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Monday, June 09, 2008

Bush III -- Only Worse

John McCain has joined the 21st century. The McCain Report, the McCain campaign's new blog, promises to "provide journalists and bloggers with a little more insight into what's going on over here, to provide quotes and information you won't be able to get anywhere else, and to serve as a point of contact for online media."

In reality, it's a pretty kiss-ass attempt to attract frustrated Clinton backers and bash Obama with dishonest claims at the same time. When I first checked the blog, there were three posts -- the intro post, a post accusing Obama of being "changey," and a Clinton poaching post that consisted entirely of the message, "Attention disaffected Hillary supporters, John McCain is a huge ABBA fan. Seriously," and a YouTube video of ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me."

It didn't take long for Team McCain to get down to the lying. That second post, titled "McCain: Obama's Positions Are So Changey," takes on his opponent's statement to the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

Obama later backed off that statement. Fair enough; inconsistency is inconsistency. That'd be a pretty fair shot. The problem is that Team McCain goes on from there and strays into LiarLand with an incomplete quote.

Update: The AP does a fact check on Obama's Jerusalem statements: "Obama is trying to have it both ways, but there is nothing new about that."

If you follow the link, you see that McCain was kind of hoping you wouldn't. The Straight Talk Express commits a lie of omission. McCain hopes you'll read "there is nothing new about that" as being a statement that Obama takes both sides of an issue often. This is creative editing. "Obama is trying to have it both ways, but there is nothing new about that," Associated Press wrote. It goes on, "So does President Bush. President Clinton did, too." In other words, there's nothing new about any candidate taking this position, not Obama in particular.

And then there are lies that are so obvious that you'd have to have an untreated head injury to fall for. In a post titled "Hillary Out" -- about Clinton's concession speech -- Team McCain tries to convince you that they just love them some Hillary.

Senator Clinton also didn't mention John McCain once during her speech. This came as something of a surprise over here, and a pleasant one at that. But it's clear that John McCain and Hillary Clinton respect each other -- and there is a genuine affection for her here at McCain HQ. During her speech there was no small amount of pleading with the TV: 'Don't do it, you can still win!'

Really? And what would've happened if Clinton had won the nomination? Judging from the blog, you'd half-expect McCain to drop out rather than run against "an impressive candidate" who "inspired a generation of women," but sadly, "fell victim to a vast left-wing conspiracy." Unfortunately, anyone with a brain knows that all the attacks on Obama in other posts would've been directed just as fiercely at Clinton. Which gives us a hint at which demographic McCain is shooting for here -- the brainless.

And that's not the only indication of McCain's preferred demo. Since Team McCain is beginning to hear things like "Bush III" and "McSame" directed at their candidate, they've gone to ridiculous lengths to convince the brainless that this isn't true. It's not McCain who would be Bush's third term, they argue, Obama would be.

Bloomberg News:

Douglas Holtz-Eakin said the only similarity between McCain's economic plan and Bush's is a commitment to keep taxes low.

"Sadly, it seems that is all President Bush understood in the economy," Holtz-Eakin said in an interview to be broadcast this weekend on Bloomberg Television's "Conversations with Judy Woodruff." It is Barack Obama's budget plan, not Senator McCain's, that resembles Bush's policies, he said.

"It's dedicated to the recent Bush tradition of spending money on everything," Holtz-Eakin said.

If we leave the way McCain would pour money down a rathole in the Iraqi desert aside for the moment, this argument is still insane. Since McCain is committed to making Bush's top heavy tax cuts permanent, almost everything McCain proposes requires deficit spending. The Center for American Progress tells us, "Like Bush, McCain is likely to drive up the national debt by trillions of dollars. Bush took a debt of $3.4 trillion – and headed down – up to $5.4 trillion. McCain’s budget plan would drive the deficit to $12.7 trillion." What McCain promises is more debt, bigger deficits, and more money squandered on pointless and unnecessary military adventures overseas.

Sounds like Bush III to me.

If we look at McCain's economic adviser, it's pretty clear that his ideas represent no change from Bush policies. In fact, you could argue that he'd be worse. As Bush so often has, McCain has chosen exactly the wrong man for the job -- former Texas Senator Phil Gramm.

