Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Let's not hear about rhetoric that is a "dangerous" "distraction"

The debate was boring and will not help McCain. What may help over the next three weeks is an increased focus on Obama and his ideology. One way that McCain - and the independents - will get at that is his associations. As I blogged earlier, they are important not because the measure of Obama is who he has made important in his life but that his choices tell us something about him

This will, of course, be criticized as a distraction and as a departure from discussion of the "important issues that face the American people." Indeed, Joe Biden, citing a nutjob in one of Palin's crowds who shouted "kill him," archly suggests that this is not a place that we should go.

But is that right? Certainly claiming that Obama's associations with the extreme left (e.g., Wright and Ayers) tell us something about who he is may be inflammatory. This is no even if the idea is not that Obama is "just like" Wright and Ayers, but that he has a world view which permits Wright to be a trusted advisor and Ayers to be an acceptable political colleague - someone whose programs you fund and with whom you can sit on boards.

So is the principle that we ought to avoid inflammatory rhetoric? Is it that we must restrict ourselves to discussion of specific policies?

If it is, Obama is certainly off to places where he should not go. Asked about the financial crisis during last night's debate, he said what he always says:

And I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us.


This is, at best, meaningless and, at worse, utter nonsense. I have yet to hear anyone identify any deregulation during the Bush administration - whether or not supported by McCain - that played any significant role in the financial crisis.

I can think of government policies that may have played a role, but there are the Fed's easy money policy, the refusal (led mostly by Democrats)to enact tougher oversight of Freddie and Fannie (this is one bit of regulation that the Bush administration favored) and Freddie and Fannie's decision to make a market for junk - fueled, in part, by the political class' desire to expand homeownership. I can think of forces that were not caused by the governent, such as the influx of cash from overseas.

But I can't point to much in the way of deregulation. It is, of course, possible to imagine a set of regulations that might have prevented the problem. We just identify whatever went wrong and, with 20-20 hindsight, say that it ought to have been prohibited. But, as I have blogged before, it is hard to imagine anyone who would have supported such regulations before the fact.

So it is hardly a thoughtful or nuanced discussion of the issues.

But is it inflammatory?

Well, it's of a piece with Obama's Grapes of Wrath rhetoric. "They," he says, have made you "settle" for less. If it's inflammatory to criticize Obama for his dalliance with those on the far left - something that may tell us something about who he is, why is it not inflammatory to stir class envy and resentment?

8 comments:

Dad29 said...

Whether "deregulation" or not, the SEC's 2004 endorsement of 30x leverage (vs. the old 12x) for 5 named brokers was irresponsible.

How do we know that? 4 of the 5 are history.

Only took 4 years for them to get there.

William Tyroler said...

Inflammatory rhetoric?

Like the nonstop references to "Bushitler"? Or the novella imagining Bush's assassination? Or the "No Blood for Oil" chants? Or the dehumanizing references to the Chimpster-in-Chief? And on and on.

That's all OK because that rhetoric originates on the Left, and besides Bush is a war criminal who deserves whatever he might get. But let a single individual yell out an ambiguous threat ("Kill him" refers to who, exactly? Ayers?); and ignore the possibility it could have been a Democratic Party dirty-tricks operative, or just a lone individual's attention-seeking stunt: well, now, all of sudden "inflammatory rhetoric" is a deep and abiding concern in Leftist precincts.

Could be just a manifestation of Palin Derangement Syndrome. That'll pass with Obama's election. But the sheer hypocrisy, coupled with not a little paranoia and self-righteousness, suggests we can look forward to a very, very long 4 years.

Brew City Brawler said...

It's good to see the McCain campaign also is raising the serious issue of Obama's middle name.

If Obama's associations are so deeply problematic and raise serious questions about what his presidency would look like, then why didn't McCain raise them during the town hall "debate"? Surely he could have found a way to share this deeply troubling information with the American public.

