Razin' McCain



Like a lot of Americans, I can't get a firm grasp of the frightening nightmare on Wall Street. The confusion I've heard from the Palin/McCain campaign this week hasn't made me sleep any easier.


Let's recap what might have been the Disastrous Duo's worst seven days of the political season. It started Monday, with John McCain's famously defiant insistence that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong" — a claim that, were he already in the Oval Office, would rate somewhere between "I am not a crook" and "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" on the highly scientific Presidential Horsehooey Richter Scale. It was later "corroborated" by the even more dubious claim that he was actually referring to Americans' collective work ethic, which is roughly the same kind of faux-populist dream logic that made Toby Keith lyrics a fundamental part of our national security. Within hours, McCain refuted himself, admitting that our economy is actually at risk. He was also resolutely against federal bailouts and increased regulation, until — repositioned by Phil Gramm and Carly Fiorina, presumably — he came out in favor of them. (As of press time, he was against them again. Sort of.)


Then, on Thursday, McCain made the hypothetical, but no less blustery, call for the head of SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, despite the fact that, well, presidents just can't do that. (Not even those who succeed in rewriting the Bill of Rights.) By Friday, he had abandoned that shaky post, too. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, was in Ohio this weekend, asserting that the situation called for "some shakin' up and some fixin'." (Yeah, what exactly has the House Committee on Shakin' Up and Fixin' been doing, anyways?) She also proclaimed that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — two privately held companies before last month's life raft — had gotten "too expensive to taxpayers." It would have been only slightly less accurate had she supported McCain's dressing down of Cox by spouting the statistical record of the Southeastern Conference.    


In the middle of this perfect storm of incompetence was one surprisingly calm voice of reason. Fiorina, the ousted CEO of Hewlett-Packard and one of McCain's chief economic advisors, rightly judged Palin (whom she went on to group, in worsening explanation, with Barack Obama, Joe Biden and, yes, John McCain) as unfit to run a major corporation. Unsurprisingly, Fiorina's lips were summarily zipped. And with that, the Republicans' lone straight talker this week went silent.      

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