Deer in Headlights

| Tue Sep. 16, 2008 5:15 PM EDT

DEER IN HEADLIGHTS....This is pretty laughable:

At a rally [in Tampa], Mr. McCain vowed to take aim at what he called the "unbridled corruption and greed that caused the crisis on Wall Street."

Mr. McCain — who has said for months that he believes that the fundamentals of the economy are strong — has used the word "crisis" a lot on the last day to describe the financial situation. He did so in a series of television interviews Tuesday morning, where he called for the creation of a commission to study the problem, along the lines of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

McCain has been running ads for weeks saying that he'll "reform Wall Street and battle Big Oil" — claims that usually prompt me to burst out laughing when they pop up on my TV. If there's a person in the entire country less likely than John McCain to reform Wall Street or battle Big Oil, I'm not sure who it is.

Of course, it would be a lot easier for Democrats to scoff at McCain if they hadn't mostly supported all the same financial deregulation that he did. I have my doubts that repealing Glass-Steagall contributed much to our current problems, but in any case the repeal was supported by Robert Rubin and Larry Summer and signed into law by Bill Clinton. Ditto for the Commodity Futures Modernization Act a year later. What's more, Democrats were mostly pretty happy about the rapid growth of subprime loans to low-income house buyers during the boom years, and a bunch of them supported the 2005 bankruptcy bill too. Hell, last year Senate Democrats couldn't even bring to a vote the biggest no-brainer of all time: a bill to close the carried interest loophole that allows billionaire hedge fund owners to avoid paying income tax at normal rates.

It's true that Barack Obama has some good ideas about re-regulation of Wall Street, and it's noteworthy that he's had these ideas for a while. McCain, conversely, is like a deer in headlights: he has no clue what's going on, so all he can do is keep repeating the word "crisis" like a windup doll and then call for a commission to dig up some answers for him. Not exactly inspiring leadership.

Still, Obama's job would be a lot easier if Democrats had spent the past eight years acting like Democrats. Think they'll learn a lesson from this?

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