In a piece for Mother Jones, David Corn calls Gramm "Foreclosure Phil" and puts him near the heart of the mortgage meltdown.

Who's to blame for the biggest financial catastrophe of our time? There are plenty of culprits, but one candidate for lead perp is former Sen. Phil Gramm. Eight years ago, as part of a decades-long anti-regulatory crusade, Gramm pulled a sly legislative maneuver that greased the way to the multibillion-dollar subprime meltdown. Yet has Gramm been banished from the corridors of power? Reviled as the villain who bankrupted Middle America? Hardly. Now a well-paid executive at a Swiss bank, Gramm cochairs Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and advises the Republican candidate on economic matters. He's been mentioned as a possible Treasury secretary should McCain win. That's right: A guy who helped screw up the global financial system could end up in charge of US economic policy. Talk about a market failure.

Gramm also bears some responsibility for the failure of the huge, gazillion dollar pyramid scheme that was Enron. I'm sorry, did I say "bears some responsibility?" I should've said "was a principle cause." Corn tells us that Gramm was responsible for legislation that "contained a provision—lobbied for by Enron, a generous contributor to Gramm—that exempted energy trading from regulatory oversight, allowing Enron to run rampant, wreck the California electricity market, and cost consumers billions before it collapsed." Gramm's wife served on Enron's board.

"Now that Gramm has resurfaced in national politics, he surely deserves to be arraigned for his long history of service to powerful interests, dating from the Enron scandal and beyond," writes Joe Conason at Salon. "But for most Americans, the dubious connections of McCain's lobbying pals, including Gramm, should be less worrisome than the likely results of yet another four years of Republican economic nostrums. Gramm's career stands for the false promises of right-wing ideology and the troubles that such schemes, embodied in legislation, have repeatedly inflicted on us."

Not even hard righties can bring themselves to pretend to be so stupid as to buy into McCain's "Obama is Bush III" argument. "That is the silliest thing I have ever heard!" right wing columnist and frequent cable news talking head Robert Novak told Bloomberg TV recently. "And I won’t even dignify how stupid it is." Personally, it comes as some surprise to me to find out that Novak -- who outed CIA op Valerie Plame for Karl Rove -- isn't one of the brainless. I guess he's "brain challenged" or something. Imagine that. You learn something new every day.

But looking to Gramm for financial advice is just a continuation of Bush's "fox guarding the henhouse" hiring policies. McCain, deeply entrenched in Republican economic policies, is Bush. Supply side or "trickle down" economic theory rules supreme in his mind -- despite the fact that no one's ever gotten it to work. Supply side economics is at its most basic bass-ackward, assuming wealth is generated by production, not consumption, and consumers will reap the benefits of high prices by some sort of magic. But the truth is that money moves up the economic ladder much more easily than down. When you buy a loaf of bread, you don't get that money back later. Supply siders assume you will. Supply side would assume those high gas prices are good for you, since Exxon and company are making insane amounts of money and that's going to "trickle down" somehow into your wallet.

Haven't noticed that happening to you, have you? That's because it doesn't work. I doubt it's supposed to. It's just a way to rationalize an irresponsible economic policy that benefits the wealthy at everyone else's expense.

"I believe that what Senator Obama is advocating is a return to the failed policies of the '60s and '70s-bigger government, higher taxes-and certainly not the same view on national-security challenges," Baghdad Johnny says.

As if the policies McCain proposes haven't failed. Gramm's policies didn't just fail, they were unprecedented financial disasters. He also neglects to mention that Hillary Clinton had her own proposals for "bigger government" -- universal health care, for example. Of course, McCain's painted himself into a corner on Clinton -- in trying so hard to poach Hillary backers, McCain's cut himself off from criticizing her. Reading his blog, you'd think he'd marry her if he could. And now that she's going to be stumping for Obama, McCain's going to have a hard time answering her charges or criticizing her message. If he does, he risks losing what few Clintonistas he's managed to scoop up. McCain is one person praying Clinton won't be the running mate.

You might say that's a strategy a brainless candidate might follow. But since McCain chose "Foreclosure Phil" Gramm as his financial wiz, brainless just might be the best description for him.


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1 comment:

JuiceMag said...

If i was an American, i'd not vote for him!