When John McCain and Sarah Palin take office next January they are going to be expected to follow through on their promises to reform Washington. The possibility of McCain’s election is based on two factors, his choice of Sarah as his running mate and his campaign pitch as a reformer. The new McCain campaign is less than a month old and already there are signs emerging that he may not be able to maintain his new image until Election Day.
His first big test is his response to the meltdown of Fannie, Freddie and AIG. In my opinion, both McCain and Palin have fumbled the ball. I am prone to give Sarah the benefit of the doubt because I understand that she has a duty to express views consistent with those of McCain, at least, during the campaign.
Many conservatives including myself see her as the future of the conservative movement and hopefully, the Republican Party. Consequently, I may be more critical of her statements and actions than I otherwise might be. I watched the two-part interview on Fox with Sean Hannity and a couple of times I was disappointed in her performance.
I also was disappointed with Sean’s conducting of the interview. At times it seemed as though he was auditioning for Larry King’s replacement on CNN. Sean asked all the right questions, but in such a softball manner that it appeared he was more intent on not damaging the image Sarah has built up among conservatives and independents than in getting an accurate picture of her position on the issues.
On one occasion he broached the accusation made by Democrats that she was “for the bridge to nowhere, before she was against it”. She replied with a good exposition of her position following cancellation of the bridge project and a good explanation of the reasons. However, she did not answer the question asked, which was more about her initial support or non-support for the bridge before the project became politically unpopular nationally.
I already knew that she supported building the bridge when she was running for Governor, and that she had changed her mind after being elected. Since the price tag for the project had gone from $200 million to $400 million and Congress, because of the unfavorable publicity, had withdrawn its support, I understood her change of position and thought it was the right thing to do. What bothered me was her reluctance to answer the question in a straightforward manner. Sean did not follow-up on the question.
Another answer that bothered me was in response to a question on her position concerning the collapse of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and AIG. For a minute, it appeared as though she had forgotten which ticket she was running on. Her answer could easily have been from the Obama camp except that she did not blame Bush. Instead she blamed Wall Street, Lobbyists, corporate greed and stockholders. She did not mention Congresses’ involvement at all. Again, Sean did not follow up.
On Thursday, McCain repeated the same list of culprits and for good measure threw SEC Chairman Chris Cox into the mix, stating that if he was President he would fire him. McCain should know that the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission does not serve at the pleasure of the President. He is appointed for a specific term and cannot be fired without proof of misconduct or malfeasance. He should also know that the failures of Fannie and Freddie were not regulatory failures, but rather management failures, and the SEC does not manage the companies it oversees.
There were many causes for the failure of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac including mismanagement, corruption, poor judgment and a host of others. The “first cause” however was its efforts to carry out the mandate of Congress to maximize mortgages to low income applicants in order that more minorities and the working poor could participate in the “American dream”. Mortgage brokers under pressure to issue more loans to high-risk buyers flooded the market with sub-prime, adjustable rate mortgages, with no money down and no income verification. The results were foreseeable, except for the socialists in Congress who thought they were witnessing nirvana.
There is more than enough blame to go around, from the local corrupt Real Estate Agent to the corner offices and penthouses of Wall Street. To target all the fish in the food chain while ignoring the sharks in Congress is not reform. It is only “business as usual” with slightly different scapegoats. McCain is focusing on the money Obama collected from Fannie and Freddie while studiously avoiding any mention of Dodd, Franks, and others on Capitol Hill feeding at the trough.
This is his big chance to demonstrate he will bring true change to Washington. If he shows a willingness to take on his cronies in Congress his trip to the White House will be a “cake walk”. Otherwise he is likely to loose his momentum to Obama while, at the same time, lending credence to Democratic desires to strengthen their grip on the economy.
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