Vote McCain, Re-Elect Lobbyists

Written by Terry Canaan. Posted in News, Opinion, Politics

Published on September 10, 2008 with No Comments

By Terry Canaan

September 10, 2008

Sometimes I think I need to work on my headlines. I pretty much wait until I’ve finished the post, then wonder what the hell I’m going to call it. I went through and tagged some posts and articles last night about an op-ed written by the McCain-Palin team (or, as it’s being marketed by that side, Palin-McCain) and signed off on by the candidates. Their title — or maybe it’s the headline the Wall Street Journal editorial staff gave it — is “We’ll Protect Taxpayers From More Bailouts.” You kind of get the feeling that someone suggested an exclamation point, but that was voted down as being too much.

Think Progress has a better headline. In fact, it’s so dead on that you almost don’t have to read the post. “McCain Op-Ed: Lobbyists Like My Campaign Manager Are ‘Primary Contributors’ To Fannie-Freddie Crisis.” I guess “I’ll protect you from me” was still a little too vague.

Palin’s name is on the op-ed mostly because she’s become a crutch for McCain. She’s not especially knowledgeable when it comes to the housing crisis. Speaking of headlines, Sam Stein explains the problem in a piece titled “Palin Makes Her First Gaffe“:

Gov. Sarah Palin made her first potentially major gaffe during her time on the national scene while discussing the developments of the perilous housing market this past weekend.

Speaking before voters in Colorado Springs, the Republican vice presidential nominee claimed that lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” The companies, as McClatchy reported, “aren’t taxpayer funded but operate as private companies. The takeover may result in a taxpayer bailout during reorganization.”

Economists and analysts pounced on the misstatement, which came before the government had spent funds bailing the two entities out, saying it demonstrated a lack of understanding about one of the key economic issues likely to face the next administration.

In this case, I’ve got the better headline, “Sarah Palin Doesn’t Know Her Fannie Mae From A Hole In The Ground.”

So, it’s basically an op-ed from McCain, with Sarah Palin chiming in like the kid in the Shake’n’Bake commercial, “And I helped!” And what Sarah helped with is a hopeless mish-mash of crazy statements and out and out self-contradiction. First and foremost, that federal bailouts are a bad thing, which is why we’ve got to bail these guys out. The very first sentence starts off the cognitive dissonance fest; “The bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is another outrageous, but sadly necessary, step for these two institutions.”

It’s typical of McCain to try to take both sides of an issue, but in the very first sentence? Things go south from there. The second paragraph reads, “We are strong advocates for the permanent reform of Fannie and Freddie. For years, Congress failed to act and it is deeply troubling that what we are now seeing is an exercise in crisis management rather than sound planning, and at great cost to taxpayers.”

For years? Golly, that’s one helluva coincidence, seeing that one of the authors of this piece has been in Congress all those years. It’s also coincidental that this author hasn’t tried to enact any of this badly needed reform over those years. Maybe he’s been busy. He sure has been this year — McCain is the most absent member of the Senate. During his Senate term so far, he’s used those rare moments that he’s on the job to vote the party line 88% of the time. That McCain, boy is he ever a maverick. As much of a maverick as Lindsey Graham, Trent Lott, and former RNC chair Elizabeth Dole, among others who served during that term. I guess maybe the entire Republican party are mavericks, which kind of makes you wonder how they’re defining that word. I guess in a “I want to be different and unique, too!” sort of way.

You’d think all of these mavericks in the maverick party would’ve done something about this somewhere along the line. To explain why they haven’t, we go back to Think Progress’s piece.

The feigned outrage of McCain and Palin at the inaction of Congress and the influence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lobbyists is ironic considering the fact that “at least 20 McCain fundraisers have lobbied on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” in recent years.

More troubling is the fact that McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, “served as president of an advocacy group led by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” that worked to cripple regulatory initiatives in Congress because the two institutions feared that “Congressional meddling would lower their healthy profits.”

McCain and Palin are so hip deep in lobbyists that, come November, they could take that campaign team, scratch the “’08” off all their signs, and open McCain-Palin Associates, LLC. McCain fired several members of his campaign because of criticism of his ties to lobbyists and conflict of interest, among other reasons, and that campaign is still made up largely of lobbyists. He fired one for ties to Saudi Arabia, two for ties to the military junta in Burma, a lobbyist for energy companies, and one who was with a group attacking Obama and Clinton. Later, he fired Phil Gramm — a former senator and a lobbyist for… wait for it… the banking industry — for saying that the economy was just fine and the US was a “nation of whiners.” Gramm, who was McCain’s economic adviser, was instrumental in our current crisis. He wrote what’s become known as “the Enron Loophole” and has earned the name “Foreclosure Phil.” All this attrition still leaves McCain-Palin with seven lobbyists as top advisers and, as Think Progress points out, 20 as fundraisers.

So McCain and Palin (excuse me, Palin and McCain) are going to go clean up Washington and reform the way everything works? How, by making it even more lobbyist-ridden, even more representative of corporations above people, even more corrupt?

Thanks, but no thanks. My temptation is to call this post “Palin-McCain Publish Laughable Bul**hit.” But I guess the one I chose was more family friendly.

Terry Canaan is a former political fundraiser living and writing in Wisconsin. He published the blog, “Griper Blade.”

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