“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Barney Frank's Conflicted Love Life

I learned a fascinating piece of news this week.

It seems that Barney Frank's new boyfriend is, or was, an executive at Fannie Mae whose job was to lobby......Congress!

Can it get more conflicted than this? Not only did Barney Frank fiddle while the GSEs crashed.

He further compounded his guilt as a primary founder of the current financial debacle by consorting improperly with officials of firms to which he also gave a regulatory pass.

This guy is just unbelievable. And unbelievably bad for our country.

McCain's Struggling Campaign

Until about four days ago, I thought John McCain had a reasonable chance to win the election next month.

But on Sunday morning, while discussing the campaign and recent economic events with two friends, I changed my mind.

I regret to say that I now believe McCain will lose.

He will lose because he lacks a critical skill which a US president needs to have. It's necessary, but not sufficient, for successfully leading the country.

John McCain just isn't capable of communicating complex ideas to Americans. Given that his opponent, the rookie Senator from Illinois, is glib and articulate ( and, as his running mate Joe Biden once said, 'clean'), this is a fatal weakness for the GOP candidate.

It doesn't help that the Illinois freshman Senator is outright lying when he says we are facing 'the worst economic times since the Depression' of the 1930s. We're not, but the average, dumb American doesn't actually know this.

As I talked with my friends on Sunday morning, we agreed that McCain had to clearly express to American voters what the genesis of the current financial and economic situations are. That Congressional mistakes regarding financial regulation and poor oversight of Fannie and Freddie caused a rippling effect throughout financial services companies. That it was not 'Wall Street greed' which caused the financial sector problem. It was created by government, including absurd policies directing Fannie, Freddie and commercial banks to lend to poor people incapable of affording mortgages.

McCain then needed to clearly reject the philosophy of 'big programs' to affect current economic performance. Economies go through cycles. We are in a softening which is not yet, but might become, a mild and not-too-long recession.

I just never get the sense that McCain really understands what he says.

For example, George Bush clearly understands and articulates that government doesn't create jobs- individuals and companies do.

I don't really think McCain really gets this. It's an important counterpoint to all that his opponent stands for- if you can call it that. But McCain consistently fumbles economic statements.

And what's this nonsense about McCain wanting Warren Buffett as Treasury secretary? For one, Buffett supports Obama. For another, Buffett's own record as a CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is actually not all that great.

Treasury secretaries need to be more financially-oriented. The cabinet post of Commerce secretary is for people with business backgrounds.

It's bad luck for John McCain that the recent financial sector troubles hit when they did. Until about a month ago, McCain was cruising on the tide of a good convention, the surprise nomination of Sarah Palin as his VP, and the positive news of US military gains in Iraq.

Now, those are ancient history. Americans are scared, susceptible to all sorts of claims of economic doom, and looking to blame someone. Iraq and conservative principles are off the radar screen. The candidate who seems the most compassionate, empathetic and committed to 'change' is getting the attention of independents.

Since George Bush isn't running again, they are shifting their blame to the candidate from his party. Thus, in just a week, independents in key states such as Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Virginia are shifting left.

Honestly, I didn't want McCain as the Republican candidate. While I never thought they could win the nomination, either Giuliani or Romney were my preferences. Both have executive experience and really understand economics.

I'm not sure Romney could have won a general election, but I have absolutely no doubt Giuliani could. And would.

Unfortunately, the primary system left Republicans with a weak candidate who just doesn't seem to fit the current times and challenges facing the next President and our country.

Again, details which aren't McCain's fault, matter. He looks old. He has white hair. His style and manner are windbaggy and overly Senatorial. He doesn't seem to really 'get' anything.

I never felt McCain was the best GOP candidate, as I've just explained. If he were to win, I think we'd get a sort of caretaker presidency which would stymie any efforts by a Democratic-controlled House and/or Senate. And maybe choose some conservative, or less-liberal Federal judges.

But McCain was never going to be a solid conservative. In a way, as I've watched him over the past week, he reminds me, eerily, of Hubert Humphrey's performance down the last stretch of the 1968 election, when he desperately tried to finally distance himself from LBJ.

Finally, I believe a candidate has to actually win the election- not merely not lose it. If McCain is to be an effective President, he'll have to explain his proposed actions to the American voters many times. I don't see him doing that. If he can't manage to run a campaign to neutralize a lying, inexperienced opponent, maybe he's not really worthy of the job.

Maybe McCain truly does not deserve to win. It pains me to write that, but, there it is.

Which brings me to my fallback mantra:

"You can't have another Reagan without another Carter."

I'll explain this in an imminent post.