "I will get you" is always what his demeanor is posing should you challenge him.

Next...McCain has admitted on several occasions that he doesn't know or understand economics. He has always been told what to say on the subject with others telling him what he should think about it. If he would have been forced to answer even the most basic of economic questions he would not have been capable of doing so. What is it about graduating 894th out of 899 grads that observers are slow to grasp. The son of Admirals still could not get a better placement than 894th tells me that without such parents he would not have even graduated at all. Unfit for command is not a put down...it's the truth.

He pretends to know things he hasn't a clue about. He's a con and always has been and has gotten away with it by sympathy of his POW status and people keep thinking they need to show him respect and he milks it for all it's worth. Stop treating McCain with any respect and you will begin to see the real McCain emerge..."I'll get you, you little bastard or you f**king c*nt. I'll get you".

Posted by: bjobotts on September 27, 2008 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Between those options of explanation, I don't know which is more troubling.

However, having been particularly removed from all discussion on the process, admitting he had not read the Paulson proposal and a history of explaining away his economic ignorance.

I believe it could only be that he did not want to reveal his ignorance on the matter. He had, for heavens sakes, just that morning re-announced his intentions to 'suspend his campaign' so he could partake in the bailout discussion being held (one would assume).

To expose himself at that point would have drawn immensely more criticism to this charade than he already had.

What is going on inside the mind of an undecided voter?

Posted by: TBone on September 27, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

"I'll get you, you little bastard

And your fucking dog, too!

Posted by: Ken on September 27, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'm just imagining McCain serving out the rest of his term in the Senate. He's going to be a bitter little man.

Posted by: on September 27, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain has a huge sense of entitlement. He thinks the country OWES him the presidency. That's where the 'ambition' comes from, and that's why he brings up the POW thing at every opportunity. How better to make your case for the presidency you think you're entitled to than to try to guilt the country into voting for you.

It chaps his hide to no end, to realize he has to jump through all these hoops in order to achieve it. Whether it's picking Sarah Palin (who he never wanted) in order to appease people who otherwise hate his guts, to engaging in all these stunts that have cost him the deference and respect of the media base he worked so long and hard to cultivate over the past 20 years, to having to demonstrate knowledge or interest in anything that doesn't involve bombing or killing people, to realizing how far behind in polls he is to this young, savvy Democratic Senator, the resentment of these impediments to something he deserves, DAMMIT, is eating him up inside.

No wonder he doesn't want to look Obama in the face, or even acknowledge his existence. It constantly reminds him of what he's being unfairly denied!

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on September 27, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Someone had written a story about Bush's seeming refusal to ask questions. It was determined that he didn't know what he was supposed to know, so instead of asking questions to obtain necessary information, he just went with his gut.

Good luck America!

Posted by: TBone on September 27, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

I actually met John McCain once, back in 2001.

The man I met was nothing like the good guy described by the press in the 2000 campaign. And I did not meet him as an adversary - I was an organizer and sponsor of the first town hall meeting for the McCain-Feingold campaign reform effort. The man was a cold fish.

Feingold, on the other hand - that guy is a prince.

Posted by: Jennifer on September 27, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

The insurance plan will be a direct subsidy to the financial industry.

But, Obama's plan is to pass a $700 billion bailout of the finance industry quickly. He claims that tax payers should take the risk of a loss (very great risk!) but in the event of a profit, taxpayers should get the money back.

I still have to ask, why progressives are so intent on investing federal money in the stock market, which is what all these plans do. Not investing, really, but subsidizing. After all, you went through hell trying to stop the government from investing in private retirement accounts, now Obama wants to invest in the private stock market accounts of wealthy.

Why is that? Anybody figure this out?

I have a possible answer, progressives in Congress have no clue and are just believing Paulson, whatever he says.

Or, possibly, the chicken has come home to roost for progressives, and they are hung on their own petard. Their favorite government programs are at risk in a financial restructuring and they would rather pay off the rich then lose face.

You tell me, has the Democratic party become the party of the wealthy? Are the financial giants executing a well planned blackmail?

Posted by: MattYoung on September 27, 2008 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

"You tell me, has the Democratic party become the party of the wealthy?"

That's the stupidest thing I've read here all day.

You work for the McCain campaign, yes? Figures.

