Wednesday, September 17, 2008

McCain shocked that working to unbridle greed leads to unbridled greed.

His malleable image notwithstanding, McCain is a conservative. If nothing else, being a conservative requires that a person take a machete and a torch to even the most sensible constraint on greed, and McCain has slashed and burned with a zeal that, were it religion or cronyism, might make even his Vice-Presidential candidate blush.

As Mother Jones shows, until yesterday, McCain had billed himself as "the greatest deregulator" of our age:

Here's McCain speaking to the Wall Street Journal in May 2007:

"You are interviewing the greatest free trader you will ever interview, and the greatest deregulator you will ever interview."

Here's McCain addressing the housing crisis in March 2008:

"Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments to raising capital."

And here he is speaking again to the Wall Street Journal, apparently a receptive audience for regulation-bashing, in March 2008:

"I'm always for less regulation. But I am aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight. I think we found this in the subprime lending crisis -- that there are people that game the system and if not outright broke the law, they certainly engaged in unethical conduct which made this problem worse. So I do believe that there is role for oversight.

"As far as a need for additional regulations are concerned, I think that depends on the legislative agenda and what the Congress does to some degree, but I am a fundamentally a deregulator. I'd like to see a lot of the unnecessary government regulations eliminated, not just a moratorium."

Effectively, until yesterday, John McCain's problem with Wall Street greed was that it wasn't "unbridled" enough.

So I suppose it is no surprise that McCain's proposed solution is the one that a politician proposes when they don't want a solution - a commission. And as Blog for Democracy notes, I doubt a President McCain will care any more about the conclusions of that commission than Senator McCain cared about the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission - he couldn't be bothered to vote on the latter, and as president, wouldn't be bothered to act on the former.

Indeed, per Newsweek, McCain believes that this crisis demands nothing more than soaring rhetoric:

The problem is that because this is such a new posture for McCain, he's yet to back it up with much in the way of specifics. Delivered Tuesday in Tampa, his speech on "reforming our financial markets" devoted only three of its nine paragraphs to actual reforms--and even then, McCain spoke in the broadest possible terms. . . . Meanwhile, unlike Obama, McCain has not posted any additional information on his website; the senator's economic plan doesn't even mention market reform. "I don't think it's, at this moment, imperative to write down exactly what the plan has to be," Douglas Holtz Eakin, McCain's top economic adviser, said yesterday. "[It's just] some standards we just have to aim for and we just haven't met." In other words, McCain doesn't need any actual policy prescriptions. Framing himself as a vigorous, trustbusting man of action--Theodore S. McCain, perhaps--should be enough.

It's as if, in his effort to become the older, whiter Barack Obama, McCain has become the very candidate his campaign has accused Barack Obama of being: all rhetoric, no reform.