If McCain should say “No” to the Bush/Paulson bailout plan
that goes double – or maybe triple -
for Obama. And he needs to say it quickly and clearly. He can’t play “Lets Make
a Deal.” Any deal the House Dems can craft will be a bad deal. Obama has to say
“No Deal!” His status as a hero – his core brand of change – depends on it. .
Obama’s best explanation of what he meant by change was, “If
you keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result you are crazy.
That’s why we need to bring real change to Washington.” He was talking about Iraq, but he could have
been talking about the financial crisis.
The Fed, under both Clinton and Bush, has been bailing out
financial institutions, one after the other, for years. It hasn’t worked. It
just makes things worse. Now under intense time pressure, Paulson and Benrnanke ae telling Congress that
if they don’t authorize the mother of all bailouts the whole system will melt down. Maybe they
are right. I don’t know. But it sure smells like a classic con. It’s like a man
running up to you at the carnival and saying “A guy just got stabbed back
there. Hold this bloody knife and I’ll get someone to give him CPR. Oh, and be
sure to touch the handle, OK? ”
The only group of rubes that might be stupid enough to fall
for that (because they really are big-hearted bozos) is the current Dem House
Leadership. Not coincidentally, they are also the only group that actually has
lower approval ratings than the Bush White House.
Obama needs to stay absolutely clear of this legislative
train wreck. And to do so he needs to go with one of his best lines in the
convention speech, “Enough”. Something like this:
“Enough. Enough panic, enough lies,
enough accounting tricks. We will get to the bottom of this and we are going to
get through it, because we are all Americans and we are all in this together. But it isn’t going to be solved by pulling an all-nighter then jumping on a plane to go and campaign. The days of fast fixes and quick bucks are over. It is going to take hard work and hard facts. And to my Wall Street friends all
I can say is calm down, take a deep breath… and then take your hand out of my
As I said in the last post both candidates should take a
strong NO position on the suggested financial sector bail out for purely story
reasons. Lets start with McCain.
Remember, this election is about America choosing its
“hero-in-chief” We are looking for someone who can hold their ground in a
difficult and dangerous world. In marketing terms it is about having a strong
and sustainable brand.
The McCain campaign has been pushing two related brand
concepts; 1). McCain is a maverick and 2) McCain “will fight for you”. Saying yes to this bailout seriously erodes
By definition a maverick does not run with the herd, and
that goes double in the middle of a stampede. It looks like that is what
Paulson is trying to get going. The Treasury Secretary probably sincerely
believes that this is best way to save the situation, or it may just be that
this is the way the Bush Whitehouse likes to market its proposals (it does seem
eerily similar to how we got into Iraq and passed the Patriot Act) but that is
the current administration’s story choice. For McCain to beat the bad rap that
he is “McSame” he needs to separate himself from those choices. He needs to stand strong against the biggest special interest in
Congress – the Financial Products Industry. If he doesn’t his maverick brand is toast.
McCain also needs to say no to protect his only really effective brand slogan
“I’ll fight for you.” You can’t go into a fight by giving up before it
starts. And you won’t have much leverage to “hold the bad guys
accountable” and “make them famous” if you give them a blank check and promise
not to ask any hard questions for the next two years, and that is what this
So McCain should just say “Thanks but no thanks” to the
Treasury Secretary’s proposed 700 Billion dollar “bridge loan to nowhere.” His
political survival depends on it.