Posted by: Helpful Heloise on September 27, 2008 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

That's the stupidest thing I've read here all day.

You must have been missing Matt's other posts all day long.

Posted by: Danp on September 27, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK
But, Obama's plan is to pass a $700 billion bailout of the finance industry quickly. He claims that tax payers should take the risk of a loss (very great risk!) but in the event of a profit, taxpayers should get the money back.

Actually, Obama is recommending that taxpayers should get an equity stake in the banks when they buy the bad mortgages. Which means:
1) Taxpayers assume the risk of the mortgages, true,
2) If there is a loss on the mortgages (likely), taxpayers end up losing money, but
3) Since the taxpayers get an equity stake in the banks, taxpayers are likely to end up with some value even if all the mortgages are entirely worthless (extraordinarily unlikely), and if the banks recover well, the taxpayers could make a profit even if they suffer a sizable loss the mortgages considered in isolation.

I still have to ask, why progressives are so intent on investing federal money in the stock market, which is what all these plans do.

Progressives, liberals, and just plain sane people in general are interested in mitigating the effects of the current financial crisis before it turns it snowballs into a massive recession or outright depression.

Something built on the outline of the Paulson plan in terms of its main mechanism, but with radically more oversight and some potential return for taxpayers is the common proposal because (1) it builds on the administration proposal and therefore maximizes the chance, among sane alternatives, of getting something passed and implemented doesn't get swallowed up in partisan bickering, (2) there is some reason to believe it might actually do something to contain the effects of the progressive collapse we are experiencing.


Posted by: cmdicely on September 27, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think McCain knew the details of any of the plans, which makes his dog and pony show this week look all the more reckless. McCain mentioned about fifty times last night that he wasn't known as Miss Congeniality, and I don't doubt that. I don't think you could print what most of his colleagues are probably calling him today.

Posted by: Mark S. on September 27, 2008 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

But , of course, McCain flew straight back to Washington after the debate to save the bailout & the nation?

Posted by: Eric on September 27, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

I don't see any other way to put it, but MattYoung you're an idiot.

How is it that you, somehow, are able to blame 'progressives' for this debacle? Where have you been the last 7 years?

It was Paulson's proposal to bail out the banks with tax payer money, without questions asked, and no possibility for review.

FYI:
1) Paulson works for the Bush Administration.
2) The Bush Administration promotes Republican ideals.
3) Republicans ideals are favored by Conservatives.
4) Republicans favor small government and deregulation
4) Those ideals created the market failure.

The conclusion: since the markets failed under Republican market ideas, Republican ideology is WRONG and proven to be unworkable.

Does that clarify it for you?

Posted by: bruno on September 27, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Another question about the debate. For me, the strangest musing of the night was this:

"You know, we spent $3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if that was a criminal issue or a paternal issue, but the fact is that it was $3 million of our taxpayers' money. And it has got to be brought under control."

A criminal issue? Like, we need to have bear DNA on file so that if a grizzly attacks, we can identify it and trace it to its home address?

A paternal issue? Do bears file paternity suits against each other?

Was he perhaps thinking of Montana's chubby and unshaven gay male population?

Someone really needs to ask him what he was thinking when he said this.

Posted by: lampwick on September 27, 2008 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

No mention in your post of possibly the oddest aspect of MCain's silence. These were just the sort of meetings he suspended his campaign and threatened to forgo the debate to be a part of. The entire reason for his midweek theatrics was to rush back to DC and impose his will upon the process. Certainly he or his advisors lusted for and believed when the dust settled on the bailout it would be McCain that was seen as the driving force behind hammering out the final agreement. It wasn't until he actually was faced with the enormity and complexity of the issues that he chose stoney silence? That speaks volumes about his lack of planning, foresight and introspecton.

Posted by: steve duncan on September 27, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

...McCain was in Boehner's office, unfamiliar with the details of the House Republican proposal...

Boehner wasn't familiar with the details either. Not that there were many details to be had. The general principles--all of one page--are now available on Boehner's web site here (pdf). (NB: document author is "ECantor" created 9/25 18:21.)

I'd guess McCain thought he could parachute in, make a splash, the deal would be baked, and he could claim victory. Only instead he dropped into a revolt brewing in the conservative ranks, and got stuck between playing to the conservative base and playing bipartisan rainmaker. With no easy way out, he kept his mouth shut and decamped to Oxford.

