RE: McCain Ad Hits Obama and Democrats on Fannie/Freddie
4:50 PM, Sep 30, 2008 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Regardless of whether a bailout passes, this is a message that has to get out, not just for McCain's sake, but for the sake of capitalism in our country.
In the clip used in this ad, Clinton was asked if the Democrats weren't being just a bit disingenuous by saying it was "unbridled capitalism" that caused the crisis instead of acknowledging their part in propping up Fannie and Freddie. Clinton was honest in saying that they do bear some responsibility for the conundrum we're in now.
The message of Republicans (+ Bill Clinton) and Democrats on what got us here are diametrically opposed. Democrats want to evade responsibility and are brazen enough to blame the markets for their own meddling, thereby justifying-surprise!-loads of government intervention even beyond a possible bailout. Republicans have somewhat tepidly offered the notion that it was not the market, but government intervention in the market, that caused the problem. They are right, but conservative blogs, commentators, and honest reporters have done a lot of the heavy lifting in this department, as Republicans on the Hill tried to play bipartisan softball (and got hit with a series of partisan pitches for their efforts).
McCain has not helped by following the Democrat model of blaming Wall Street greed for all of our problems. I understand his need to sound a populist note, but what would also be rather populist is to explain how liberal elites in Washington had crashed the credit markets you and I depend upon as part of another failed social engineering experiment, which by the way yielded their party millions in campaign donations. They repeatedly ignored warnings of a crisis and, in many cases, worked against greater regulation of Fannie and Freddie only to claim it was John McCain's (yes, the McCain of McCain-Feingold) strict adherence to deregulation that got us here.
The unfortunate part of the messaging has been that until this ad from McCain, Bill Clinton (ostensibly a Democrat and Obama supporter) had been one of the best political figures at articulating the truth about Fannie, Freddie and culpability of Dems.
I watched floor speeches yesterday by Republicans for and against the bailout, and saw little of it. McCain pointedly missed the opportunity to wallop Obama on the issue in the first half of the debate Friday. When Obama trumpeted his own alleged calls for reform and blamed the crisis on deregulation, McCain demurred, only saying, "I supported reform also."
Even with markets holding strong today (and let's hope things stay that way), we may be on the brink of a huge, depressing, but necessary intervention in the markets. I strain against the idea, and hope it won't be necessary in its gargantuan form, but many conservatives I trust (Tom Coburn, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, The Heritage Foundation), have conceded that something probably must be done. McCain and Republicans cannot allow the lesson taken from this to be that if it hadn't been for those dastardly markets granted all that pesky freedom, everything would have been fine.
McCain making that argument will get more coverage than anything out of the mouths of conservative House or Senate members. I'm glad to see him going there, both on a philosophical and political level.