CNBC's Rick Santelli gestures frantically during his famous 2009 rant.Courtesy of CNBC
On Wednesday, the eight GOP presidential candidates will gather at Michigan's Oakland University for a debate about jobs. CNBC's John Harwood and Maria Bartiromo will moderate the debate, which makes a good deal of sense, because the event is being sponsored by CNBC. But then Mike Allen drops this bomb: "Jim Cramer, Steve Liesman, Rick Santelli and Sharon Epperson will join in the questioning."
Rick Santelli? Rick Santelli!? Are you kidding me? The Rick Santelli who helped kick off the first round of tea parties by referring to Americans with underwater mortgages as "losers"?
Santelli didn't seem to understand that many homeowners, rather than destroying the economy through their recklessnes, had actually been preyed upon—by banks, by lawyers, by guys like Florida foreclosure baron David J. Stern. Or perhaps he didn't really care. Either way, it made for pretty good television, and the charges have stuck. If you're looking for compassion from the candidates on stage tonight, you should probably reconsider. The event is likely to be dominated by Mitt Romney (who has called for the federal government to let foreclosures "hit the bottom") and Herman Cain (who said the unemployed only have themselves to blame.) Jim Cramer, the Mad Money host whose total blindness of the financial crisis—even as it was ongoing—led to this evisceration by Jon Stewart, will also be asking questions of the candidates.
Santelli's a terrible panelist for a rational, sober debate about economic policy and job creation. But luckily for him, that's not what the CNBC debate is supposed to be. As Media Matters notes, the network has advertised the event by airing an ad that asks, "How will candidates end the war on wealth?"