Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Paul Krugman:

Just worth pointing out: Henry Paulson's decision to let Lehman fail, on Sept. 14, may have delivered the White House to Obama.


... The [bailout] bill's defeat can hardly be blamed on the GOP presidential nominee, and it's possible that a revised measure might succeed. But by his own actions last week, McCain tied himself far more tightly to the failed bill than did his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.

... If Congress' impasse leads to a credit crisis, "it's not going to be good for McCain," said veteran Republican consultant John Feehery....

Daniel Gross of Slate:

... Obviously, Republicans [who voted against the bailout bill] were motivated in no small part by political calculations -- short- and long-term. But it's really hard to figure out what those calculations might be.... let's say that the House Republicans manage to draw out the process for a few more weeks. Maybe the final deal will be less costly to taxpayers.... Even in that best-case scenario, is there any reason to think that GOP politicians will be rewarded for their intransigence?

... Just as happened in 1932, it's possible that the Republicans' incompetence and bullheadedness in managing a financial crisis could lead to Democrats controlling both the White House and Congress.

I don't trust this line of reasoning.

I don't trust it because, when a bailout bill is finally passed (assuming one is passed), stock markets will stage a huge rally, credit will start to flow, and most Americans will gradually forget how they feel now and move on to postseason baseball and whatever's up these days with Lindsay Lohan.

Meanwhile, what will low- and medium-information voters have taken away from the crisis? That the final bailout package was, yes, a cow-flop sandwich -- but that House Republicans did ... er, something to make it different. Somehow. That the bill was improved in some way or other by John McCain's party, and that John McCain worked to make the bill better, which we know not because we saw any evidence that he did, but because he and his surrogates keep telling us that he did, and that Barack Obama "played politics" (even though, if you're paying attention, it looks as if what both of them did was work the phones).

I'm operating on the assumption that the public isn't nearly as outraged at the bailout as is generally believed -- in a new Washington Post/ABC poll, "nearly nine in 10 [respondents] expressed concern that the failure of the bill could lead to a more severe economic decline," and in that poll and a new Rasmussen poll there are almost exactly as many supporters of the bailout as opponents.

So I think there'll be relief when and if something is finally done; I don't think it's going to hurt McCain to be associated with the final bill.

And I don't think Obama is helping himself with statements like this:

"One of the messages that I have to Congress is, Get this done," he said in Colorado after the House vote. "Democrats, Republicans, step up to the plate and get this done. Understand even as you get it done to stabilize the markets, we have more work to do to make sure that Main Street is getting the same kind of help that Wall Street is getting. We cannot forget who this is for. This is for the American people. This shouldn't be for a few insiders."

Translation: Hey, you over there -- clean up this mess. Not that McCain is any more hands-on, but I worry that he's fooled people into thinking he is.

At the very least, just getting this crisis moved (as far as the public is concerned) into the past will help McCain. Don't assume that the damage is done and won't be at least partially undone. Don't expect America to still be talking about this exactly the same way it is now on Election Day.


AND NOW: I see, via TPM, that John McCain is being urged by talking heads on Fox News to suspend his campaign again, and says he might do so.

Don't assume this is laughable, folks. Steve Doocy's lead "question" sums up the spin we'll hear if this happens:

... you've got some ideas for what to do. Have you thought about suspending your campaign again? Because you did it last week and it really focused it, focused the nation's consciousness on the problem, and you did wind up, the Republicans did wind up, getting some deals and doing some horse-trading. Are you thinking about suspending again? Because if you do do just that, maybe you'll get a better bill and you can emerge the leader in this.

And if McCain does jump out in front of the parade again (what some of us old-timers call a Rosie Ruiz moment), he can do it on Thursday, the day of the VP debate. Maybe he and Sarah Palin are planning to suspend their campaign together that day!


(Krugman quote via the Mahablog. TPM link via Rumproast.)

No comments: