Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The next phase

Sarah Palin's star is fading.

John McCain's lies are getting to be common currency and old news.

The next--and likely climactic--phase of the campaign is the economic meltdown. Here's the estimable Joe Nocera in today's Times:
How can it even be possible that we wake up on a Monday morning to discover that Lehman Brothers, a firm founded in 1850, a firm that has survived the Great Depression and every market trauma before and since, is suddenly bankrupt? That Merrill Lynch, the “Thundering Herd,” is sold to Bank of America the same weekend?

...after you get past the mind-numbing complexity of the derivatives that are at the heart of the current crisis, what’s going on is something we are all familiar with: denial.
Once again, it's the economy, stupid, and this time, we're not talking about whether you buy a second car or get a raise. Now, millions of Americans are worried about losing their homes, and fearful that if they lose their job they won't be able to find another one.

This is a phase of the debate that Obama should win going away, and I predict that he will. After all, as today's Times also notes,

In early 1995, after Republicans had taken control of Congress, Mr. McCain promoted a moratorium on federal regulations of all kinds. He was quoted as saying that excessive regulations were “destroying the American family, the American dream” and voters “want these regulations stopped.” The moratorium measure was unsuccessful.

“I’m always for less regulation,” he told The Wall Street Journal last March, “but I am aware of the view that there is a need for government oversight” in situations like the subprime lending crisis, the problem that has cascaded through Wall Street this year. He concluded, “but I am fundamentally a deregulator.”

Shades of Herbert Hoover.

Let's hope that Obama and his people do not rest on their oars and take a soft middle road, figuring that voters dissatisfied--if not downright scared--by the present situation will carry him into office. That's probably what would happen, but the present crisis--which Alan Greenspan admits is the worst in his lifetime--calls for a reversal of the anti-government, anti-regulation fervor of the past thirty years, and that's not going to be easy to bring about even with a Democratic Congress. To create real, long-term reform is going to take clear-sightedness, hard work and great political skill.

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