And didn't more than a few Republicans work on education issues -- i.e. associate - with Ayers? Or is it better to leave that out?

Finally, to what extent does McCain's association and endorsement of G. Gordon Liddy trouble you?

Rick Esenberg said...

D-29

Just so but imagine a regulation to prohibit it. Would anyone have upported it? It would have dried up some mortgage money, no?

Brother Tyroler

Well, ... yes.

Mr. Brawler

McCain made a decision to go easy in the town hall format. Whether or not that was wise is another matter. I'm not as concerned with who has endorsed Obama (or McCain) as who Obama (or McCain) has endorsed. I would not want to be in the same room with Bill Ayers or his wife. Both of them endorsed monstrous sentiments and engaged in criminal acts. Neither has apologized or indicated the slightest remorse,

How would you feel if a GOP candidate had been on boards with David Duke and funneled money to his pet causes? Would you be satisfied with the idea that he was just a guy in my neighborhood?

Dad29 said...

Keeping the 12x standard may have impinged on the 'mortgage market.'

So what?

That would have raised the prices of mortgages, and most likely would have provided profitability which would at least partially offset the loss-scenario now envisaged by the GSEs (and maybe would have prevented a couple of investment-bank collapses.)

IOW, the bubble would have deflated rather than burst.

I think that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

TO ALL....LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE....

George Bush has been in office for 7 ? years. The first six the economy was fine.

A little over one year ago:
1) Consumer confidence stood a t a 2 ? year high;
2) Regular gasoline sold for $2.19 a gallon;
3) The unemployment rate was 4.5%.
4) The DOW JONES hit a record high--14,000 +
5) American 's were buying new cars, taking cruises,vacations overseas,living large!...

But American's wanted 'CHANGE'!; So, in 2006 they voted in a Democratic Congress and yes--we got 'CHANGE' all right. In the PAST YEAR:

1) Consumer confidence has plummeted;
2) Gasoline is now over $4 a gallon & climbing!;
3) Unemployment is up to 5.5% (a 10% increase);
4) Americans have seen their home equity drop by
$12 TRILLION 5) 1% of American homes are in foreclosure.
6) as I write, THE DOWis probing another low~~
$2.5 TRILLION DOLLARS HAS EVAPORATED FROM THEIR STOCKS, BONDS & MUTUAL FUNDS INVESTMENT PORTFOLIOS!

YES, IN 2006 AMERICA VOTED FOR CHANGE...AND WE SURE GOT IT! ....

REMEMBER THE PRESIDENT HAS NO CONTROL OVER ANY OF THESE ISSUES, ONLY CONGRESS.

AND WHAT HAS CONGRESS DONE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS? EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO BRING DOWN THE ECONOMY AND WEAKEN AMERICA IN IRAQ.ALL TO BENEFIT THEMSELVES IN THE 2008 ELECTION.

During that time Senator Obama received more money from FNMA than the rest of the Senate combined. Hm mm.

NOW THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT CLAIMS HE IS GOING TO REALLY GIVE US CHANGE ALONG WITH A DEMOCRATIC CONGRESS!!!!

JUST HOW MUCH DEMOCRAT 'CHANGE' DO YOU THINK YOU CAN STAND?

Anonymous said...

Nice try, Anon.12:28.

AnotherTosaVoter said...

Rick said,

"I'm not as concerned with who has endorsed Obama (or McCain) as who Obama (or McCain) has endorsed."

Of course it doesn't.

Gee, the other guy's "associations" call into question his judgement, his character as a person.

But my guy's "associations" were just short-term relationships, minor really, nothing that's really relevant, because my candidate is his own guy and doesn't believe that stuff.

Democrat, Republican, doesn't matter. Just the typical partisan justification.

Rick, seriously, doesn't it bother you as an educated and moral person to knowingly practice hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty in the name of partisan gain?

And if it doesn't, then doesn't having a complete idiot on a ticket make it simply unpalatable?