Thursday, September 18, 2008

The crisis: Does Team Obama have a clue?

(Note: Blogger is malfunctioning at the moment. I have no idea how many versions of this post will appear on the site, or where on the site it will show up.)

We don't exactly have equal treatment of gaffes, do we? Every time the left press catches McCain in an embarrassment -- the Spain thing, for example -- they harp on it incessantly. But when Obama makes an even worse error, the progs pretend it never occurred.

Case in point: The bailout of AIG -- which amounts to the nationalization of the company, although we must never use that phrase.

At first, Obama seemed to oppose the na...the bailout, probably under advice from Chicago-schooler Austan Goolsbee. Actually, his first statement managed to be both critical and non-committal. As for Joe Biden -- his first reaction seemed clear enough:
No, I don't think they should be bailed out by the federal government.
Well. Excuuuuuse me for thinking that this might be Obama's position as well.

But then it occurred to these genuises that strong government action was the only thing keeping the entire financial system from shredding. Without the bailout, today's Wall Street rally would not have occurred. That's when Obi decided that he supported the, the bailout. Well, not "support."
He just didn't oppose it, I was told.
So McCain, going by first impressions, chews out Obama for not supporting the nationalization-that-dare-not-say-its-name. Which would seem like a reasonable point to make, right? And here's Obi's response...
"And today he accused me of not supporting what the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank did with AIG despite no evidence whatsoever that that’s what I had said."
Biden's statement wasn't "evidence"? All of which leads Jonathan Martin to ask...
Where, I wonder, is the line between not opposing and, ya know, supporting.
Looks to me as though Obama bought time by offering words that sounded bold but were actually non-committal. Amazingly, the prog pundits are okay with this.

The financial crisis is the issue of the moment. This is Obama's opportunity to demonstrate vision and boldness. Instead, he's all over the map like an overturned bucket of warm gelatin.

Josh Marshall thinks that we're supposed to cheer Obama's squishiness. We're supposed to consider McCain at fault for not keeping up with Obama's shifting positions. And we're supposed to give a damn about whether John McCain forgot the name of the guy running Spain right now.

The headline on TPM: Obama Hits McCain As Economic Flip-Flopper.

There's truth in that charge. On Tuesday, McCain said that he didn't want taxpayers on the hook; on Wednesday, he said that he decided that the bailout might be a necessary evil. In other words, he changed his mind. At least he let people know what he was thinking without trying to double-talk his way out of taking a stand.

But the "flip flop" charge is pretty galling when it comes from a candidate who would not issue a clear statement until he held up his own flipper in the air to feel which way the wind was blowing. Now Obama talks as though he favors the bailout strongly (as opposed to his previous position of "non-opposition"):
On Tuesday, he said the government should stand by and allow one of the nation's largest insurers to collapse, putting the well-being of millions of Americans at risk. But by Wednesday, he changed his mind.
Okay, this passage seems to be pro-bailout -- but look closely at these words. Nowhere does Obama actually say whether or not he supports the bailout. This gives him flipping room if the winds should change direction once more.

Let's talk flip-flopping, shall we? Obi has a history. I cite but two examples:

1. In 2007, Obama slammed Hillary with campaign literature that said "I don't think NAFTA has been good for America -- and I never have." But in 2004 he issued this statement: "The United States benefits enormously from exports under the WTO and NAFTA."

2. In 2007, he slammed the Iraq surge as a terrible idea. Earlier this month, he said that the surge had "succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated.” And he removed all anti-surge rhetoric from his website.

We've always been at war with Eastasia. We've never been at war with Westasia.

Returning our attention to the current financial crisis, I must ask: Does Team Obama have a clue? Let's go back to Joe Biden's interview:
No, I don't think they should be bailed out by the federal government. I'll tell you what we should do. We should try to correct the problems that caused this. And what's caused this? The profligate tax cuts to the very, very wealthy that John wants to continue.
Say what?

Look, I never supported the tax cuts to the wealthy. I think that we now have to reach deep into the wallets of the wealthy, because our red-ink nation needs cash and that's where the money is. I also suspect that only a Republican can pull off this trick, just as only a Nixon could go to China.

But Biden was supposed to be addressing the AIG bailout, which was all about the mortgage crisis. (AIG insures all of those wacky financial instruments based on mortgages.) For Biden to talk about tax policy in that context is akin to saying "This car needs a paint job" after a tire blows out.

Yes, it's true: When ideology collided with reality, McCain changed his thinking. But let's face it -- the Democrats still don't know what to think.


orionATL said...

joseph cannon

doing good reporting


reporting opinion with footnotes. i like that approach. i'd like to see it more widely practiced in the weblog world.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cannon. It is nice to see that I wasn't the only one who was like, "What the...? They are just going to let him get away with that?" reaction from O-man's response to the AIG development.

I can't tell you how liberating it is to have choice in reporters these days. Keep up the good work, and consider writing a short pamphlet on journalism to send to all major news networks.

Anonymous said...

this is the biggest problem of capitalism and free(?) market - when there is any economic problem, politicians are the ones who come to solve it (especially now, with elections knocking on the door). And they are using the only logic - to get (re)voted, nothing else matters...
I believe it's a duty for good journalists to reveal what's behind politicians' words and what impact their steps will REALLY have...