Posted by: has407 on September 27, 2008 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

That one was ignorance. He is in way over his head and doesn't understand what the hell is going on.

Posted by: Dave G on September 27, 2008 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

4) Republicans favor ineffectual government

fixed your typo

The Reeps have no problem with big government, as long as it serves as a money funnel for them and doesn't actually do anything...and as long as our kids and grandkids have to pay for it.

Posted by: Bob Loblaw on September 27, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

lampwick: Was he perhaps thinking of Montana's chubby and unshaven gay male population?

Or perhaps those smarmy short-selling bears on Wall Street?

Posted by: has407 on September 27, 2008 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

sorry "bears on Wall Street" should read "bears threatening Wall street".

Posted by: on September 27, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Matt,

You tell me, has the Democratic party become the party of the wealthy?
The short, simple, not very correct but responsive answer is "no". The short, simple, more correct but unresponsive answer is "we're all doomed". Go read up on full-line supply. Albert Breton, The Economic Theory of Representative Government (1974). There's a good chap.
Are the financial giants executing a well planned blackmail?

Lots of planning went into building the secondary MBS market, although a financial meltdown wasn't one of its objectives. So very loosely speaking, you could say that, I guess. Congress and the financial sector are now locked in a bilateral monopoly in this crisis (that's what makes it a crisis, in fact), and mutual "blackmail" is just the way negotiation works under that constraint.

Posted by: Jassalasca Jape on September 27, 2008 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Well, of course John McCain is both contemptuous and ignorant; knowledge---and the wisdom to use that knowledge wisely---are wholly and undeniably elitist to a flippant little twit such as he. Why, he'd wet his pants if he ever had to think for himself in a serious, Commander-in-Chief manner, without a teleprompter and a dozen or so handlers.

Thus, one might legitimately argue that "McNero piddles while America burns...."

Posted by: Steve on September 27, 2008 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Loblaw: John McCain has a huge sense of entitlement. He thinks the country OWES him the presidency. That's where the 'ambition' comes from, and that's why he brings up the POW thing at every opportunity.
~~~
Sounds about right. Reminds me of former Rep. Duke Cunningham... the guy was a true hero, a Top Gun, and thought that entitled him to, well, accept bribes & perks. He got busted.

Meanwhile... here are four videos worth watching and passing along:
Sarah Palin, Couric interview part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2x_ohCdnzs
~~~
Obama is right, McCain is wrong
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG1aOORf8Pc
~~~
John McCain’s Keating 5 problem:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAzDEbVFcg8&eurl=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/09/24/john-mccains-keating-five_n_128807.html
~~~
Really John?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g5Wl2gg6o8

Posted by: Hannah on September 27, 2008 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

The conclusion seems pretty obvious to me. McCain was there shopping for a political adavantage, but there wasn't one available.

Posted by: JoeW on September 27, 2008 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Why is no one talking (or blogging)about the weak answers to Leher's very reasonable question: "How are you going to pay for the bail-out"?

Part of McCain's stock answer on savings was to promise to switch the Pentagon from "cost plus" to "fixed price" weapons system acquisition programs - a hold-over from the John Lehman era that made the federal books look better for a while at the expense of major corporate losses. When the Pentagon can't specify what it wants very clearly but reserves the right to accept or reject the result, you can't fairly ask industry to accept a fixed price contract. There are no private sector examples of multi billion dollar fixed price development contracts for complex systems like new fighter planes, and look at the cost growth on even simple government projects like the Reagan Building and the Capitol's new Visitors Center.

This old chestnut deserves more attention than it has been getting to date. Pentagon cost growth really does need attention, but McCain seems ready to take the wrong approach.

Posted by: NH Lib Indie on September 27, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Warning: I am a complete ignoramus on the principles of finance but that isn't going to deter me from asking my question.
It seems to me the problem with an insurance plan is that a failed loan would be made whole by the carrier (taxpayers) at full value (more or less) but a straight buy out of the risky loans could be made at a fire sale price (20 cents/dollar?). It just seems we are going to buy the bad loans either way, since we are the carrier, why not buy them at a deep discount?
Ok, As I said, I don't know what I am talking about so someone explain to me why I am full of it.

