Archive for Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wall Street woes harder on GOP ticket

September 18, 2008

- David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


— Someday, we will learn. When it's September and important issues cry out for attention, but we seem consumed by trivia - watch out.

In September 2001, cable news and even some "serious" newspapers were preoccupied with Gary Condit, a married California congressman who had an affair with a Justice Department intern who disappeared and later was found murdered.

It was all-Condit all the time in the news - until Sept. 11, when something far more consequential happened and Condit slipped back into obscurity.

This year a calamity has occurred in the financial world. The nonsense about Sarah Palin's family dynamics and other matters, down to and including lipstick on pigs, has been banished by the mayhem on Wall Street as ruthlessly as the Condit story was erased seven years ago.

Once again, New York has become the focus of the nation's eyes, which guarantees that the mass media concentrated there will keep this economic crisis story where it belongs - at the center of attention.

The presidential candidates certainly recognize the change. It took less than 24 hours after Sunday's dramatic developments involving Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and AIG for John McCain and Barack Obama to prepare new statements and fresh ads on Wall Street issues.

But McCain stumbled at the outset with a comment that the economy is "fundamentally sound," and the Democrats pounced. Obama, campaigning in Colorado, delivered an unusually tough critique of McCain's long record as an advocate of deregulating markets. Obama was reinforced in an orchestrated chorus of Democratic voices, liberated from their preoccupation with the governor of Alaska and her family.

Neither man had much to offer in the way of advice. The meetings of Treasury, Federal Reserve and banking officials in New York were dealing with questions of such technical complexity and financial importance that the politicians knew better than to intervene.

The lack of content does not reduce the political significance of what has happened. For months, McCain's managers have understood that his biggest challenge is that eight out of 10 Americans think the country is moving in the wrong direction. To overcome the voters' natural inclination to punish the party in power, there are relatively few things McCain can do.

One is to sow doubts about Obama and his prospective actions, and McCain has been assiduous in doing that. He and his cohorts have questioned Obama's experience, criticized his tax policies and challenged his approach to energy issues.

Another is to create a narrative that diverts attention from the voters' fundamental dissatisfaction. That was the purpose of McCain's reform initiative - a narrative rooted in his own rebel personality and anti-establishment history, reinforced by the choice of Palin as his running mate. That story line was well-launched at the Republican National Convention and it visibly tightened the race.

But now the structural weaknesses in the economy - already visible in rising unemployment and stagnant incomes for most workers - have caught up with some of the most famous players in the game. The jobs and savings sacrificed in the great stock market sell-off were significant in themselves. And these were potential Republican voters who took this shellacking. They and their friends and neighbors will be that much harder to enlist in the McCain cause.

The larger effect is the psychological damage to an electorate already struggling to maintain any optimism about the country and its future. For all the excitement Palin has generated, the national mood is still a major barrier for McCain and the Republicans.

There may be other external events that jolt the presidential race - and the debates are still to come. But for now, Wall Street and its woes are causing big problems for John McCain.


KEITHMILES05 9 years, 7 months ago

Don't expect anything substantial from McCain as he has declared he knows very little about domestic policy.He reinforced that with this stupid comment about the fundamentals of the economy are sound.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 7 months ago

About $700 billion in investments vanished.CRIME: Who has history with financial institutions going south such as the savings and loan scandal? Republicans!Neil, George Jr., George Sr., and Jeb BushThe Savings and Loan industry had been experiencing major problems through the late 60s and 70s due to rising inflation and rising interest rates. Because of this there was a move in the 1970s to replace the role of S&L institutions with banks.In the early 1980s, under Reagan, regulatory changes took place that gave the S&L industry new powers and for the first time in history measures were taken to increase the profitability of S&Ls at the expense of promoting home ownership.A history of the S&L situation can be found here: is important to note about the S&L scandal is that it was the largest theft in the history of the world and US tax payers are who was robbed.The problems occurred in the Savings and Loan industry as they relate to theft because the industry was deregulated under the Reagan/Bush administration and restrictions were eased on the industry so much that abuse and misuse of funds became easy, rampant, and went unchecked. Additional facts on the Savings and Loan Scandal can be found here: are several ways in which the Bush family plays into the Savings and Loan scandal, which involves not only many members of the Bush family but also many other politicians that are still in office and still part of the Bush Jr. administration today. Jeb Bush, George Bush Sr., and his son Neil Bush have all been implicated in the Savings and Loan Scandal, which cost American tax payers over $1.4 TRILLION dollars (note that this is about one quarter of our national debt).Between 1981 and 1989, when George Bush finally announced that there was a Savings and Loan Crisis to the world, the Reagan/Bush administration worked to cover up the Savings and Loan problems This information was kept from the media until after Bush had won the 1988 elections.

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