I find it hard to believe that with things as bad as they are and with McCain so much a part of the party that brought us to this place that he continues to spew acid on the campaign trail. Whatever happened to apology and accountability? How much more attractive that would be. I continue to pray that the people of this country wake up and see the difference between Obama-Biden and McSame and McPain.
The Alpha Dogs Bark
These times are so perilous that George W. Bush emerged from his burrow on Friday to reassure the American people about the financial crisis.
Looking either grim or overmedicated, Bush spoke for several minutes — 1,260 words worth of reassurance. That was a far more ambitious effort than the day before, when, as Politico’s Roger Simon noted, our president devoted 100 fewer words to his public utterances on the collapsing economy than he did to toasting the president of Ghana at dinner.
Anyway, by the time Bush got around to making his speech, or at least a speechlet, Bernanke had already made the plan public. The stock market had rallied, and if the president had just stayed inside practicing his pending welcome for the Boston Celtics, the world would have little noted nor long remembered.
“This is no time for partisanship,” Bush concluded.
Bipartisanship! That’s the ticket. There have been more vicious political eras in the nation’s history, but probably never one in which so much vitriol has been mixed with so many demands for reaching across the aisle in fellowship.
Down in Florida, Barack Obama was also endorsing a bipartisan approach to the rescue. For good measure, he also tacked on a call on both parties to join together in backing “an emergency economic plan” crafted out of a whole bunch of things that the Republicans are never going to support in a million years.
Obama declined to provide many specifics. The most notable thing about his performance this week — besides his really extraordinary skill in packing large numbers of economic advisers onto a stage — has been his calm. Even this late in the campaign, it’s hard to tell whether it’s the product of wise serenity or a low metabolism. But, under present circumstances, it was definitely soothing.
John McCain, on the other hand, was angry. Still. He had been angry Monday, when he blamed the financial crisis on greedy speculators, and on Tuesday, when he blamed it on people who didn’t respect the American worker. He was furious on Wednesday, when he blamed the crisis on C.E.O.’s with golden parachutes until it was pointed out that one of his highest-profile advisers, Carly Fiorina, had sailed out of Hewlitt-Packard with a 24-karat whopper. On Thursday, he was mad at the head of the Securities Exchange Commission.
On Friday, McCain looked steamed when he gave a new policy speech in Wisconsin with Sarah Palin at his side. The Republicans have discovered that McCain can’t draw a crowd without Palin, and the dangers of letting her float off by herself are apparent. So the two are manacled together these days like Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in that old escape-from-a-chain-gang movie.
McCain’s proposals were pretty much in line with the emerging Washington consensus. The real theme of the speech was assignment of blame. Normally at times of great national trauma top politicians say they want to avoid finger-pointing. But the McCainian digit was ready for action, and its owner assured the audience that he had found “plenty of places to point.”
The main culprit, the finger’s final resting place, turned out to be — Obama! His opponent, McCain claimed, took campaign contributions from officials at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and had a couple of former C.E.O.’s of Fannie Mae as advisers. “In a McCain-Palin administration, there will be no seat for these people at the policy-making table,” he vowed.
Given the amount of time the campaigns have spent arguing about the misdeeds of advisers, I think we might all be better off if the term was eliminated completely. From now on, everybody who is invited to consult with a candidate should be referred to as “complete-stranger-who-dropped-by-to-tal
Actually McCain’s remarks were a bit more muted than on Thursday, when he helped restore the financial markets’ shattered confidence by accusing Obama of responding to the crisis with “the kind of me-first, country-second politics” that “sees an economic crisis as a political opportunity instead of a time to lead.”
Still, he managed to get himself pretty riled up, culminating in a claim that people like Obama were “too busy gaming the system” to fix things, and that the junior senator from Illinois, despite his brief career in Washington, was smack dab in the middle of a “culture of lobbying and influence-peddling” that created the whole financial crisis.
He ended with a call for bipartisanship.