Grown-ups Vs. Gramps
By: Mark W Adams

Did anyone notice the sharp difference in tone and approach between John McCain and Barack Obama's statements this morning on solutions for our Trillion Dollar financial crisis?  You should have.

McCain came out this morning, well in advance of Secretary Paulson's press conference, guns blazing.  "McCain all but blames Obama for the crisis."

He's a Maverick, by golly, and he'll fight, fight, fight the evil enemy dudes who conspired with Barack Obama to create this mess that makes him look bad for his lack of understanding of the economy when he'd rather be talking about lipstick.

How absurd.  I won't rehash the idiocy of someone who supported the policies that got us into this mess for 26 years blaming they guy he calls an upstart for a mess whose roots are founded in years of neglect, malfeasance and corruption.

The contrast with Obama this morning, flanked by respected financial leaders like Volker and Rubin was striking.  Calm, thoughtful . . . Presidential.  Here's what Perry at Young Turks had to say about it.
McCain went first at about 9 am. As I watched I saw him throw barbs
at Obama and speech in a very stilted, rehearsed tone. What message
would any passing very get from this speech? Its your average stump
speech that any candidate would give.

Obama came on
sometime after 11 am, and his had a completely altered tone. He came
out, flanked by economic advisors, and answered questions from the
press in a very serious manner. He expounded on points and sounded very
knowledgable. Then he said him and his advisors were going to get
together and come out with a more specific, detailed plan in the coming
days to deal with this. He also struck a very bipartisan, "we gotta
pull together and get through this together" chord, as well.
I think this is important, more important that what we in blogtopia (y!sctp) always say is important.  People decide these things by tone, what they see, hear and feel in their gut.  It's something that Obama exudes and McCain has forfeited with his gimmicks and slimy tactics -- gravitas. 

McCain's type of side show often works, but right now it's the wrong message at the wrong time.  It's like going to the movies when you're in the mood for a good laugh only to discover that the comedy you just paid for is some film noire with foreign subtitles.  It just doesn't sit well.

Mind you, both candidates are playing the hands the financial crisis dealt them, but Obama's demeanor, his careful "less is more" approach is masterful.  Amazing that the younger, less experienced candidate is the one who comes across mature and filling us with just the right emotional impression -- here's an unflappable guy who looks like he's in charge and knows what he's doing. 

Face it.  He's good.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out how it was possible that McCain won the GOP nomination when he was such a sniveling douche that had pissed off half of the Party.  It wasn't what he said or what his record showed.  It was all about reputation.  It worked for many in that field as well.  Guilliani was only there because of the image the public had of him as he filled the leadership vacuum left when George Bush disappeared during a crisis -- a pattern he repeated during Katrina and again this last week.

But at that moment, a wholly different type of crisis, Guilliani's gung-ho kick ass style is what we needed-- then.  We were scared on 9/11, but also pissed.  The look on Rudy's face, the way he marched through the streets, taking charge and too tough to wear a face mask so we saw the anger.  Yeah!  Let's kick some ass!

This crisis is different, a numbers crisis, although it's just as threatening to our way of life.  We again are scared, and pissed, but in a way we're pissed at ourselves.  Remember how even the thought of America in any way being responsible for the circumstances that lead to 9/11 where met with swift and decisive derision.  Certainly something you dare not utter let alone think, whether you were on the left or the right.  Truthers and Falwell types who blame teh gay are still ostracized for such irrelevancies.

Insisting that now was not the time for partisan squabbling showed me (at least) that Obama "gets it."  Going out of his way to tie Obama to the crisis diminished McCain's standing as a serious man who could provide thoughtful crisis management. 

At a time every Wall Street expert and leaders in Congress and the Administration were putting partisanship aside to avert a crippling depression the likes of which no one alive can contemplate, John McCain stood alone, maverickly demanding Obama give up "the lectures and just this once admit" his responsibility for something that is obviously systemic involving the decisions of hundreds of thousands of homeowners, investors, bankers, politicians, lobbyists and several presidents from both parties.

A sad and selfish display.  At times like these it's hard not ascribe to a certain amount of High Broderism, much as I usually detest such attitudes as fake and self-serving.  McCain simply didn't need to go there, not now.  This just wasn't the time for the cheap shots, not when he was presenting his plan to save us all from ourselves.  But with a the likelihood of adding another Trillion Dollars or two to the national debt, and we don't really know how many mortgages the taxpayers are going to buy or what they'll cost us, just this once John McCain could have acted like a grown-up.

At this stage of the game anyone who is swayed by policy proposals, governing philosophy, or adhering to their tribal roots has made up their minds.  Right now, as usual, it's up to the 5%, 7% or 9% who are unfathomably undecided, who really don't pay attention and might not figure it out until they walk into the polling booth.  And in a race that is still tight (much to the delight of the cable news networks), these folks who don't pay attention unless they're hit over the head will pick our next president on the most trivial and irrelevant of criteria.

These folks, to the point they are persuadable (and I think they're paying attention, finally) can no more visualize a Million Dollars let alone a Trillion.  Who really can?  They've no interest in learning why a "derivative credit-default swap" matters, because it doesn't touch their lives in the least.

More importantly, where Obama and McCain propose completely different tax and spending priorities, events of this past week have thrown those plans out the window.  By January there'll be a completely different financial landscape, and that reality will come crashing down upon both candidates' platforms. 

Knowing that, maybe those low-information voters are on to something.  When the dust settles, the character of our choice of who will lead us will matter a great deal more than any agenda they want to implement.  Our choices as a people just got narrowed considerably about what we are to do moving forward.  The how, and the ability to confidently inspire us to achieve that future matter much more than they did when this thing got started.

1 Comment:

shep said...


Obama = cool, smart.

McCain = erratic, nonsensical.