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McCain Rushes Back To Washington To Save Bush’s Bailout Plan

25 September 2008
Ali Velshi, CNN

Ali Velshi, CNN

What’s wrong with the media?  Too often they let their own personal positions outweigh any real perspective or questioning of a particular issue.

The coverage of the continuing financial crisis by MSNBC and CNN this morning couldn’t have been more different.  We had Ali Velshi on CNN fast-talking his responses to decidedly angry e-mail comments from regular people – that would be us out here.  And when I say fast-talking, I do not exaggerate.  He was pushing President Bush’s line hard as he stressed that this is not a bailout, and it’s not about helping Wall Street bankers who have plunged us into this mess.  He assured CNN’s viewers that it was in their best interest to support the President’s plan because otherwise it would be virtually impossible to get that car loan or mortgage loan that you may need, not to mention that credit card companies might lower your line of credit.  Dire!  Dire!  Very dire!

Mark Haines and Erin Burnett

Mark Haines and Erin Burnett

Over on MSNBC at the same time, financial analysts Erin Burnett and Mark Haines were painting a very different picture.  While they were also expressing the need for the bailout plan – and they weren’t running away from the word “bailout” – they were also injecting some reality into their talk.  Ms. Burnett posited that there was no guarantee that liquidity would return to the borrowing market just because of the bailout, and Haines agreed.  When Joe Scarborough asked Haines if he was optimistic that the economy would turn around and become sound within the next five years, Haines became visibly uncomfortable and admitted that there was little evidence that supported an optimistic view.

I’m sure we would all like to believe the fast-talking Velshi, but I am far more inclined to trust the words of Burnett and Haines who seemed reluctant to jump on board the Bush Express.  Why might that be?

President Bush

President Bush

Let’s back up to last night.  George W. Bush commandeered the airwaves last night to finally bestow his wisdom on us, the American People.  We know he was bestowing wisdom because he left his Gilligan face in the Oval Office and came out wearing his mushroom cloud face.  Dire!  Dire!  Very dire!  The man who brought yet another debacle down on our heads, stood there, taking no blame, and resorted to his old fear tactics to get what he wants.  Haven’t we seen this before?

That’s right, we saw it earlier in the day when John McCain abruptly “suspended” his campaign to focus on this dire emergency.  Oh, and by the way, did he mention that it would be improper to have the political debate on Friday?  As a matter of fact, he did.  Unilaterally, John McCain has decided he knows what’s best for us all.  Doesn’t this sound a lot like the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?  As a matter of fact, it doesUnderneath all this manufactured drama on the part of the McCain campaign are two components: sagging poll numbers, and a revolt by Republican House Members against this bailout.  McCain took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.  First, he would upstage Obama – who had initiated dialogue with him earlier in the day on the topic – Pearl-Harbor style and grab the public initiative on the issue.  McCain had barely gotten off the phone with Obama, agreeing to release a joint statement on the matter, before he appeared before the cameras to stab his opponent in the back.  Et tu, John?  Another dishonorable moment to add to the many that have gone before it.

The second component, and this is just as important and telling, was that he needed to rush back to Washington to quell the revolt of his fellow Republicans who were being inundated by their constituents back home demanding they not back the bailout.  Now, old John McCain has played his hand in a very cagy manner – well, that is except for changing his position on the whole thing from day to day or even hour to hour.  Day before yesterday he refused to commit to backing the bailout plan which sent panic through his own party members in the House.  Now, to their credit, House Democrats smelled out the trap being laid by the Republicans for once and didn’t take the bait.  Instead they made it clear that they weren’t going to vote for a Republican President’s bailout plan while his own party stood on the sidelines for political points.

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan

This scenario forced McCain’s hand.  Pundits had dotted the airwaves – including that foxy old Pat Buchanan – stating that the best position for McCain would be to vote against the bailout knowing that it would pass.  That way he wouldn’t be held accountable if it fails.  “I was against it all along.”  But the “maverick” isn’t that big a maverick.  He really doesn’t want to let his supporters on Wall Street and in Big Corporate America down by abandoning them in their hour of need.  But his fellows over in the House Republican Caucus have to go home and face voters in 40 days, and are scared to death.  So he was forced to show his hand and rush back to Washington to cajole his recalcitrant party to get on board the bailout train.  Busted, John!

I have to admit as a Democrat that it does bring about a certain amount of glee on my part to see the Republicans squirming in the mire they have created for themselves and the rest of us.  But as far as the bailout is concerned, I’m still not convinced that it’s really necessary.  My wife and I read the tea leaves back when Bush was re-elected four years ago and decided that the times ahead for us as we approached retirement were not looking good.  We sold our luxury downtown-view condo in Houston and took the money and paid off our debts and bought smaller digs out here in the country to weather the storm.  It’s been rough at times, but we’ve managed – without credit.  So I’m not at all moved by an argument that my line of credit will be limited if I don’t help bail out Wall Street.

I still don’t see anything to bail out Main Street in this crisis, and Main Street has been in decline and trouble for some time now.  Today, while Wall Street started climbing out of its self-dug hole in anticipation of help from Uncle Sugar, they totally ignored more bad news for Main Street.  Lost in the crisis hype around Wall Street, unemployment claims reached the highest levels in seven years, and new house sales fell 11.5%.  To me it just looks like we’re returning to “business as usual.”  Wall Street wins; Main Street loses.  When will the bleeding stop for average Americans?


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