Monday, September 22, 2008

Last Night, On 60 Minutes

John McCain and Barack Obama appeared in separate interviews on 60 Minutes last night, the focus of which was the current economic crisis. John McCain's answers troubled me. From the get go, he laid down whom he thought was to blame for the financial crisis:

I think they should be deeply concerned about the fact that innocent Americans that don't work on Wall Street and don't work in Washington are the victims of the greed, the excess, and, yes, in some cases, corruption. There's a social contract that Adam Smith talked about between capitalism and the people. That contract has been broken. It's been broken by greed and access, aided and abetted by a government in Washington that's dominated by special interests and corruption.

Obama's answer was more nuanced and more impressive, particularly coming from a Democrat:

Hey, look, there were a lot of factors involved. But I think there is no doubt that if we had had a regulatory system that had kept pace with the changes in the financial system, that would have had an enormous impact in containing some of the problems that are out there. I mean, you've got greedy CEOs and investors who are taking too much risk. But that's why we set up rules of the road, to prevent that from spreading into the system as a whole. And, unfortunately, we had a lot of deregulation. And instead of modifying the rules for this new economy, we just eliminated them. So we've got to change our regulatory system. But, Steve, there's a bigger problem. And that is that the economy has not been working for ordinary Americans.

The typical Democrat playbook would simply blame deregulation and greedy corporate CEO's. But unlike McCain and his talk of a broken social contract, Obama notes the complexity of the financial world and the fact that the financial system outpaced the regulatory system. Obama's still a politician, so he still has to name check the "greedy CEO's," but his attitude as a whole just seemed more thoughtful, more open, and the slightest bit more promising to libertarians.

McCain continued in his interview to say that as President, he would have demanded the resignation of Chris Cox, head of the SEC. Not that he'd have the power to fire Cox, the head of an independent regulatory agency, but President McCain would get what he wants. It's the sort of discussion that makes McCain come off as a bully, a sharp contrast to Obama. Maybe it's the sort of temperament one wants in a commander-in-chief (or maybe not), but I just don't think it's the way most Americans want their president to handle domestic issues. It just starts to tread too far into "forget about the law, I'll rule as I please" territory.

The interviews last night had me sliding back into the Obama camp. Whatever positions McCain may stake out, he seems to be far more committed to doing what he thinks is is best than he is to free markets or even the rule of law. Obama is by no means ideal, but he strikes me as much more thoughtful at a time where we may need a thoughtful president.


Anonymous rose said...

Both candidates know who the swing voters are and both are targeting them every time they speak. McCain's got the conservatives and needs to convince independants he isn't Bush. Obama has the libs and needs to convince independants he isn't Hugo Chavez.

Obama is far better at articulating to his target demographic exactly what they want to hear.

Unfortunately if you look at track records and policies you have a moderate-conservative in McCain and you have a wealth-distributing, anti-globalization, big-government, national security naieve leftist. Aside from my comments on national security which are obviously opinion, the other observations are factual.

Aside from the fact that Obama's protectionist, high tax economic plans will make our companies increasingly uncompetitive and are rejected by most libertarian philosophies, you'd think a realist like yourself would easily recognize that neither candidate has a clue about the current credit situation, neither would be intimately involved in any remedies and therefore the interview is nothing more than a contest to see who can pretend to know what they're talking about the best. Obama won that contest. This is significant?

1:40 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

I forgot to add another little nugget, one that I think could grow in importance as the election nears. Obama has been very, very clear on his tax plan, indicating that he'll cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans- those of us making less than 125,000 a year. Obama has also said he'll raise taxes slightly on those making 250,000 or more, and even then, he would not raise tax rates to the level they were in the 80's or 90's.

McCain's plan promises nothing as far as reduced to taxes for most Americans who are not making a lot of money. It's hard to blame people for voting their pocketbooks, particularly in bad times, and I think if Obama continues to get this message out, it could be a huge help to him come November.

1:49 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

I think it is pretty telling how meaningless these interviews were when you look at Obama's paragraph that you termed "nuanced".

I guess compared to the patheticness of McCain's statement, I get I don't. There's nothing nuanced at all to either one.

These guy's know NOTHING about this. They're coached into every interview and the vague crap that comes out of their mouth is meaningless.

since neither knows a damn thing about finance or the economy, you simply have to look at the platform that they subscribe to. I believe McCain has thankfully been forced to toe the party's economic line, regardless of his own personal beliefs and will govern that way.

I don't need to reiterate how much Obama's economic platform contradicts the libertarian platform, or simply was history tells us works!

Bottom line: Both are clueless, interview is a meaningless charade and the platform/policy is all that matters.