Posted by: Layne on September 27, 2008 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Given the high levels of petty vindictiveness shown by both McCain and Palin, when they lose, each will likely blame the other. The fallout could be spectacular. Should we be that lucky, I'm shallow enough that I'll be thoroughly enjoying every minute.

Posted by: N.Wells on September 27, 2008 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

I've recently run into news about how the Bush administration were 'partners in crime' in the subprime/predatory lending mess that led to this crisis. Eliot Spitzer wrote an editorial in the Washington Post on February 14, 2008, entitled "Predatory Lenders' Partner in Crime" where he directly accuses the Bush administration of tieing the hands of all 50 state attorneys general in their litigation of predatory lending practices. Has anyone else here been aware of this? Spitzer got politically assassinated just three weeks after this piece was published. Please read it to get an idea of the collusion between government and the banks. Outrageous.
Why is no one in Congress talking about this? It wasn't 'just' the mortgage lenders and investment banks. They were aided and abetted by Bush.

How the Bush Administration Stopped the States from Helping Consumers

Posted by: nepeta on September 27, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama's persistent, though fruitless, questioning of McCain during the WH meeting may be one reason why McCain was so angry at Obama during the debate. Obama made him look stupid in front of his right wing buddies because he had no idea what to do about the financial crisis.

Posted by: RAM on September 27, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like McCain has alot in common with Clarence Thomas. Two not-overly-intelligent bumps on a log that add absolutely nothing to a discussion.

Posted by: Lori on September 27, 2008 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

People should listen up and pay attention when Saint John pulls snits like this, is stricken with Obama deafness, and refuses to even acknowledge he's in the room - because it's a very significant example of what kind of bipartisanship you could expect from a President McCain. All that rubbish about "reaching across the aisle" is just more Republican bullshit. He wouldn't even acknowledge there were Democrats in the Senate if they didn't have a majority.

He's just like Bush. Spiteful, mean, petty and narrow-minded. He acts like a three-year-old and expects to be deferred to because he's The Great Maverick. He and Palin are not "going to Washington to shake things up" - they're going to shake it down. Feel free to use that if you like it, Barack.

orange

Posted by: Mark on September 27, 2008 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Right now I hate you all so much I'm not even looking at the screen while Cindy types this.

Posted by: John McCain on September 27, 2008 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

I think Obama's persistent, though fruitless, questioning of McCain during the WH meeting may be one reason why McCain was so angry at Obama during the debate. Obama made him look stupid in front of his right wing buddies because he had no idea what to do about the financial crisis. Posted by: RAM

I think that should be "made him look stupider."

McCain is not a well-educated, worldly or thoughtful. Like Bush, he got where he did as a legacy and managed to parlay POW status into a political career that never should have reached beyond the borders of Arizona.

Posted by: Jeff II on September 27, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

i think it's simple: he didn't want Obama to know where he stood prior to the debate.

Posted by: bob on September 27, 2008 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Here's another way to interpret that sentiment, but about Palin:
http://www.amconmag.com/larison/2008/09/26/t-minus-six-days/

Posted by: Neil B on September 27, 2008 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

Nepeta: I don't think there's any question Spitzer was shitcanned as a direct result of his trying to get in the way of the massive Wall Street theft operation. He was directly targeted, not accidentally caught up in a sweep. I feel confident this will all come out in the end.

Unfortunately it's already too late for Spitzer, but at least he has his own inherited money and beautiful wife to comfort him. Most people screwed over by this mess will lose their homes & much else.

Posted by: David H. on September 27, 2008 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

Your analysis is pretty shallow. He didn't want to commit, and certainly not to be forced into a premature commitment by his opponent.

Posted by: pourmecoffee on September 27, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Secs. of State & Defense: Turkey is atacking the Kurds! Orders, sir?

Pres. McCain: [no response other than angry glare]

Posted by: rea on September 27, 2008 at 9:38 PM | PERMALINK

i think it's simple: he didn't want Obama to know where he stood prior to the debate. Posted by: bob

And we find ourselves is pretty much the same situation after the debate.

McCain doesn't have a position because he doesn't know dick about the economy. He kept saying we have a fiscal crisis when what we meant is a financial crisis.

