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Flippity, Flippity, Flop, Flop, Flop

26 September 2008
Oops, I flip-flopped again!

Oops, I flip-flopped again!

What’s wrong with the media?  They are having a laissez-faire discussion about whether John McCain is practicing good politics in his recent showboating instead of focusing attention on the fact that the man just can’t make up his mind.

Is John McCain a leader or just a desperate candidate who only cares about winning the next election?  The answer to this question is clear if you watch the man who would be king’s behavior over the past ten days.  Republicans love to wave their hands in the air and shout, “flip-flop, flip-flop,” when referring to changes in position by Democratic candidates.  Well, Republicans, where is your “flip-flop” now?  I’m not hearing it.

Several days ago I wrote in this column that McCain had flipped and flopped on this Wall Street bailout issue like a fish left on the beach at Galveston after the hurricane tidal surge went back into the sea.  I have been mystified to watch as the Senator – who touts his wisdom and years of experience – continues to change his position on this issue daily.  On Wednesday he dramatically suspended his campaign in order to “go to Washington and save the bailout bill.”  That’s what he said.  Then after a tour of New York City to give interviews and a speech, he blows into Washington pretending to be the great savior of the day.  Within hours, with nothing to say on the matter in public or in a White House meeting with his President which he said we desperately needed, he sided with angry House Republicans to kill the very deal he had rushed in to save.  “Flip-flop!”

Then treating us all like we’re totally stupid, his operatives appeared on every air wave they could find to use this unbelievable stunt to claim the whole thing showed not only what a “maverick” McCain is, but also his great ability to act in a bi-partisan manner.  Are you kidding me?  The only group he has worked with and is siding with is the most conservative portion of the House Republican caucus, which has used him to hijack the bill.  The real bi-partisan work was being done by – let’s get this right, now – a Republican President, Democratic Senators, Republican Senators and House Democrats.  I’ve never been a genius at math, but I believe the prefix “bi” indicates the number two.  I don’t think that working with House Republicans in any way qualifies or quantifies as a claim of bipartisanship.  So, on one side of this equation we have Republican + Democrat + Republican + Democrat = bipartisanship.  On the other side we have Republican + 0 = unilateralism.  I think I got the math right.

John Boehner and House Republicans

Now, let’s take a look at what the House Republicans are demanding for their support.  After everyone else has put in safeguards, oversight – that means enforcement of regulations – and a way for the taxpayers to at least get something back for the $700,000,000,000, the House Republicans have come up with their own surprise plan in the 11th hour after McCain rides into town.  What are they wanting?  First, they want Wall Street bankers to pony up their own money to finance the bailout through investments or some sort of insurance scheme.  I like that.  They also want less regulation on the markets and banking business.  WHAT?  Isn’t that how we got here in the first place?  After all that’s happened, they want their version of “free-market” economics to continue on as though none of this has happened.  Incredible!

Oh, and one last little plum that Republicans have been after for quite some time, either a reduction in the capital gains tax or a complete abolition of it.  In other words, they want to reward the bad boys of Wall Street with a tax cut.  Whose side are they on, anyway?  You guessed it.  They’re on the side they are always on: the side of those who have so much money that they don’t even know what the inside of a Wal-Mart looks like.

Now, that’s where McCain stands today, next to the rebellious House Republicans.  In other words, he has returned to his roots: no government regulation of the banking business.  “And just wait until I’m president, and I’ll fix the healthcare system in exactly the same way,” he promises.  Once again, McCain shows that it isn’t change that he’s interested in.  He just wants to continue the same old policies that got us here in the first place.

John McCain

John McCain

That brings me back to the issue of leadership.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really know what the best course is for our nation with regard to the meltdown of our financial markets, but I’m not running to be President of the United States.  I’ll also admit that I have hated the kind of stubbornness that George W. Bush has shown time and time again in the face of evidence that would change the mind of a reasonable man.  BUT a man who changes his mind every day on an issue of this magnitude is not a leader.  Leadership takes a steady hand – not foolishly stubborn, but steady.  What we’ve seen for ten days now is a cool and calm Barack Obama clearly stating that the problem must be addressed, but not without the kinds of checks and balances that protect the American taxpayer from taking a hit of enormous proportion.  What we have seen in the same ten days is a John McCain who is floundering around for an answer, any answer, as long as it wins him the election in 39 days.

We’ve seen Republican pundits flood the airwaves talking about how smart John McCain is to muddy the issue rather than addressing it at his political peril.  They have praised him for his gamesmanship.  It is clear that all the Republicans care about – and this includes McCain himself – is winning the election.  They seem totally disinterested in what happens after that.  They don’t care where McCain stands on the issues.  They don’t care that Sarah Palin is a joke out on the interview trail.  They just want to win the race.  I guess this shouldn’t come as any surprise from the party who doesn’t believe in a working government.  We’ve had almost eight long years of a government that doesn’t work at any level, and that’s what Republicans like.  So they are just trying by hook or by crook to sell the American people on four – or eight if they’re lucky – more years of the same madness.

I call it madness because it fits the definition of madness.  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome is the clinical definition of madness.  Watching this is certainly driving me mad.  But more than that, it just makes me angry that they might get away with it one more time with the help of their buddies in the media who don’t call them on their bullshit.

Wake up, and fight back, America!  It’s our last chance!

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