Humor me and tell me you understand me please.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

McCain will reduce the corporate tax rate to 25%, which will mean the world to US companies and finally allow them to compete more successfully in the global economy. The long-term benefit to average American's is obvious.

Also, the democratic platform is making clear that drilling and nuclear are unacceptable. Energy prices over time have reverse-correlated more directly with economic growth than just about any other factor. Well with the dems rejecting any energy source that works, let's see how that plays out.

1:57 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

Yes and no- like 99% of the rest of America, neither McCain nor Obama no much about this stuff.

With McCain, it's not as much what he answers, but how answers, in that his approach to economic matters seems to be identical to his approach to terrorism. There are good guys and bad guys, right and wrong is clearly laid out, and he'll force through the changes to fix the situation if he has to.

It's telling that the calls for the heads of greedy CEO's are coming most loudly from McCain.

The truth is, I don't take much credence in Obama's brief tenure as a Senator or in some of the fiery rhetoric he's used to win over liberal voters. Every time I've heard him sit down and talk on issues, he's come across as thoughtful, which is a sharp contrast to just how reactionary McCain can be. I'll probably alienate everyone when I say this, but Obama strikes me as similar to both Clinton and Bush in his approach to these sorts of issues.

You're right that these interviews are essentially meaningless, but McCain, as the supposed conservative, has failed to do anything to impress me time and time again.

My best analogy would be this- What we're facing in the financial sector is the equivalent of an economic 9-11. And just as 9-11 required the right sort of leadership (again, for whatever mistakes the Bush administration may have made, thank God Al Gore was not elected in 2000), I think our nation needs the right sort of leadership today. I'm 100% convinced by everything he says and continues to say that McCain will try and manage the financial crisis in the manner of 9-11 and I'm 100% convinced that's the wrong way to go about it. It's not about D's and R's and party platforms, it's about who you feel is the right man for the job- I was convinced that George Bush was the right man to lead us through 9-11 and I'm convinced that John McCain is not the right sort of leader for today. Everything McCain says has me convinced that as President, he would take the exact wrong sort of approaches. I'm by no means convinced on Obama, but quite honestly, McCain scares me on this.

2:22 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

And I know what the platforms all say, but no matter who wins, party platforms don't just become law- what we get historically, from administration after administration is a government very different from what was promised in the platform.

2:25 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

And one more thing- No disrespect to McCain intended. I'm just going with my gut here, which is the same gut that told me we were better off with Bush in 2000 and 2004.

Per tradition and per adherence to my political beliefs, I couldn't ever bring myself to pull the ballot for either McCain or Obama, so in the end, I'm probably a Bob Barr guy more than anything else.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous rose aka tucker bounds said...

McCain is the only thing standing between Obama and the whitehouse. Obama, who mocks capitalism and supply side economics on a daily basis will inherit a democratically controlled congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

And you're scared of McCain?

One last question. How do you reconcile with how the democrats have politicized the war? I know there is propaganda from both sides. I get that. But the entire party, Obama included, ACTIVELY tried to convince the American people that we weren't winning in Iraq when we were! They knew it. They called Petraeus a liar. Obama is on record as recently as a few months ago ranting against the surge and ripping progress reports. To this day he disparages the progress that has been made. Says he wouldn't support the surge all ovr again. Talks about how we shouldn't have surged because Iraq wasn't the central front of the war on terror Bullshit. We had the most direct, intense and important battle directly with Al-Qaeda leading up to and during the surge.

We were losing to Al-Qaeda itself before the surge won the war and destroyed Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

If obama is so thoughtful, why can't he say "you know I was right about opposing the war in 2003 and I was wrong about the surge. and victory in iraq is critical to our nation's future, regardless of how wrong the war was in the first place".

However wrong the war was, that party has rooted for defeat and denied victory shamelessly for the past two years. Obama included.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

Actually, one of the few people I haven't heard it from is Bill Clinton. I could deal with a Clinton presidency 1,000 times before an Obama one.

3:13 PM  
Blogger lonely libertarian said...

McCain's been more honest on the war than just about anyone, everyone in the Bush administration included.

For all the spin that he's a war mongerer, I think McCain could well be the right sort of peace time President and the right guy to help wind things down in Iraq and pursue Al-Queda in Afganistan. If I thought that the war and terrorism were the biggest issue on the table, I'd lean McCain's way.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous rose said...

McCain simply listened to commanders on the ground in Iraq and told the truth, however unpopular that truth was.

He is campaigning right now.

Once he is governing, would you expect this man, who recognizes the fact he is not an economist, to do anything but listen to economic experts and do what is in the interests of our economy regardless of what is popular.

I mean that is what it comes down to. Unpopular but correct decisions. Who will make them.

3:41 PM  

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