Perils of Populism

One of the perils of being a populist, as John McCain is finding out, is that the public is allowed to change its mind, but politicians who attempt to follow them end up looking bad.

the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.

"Obviously, that didn't happen," McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The [Arizona] Republic's Editorial Board, recounting his decision-making during the critical initial days of the fiscal crisis. "They decided to stabilize the Wall Street institutions, bail out (insurance giant) AIG, bail out Chrysler, bail out General Motors.... What they figured was that if they stabilized Wall Street - I guess it was trickle-down economics - that therefore Main Street would be fine."

I am not sure this is much of a defense.  Even without McCain's access to such financial luminaries, I and many others predicted at the time the $700 billion slush fund would be used as, well, as slush fund to bail out the politically well-connected.  I must admit I didn't see the GM/UAW bailout coming, but its not wildly surprising in retrospect.

Unfortunately for all of us, McCain's competition in the next election, JD Hayworth, is even less appealing.


  1. CB:

    Definitely not much of a defense. McCain's is weak, at best. If I make a mistake in my job akin to the one he admits to (being hoodwinked), my career would be on line. I suppose I've become too cynical to think he and his cronies would get the boot for it.

  2. Evil Red Scandi:

    So when are you guys going to draft Jeff Flake?

  3. Dr. T:

    Congress deliberately crafted the TARP bill to contain no oversight provisions and no protections from misuse of funds. A smart Republican presidential candidate would have drafted an amendment to the bill that would have included reliable oversight and banned payouts that were not in line with TARP's stated goals. But, instead of a smart candidate, we were stuck with McCain without a brain. TARP, if implemented perfectly, was a bad plan. McCain's inaction helped make it into a fiscal disaster.

  4. gadfly:

    So Arizona can choose between John McCain of Keating 5 fame and JD Hayworth who gets Indian tribe money funneled to his PAC by Jack Abramoff. Sounds like a "horse" apiece.

    However while Hayworth's conservative rating ended up as 97.5%, McCain has been batting below 70 percent conservative recently. The box score comes out in favor of JDH.

    Besides, McCain is in this for McCain and his reaching across the aisle is ticking off both sides. The RINO must go.

  5. Global Warming:

    Or, choose a democrat.

    (Just sayin' that the Repubs aren't the only game in town. JDH and McCain may both be in trouble.)

  6. roger the shrubber:

    that tired old "yeah, but he's *our* SOB" thinking is what allowed swine like ted kennedy and robkkkert byrd to hang on to their senate seats as if it were imperial privilege - 30, 40, 50 years. hayworth's not perfect? sorta scummy, actually? fine - vote him out **next** election. deal with the bigger problem first: GET MCCAIN OUT, before he "bravely, maverickly" decides to pull a spector and reveal his true colors and allegiances.

    as a man, a sailor, a patriot, mccain bows to no one. the problem is, none of those are in the job description of the job he IS running for: senator. he's proven, time and again, that as a senator, he's a national disgrace. do your job, arizona: flush the toilet and send him on his way.

  7. astonerii:

    My order of vote preference would be JD Hayworth, The Democrat, Third Party or stay home. I would never vote for McCain. Too bad I am not in Arizona to make my voice heard.

  8. txjim:

    I nominate Coyote for Senator from the great state of Arizona!

    "Mr Gore, you have a call from Senator Coyote on line one"


  9. me:

    I couldn't agree more with txjim's sentiment - it's because the smart, thoughful and capable people run small businesses that we get candidates which an even end-stage roman senator would find appalingly clueless.

    On a second note, I am amazed how often the following sequence of events happens in all walks of life and benefits rather than hinders the career of the people responsible for bad decisions:

    (1) Lots of informed folks ask pointed questions about plan A and point out its obvious flaws
    (2) A strong leader, L, pushes plan A through
    (3) Plan A turns out to have all of the obvious flaws earlier discussed and then some
    (4) Leader L claims that much to everyones surprise plan A didn't work and that he'll come up with plan B to improve
    (5) The same folks who earlier criticized plan A correctly point out flaws in plan B
    (6) Leader L gets popular support, broadens powerbase and pushed through plan B
    (7) go to step 3, subsitute B for and C for B.

  10. Michael:

    I'm not sympathetic for McCain, but Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke scarred the crap out of congress. You had some members telling their wives to get their hands on as much cash a possible. Some member thought the ATM were going dry.

    I don't give Paulson any creditability. He testified the if AIG hadn't been bailed out, there would be 25% unemployement. We known 20 billion went to Goldman Sachs and at least 110 billion went to foreign banks. Is Paulson really saying but for 50 billion routed through AIG, unemployment would be 25%?

  11. tehag:

    The eternal defense of the status quo.

    "I didn't like McCain's first term, but this new challenger is too green, too conservative, too crazy."

    "I didn't like McCain's second term, but this new challenger is too green, too conservative, too crazy."

    "I didn't like McCain's third term, but this new challenger is too green, too conservative, too crazy."

    "I didn't like McCain's fourth term, but this new challenger is too green, too conservative, too crazy."

    Never wonder how McCain is re-elected: by conscious choice ever time by voters who are then dissatisfied with his performance. McCain: 24 years of poor performance and counting, but better him than someone who hasn't served for 24 years.

    I wouldn't keep poorly-performing car for four years or my shoddy house for four decades. Vote him out now. You'll get another opportunity to put in someone new in six years, unless of course: "I didn't like Hayworth's first term, but this new challenger is too green...."

  12. IgotBupkis:

    > (Just sayin’ that the Repubs aren’t the only game in town. JDH and McCain may both be in trouble.)

    Only if the Dem is a DINO. If s/he's the more typical sort of lefty gila monster, only an idiot would consider them.

  13. IgotBupkis:

    > fine – vote him out **next** election.

    We apparently think alike on this. My usual position is to Vote The Bastards Out. If they haven't done something positive to catch my attention and support, then vote 'em out. The longer they stay in office, the more favors they've curried, the less they're going to pay any attention to MY interests, and the harder it is to get them out.

    This should be the Tea Party motto:
    When in doubt, vote the bastards out.

  14. NormD:

    I don't know much about JD Hayworth. Why are you opposed to him?

    From his web site:

    For the Bush tax cuts
    Opposed TARP
    Opposed auto bailouts
    Opposes Cap-and-Trade
    Opposes "Amnesty for Illegal Aliens"
    Opposes McCain-Feingold
    Supports Defense of Marriage Act

    I am going to guess that you don't like his pro-life and anti-gay-marriage positions, but it seems unlikely that anything substantial will happen in these areas.