Posted by: Jeff II on September 27, 2008 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Looks like great minds think alike (see my post above at 7:12) concerning Obama getting under McSame's skin during the WH negotiations prior to the debate. See Josh Marshall's post at at TPM concerning a piece by Jonathan Weisman. One certain way to piss off J. Sidney is to diss him in public. Apparently.
Maybe we can still look forward to a Captain Queeg moment yet...

Posted by: RAM on September 27, 2008 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Steve,

There are three words to describe you: IN THE TANK! ;)

Posted by: Johnn Henry on September 27, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

John McCain likes the spotlight, but has never really led and so he didn't know what to do in that meeting.

He didn't object, question or discuss plans. He didn't compare plans. He wouldn't answer questions about his opinions of the plans.

He just sat there. He's not a leader.

Posted by: MarkH on September 27, 2008 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK
Your analysis is pretty shallow. He didn't want to commit, and certainly not to be forced into a premature commitment by his opponent.

Now, that's inane, if not stupid.

Not committing on this pretty much undercuts the entire reason why he pulled this stunt of suspension.

NOt to mention that he could have shown leadership in developing alternatives or developing the current plan.

Posted by: gwangung on September 27, 2008 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

If McCain won't even negotiate with democrats, how can we expect him to work with Russia, Iran, or Pakistan?
He's not like Bush, he's much worse. And if that doesn't make you crap your pants........

Posted by: Lew Scannon on September 27, 2008 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

"It just seems we are going to buy the bad loans either way, since we are the carrier, why not buy them at a deep discount?"

he problem is that you were bulled into guaranteeing the bad loans, you were bullied into it years go by the finance gurus who wlll make out like bandits.

Plain and simple, the bailout was planned very early on, and I can go back and see the bond and stock kings working up to this point with their lobbying efforts.

You, the progressive voter, spent so much air time demanding "no retirement funds" invested in the stock market, that you forgot to understand there is a printing press for money, you pay for it anyway!

Posted by: Matt on September 27, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

David H,

I agree with everything you said. I just wish MSM would report on the administration's part in all this. I haven't heard a peep of blame, other than for the Republican penchant for lack of regulation. The fact that they took a direct role in the creation of this mess by interference with state law and attorneys-general goes way beyond 'economic philosophy.' Spitzer said that all 50 AGs, Republican and Democrat alike wanted to pursue fraudulent lenders but were kept from pursuing litigation against state lenders by the federal government. This charge probably has nothing to do with the behavior of the big investment banks, but if the big guys couldn't have gotten millions of subprime loans from state-based lenders the subprime crisis would not exist.

Posted by: nepeta on September 27, 2008 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK

This crisis has been coming on for awhile. I was at a conference in Denver a year ago June. One of the presenters told us that he was advocating for helping small businesses glbalize "before it is too late". Some investment bankers invited him to dinner afterward and he gave them his spiel about helping small businesses before the economy sinks. He said they laughed at him and told him "it is already too late" then went on to rail about how they were draining all of their assets out of the US for the soming depression and that "there will be rioting in the streets when the have-nots figure out that they will never be haves..." He was stunned and told them he was ashamed that they would give up on America. The man;s name is Rob Slee. Sadly, at the time, the wealthier business owners I dined with later that evening pooh-poohed his "negativity" and of course, went on to praise Bush as the greatest President ever...

Posted by: Always Hopeful on September 27, 2008 at 11:41 PM | PERMALINK

McCain didn't say anything at the WH meeting because he was too pissed to talk and didn't want the cameras to catch him blowing his stack.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on September 27, 2008 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

I was thinking it's likely that McCain saw clearly the need to "shake things up" to wrest the headlines away from tanking poll numbers, Palin's meltdown, and the worsening Rick Davis maelstrom.

Beyond that, it wasn't simply that he doesn't understand economic fundamentals--it's that he wanted the cachet of brokering a bipartisan negotiation without the political risk of championing one plan or another.

He knew that backing a failed plan would make him look impotent. And if he picked a particular horse and successfully shepherded it thru (how's that for a mixed metaphor?) he knew he wouldn't understand enough about the details to know which of his flanks he'd just exposed to voter ire. He'd be stuck defending a plan he couldn't even explain.

So instead, he rolled the dice, threw his little "campaign suspension" curve ball, and hoped Bush and the GOP Congressional wing would hammer out the specifics with the Dems, after which they could make him out to be the Great Conciliator, with an assist from the media.

Unfortunately, no one--not Dems, not House Republicans, not the press, not even David Letterman--was buying, and Obama called his bluff both on the debate thing and in the WH meeting. I can see why McCain was steamed!

Posted by: Lionel Hutz, attorney-at-law on September 28, 2008 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

The McCain campaign reminds me of a battleship that's taken hits for and aft yet is slow to sink.

Or perhaps an Aircraft carrier that's been shelled to high heaven yet continues to function.

Posted by: Bub on September 28, 2008 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

That McCain knows so little about economics to have admitted to the extent that it made its way onto video tape, makes his avoiding eye contact with Obama make total sense.

Economics is McCain's Achilles heal. He doesn't know the first thing about it. This is a huge problem for him on so many levels, but especially given that economics is the biggest issue on the table right now.


And there is Obama asking McCain what he thinks about the issue at the high level meeting. At that point McCain can't say anything because he knows nothing but what he's freaking out about is the fact that he suspects that Obama knows just how little he knows about the subject. So Obama asks McCain what he thinks about it several times, only McCain can't answer.

It's not just a case of being inadequate on a key subject. Its a case of where your adversary isn't - which is intimidating enough. But also it's a case of where your adversary calls upon you several times to comment - and in each time, in a sense, humiliating you.

Perhaps McCain's mind is flooded with a cascade of thoughts that goes like this: I deserve the presidency, I am better than these fools, I shouldn't have to pick Palin, I shouldn't have to debate, I shouldn't have to do all these things, - I shouldn't have to campaign against an African American, I don't know thing one about economics, I was last in my class at the Naval academy, Obama attended Columbia, Harvard where he lead his law class, taught at Chicago, oh my God he has command of these issues and I'm clueless and I have to debate him tomorrow night, and I have to say over and over again that he doesn't know what he's doing.

Yeah, I can see why he couldn't look at him: there was humiliation, fear, anger and the moral conflict of having to lie to his face about all of this. In short, he's insecure.

Posted by: Bub on September 28, 2008 at 4:55 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's behavior seems (frighteningly) familiar to me.

My grandmother has dementia. One new characteristic of her conversation is that she'll refuse to speak, sometimes scoffing, giving off an air of utter disdain.

When she's feeling less threatened, though, she'll admit she doesn't quite understand what's happening or what's being discussed, and it upsets her because she KNOWS she's slipping.

It's sad to see this irrational behavior in a formerly brilliant, rational woman. Seeing it in a man running for President scares me to death.

Posted by: Chris on September 28, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

But simply by SHOWING UP he changed the whole dynamic in the room and shook those Washington insiders UP and got the off the DIME.

It was his heroic presence, the sheer force of his personality, embodied in his stony silence, that got to them at the core and made them realize just how serious this whole crisis is.

He suspended his campaigning (except for going on TV, running ads, etc.) in a heroic way, putting the good of the country above his own political campaign. And this personal heroism shamed everyone into listening, finally, to the good ideas, for Main Street, of Republican House leadership, who had been shut out of the negotiations until John McCain personally intervened.

This is your Republican Talking Points (tm) memo for Sunday morning.

Posted by: And a pit bull would have made a better Vice President, too. That's TWO things. on September 28, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

McCain't emPOWered the others at the meeting by saying nothing (and not blinking) he was serving as an example of independence and bipartisanship.

Actually, I think he was desperate not to show his hand until he felt like it was safe to commit to a position. He came into the meeting with the "game plan" of saying as little as possible, and trying not to let anything splash on himself.

Posted by: melior on September 29, 2008 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

By the time McCain stepped into the meeting, he apparently had still not read the three-page Paulson plan, let alone any later (and longer) draft, and so was utterly unable to make any coherent comment -- he would have sounded like his running mate answering Katie Couric -- but he had the good sense to keep his mouth tight shut.

Eveyone in the room understood exactly what was going on between Obama (asking repeatedly "What do you think of the plan, John?") and McCain (keeping silent) -- which is why McCain was furious and humiliated, could not look at Obama during the debate, and did not return to the Capitol meetings afterward.

Posted by: Pyre on September 29, 2008 at 5:47 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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