September 16, 2008
McCain and Leadership in a Time of Financial CrisisBy Ed Lasky
Wall Street sinks; renowned financial houses are being foreclosed; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been placed in government's hands; hedge funds have wrecked the economy.
How will all this turmoil affect the Presidential campaign?
At first glance, this may seem harmful to McCain. Liberal pundits and the Obama campaign will try to tar John McCain to these problems by linking him with the President and Vice-President into a new Axis of Evil: Bush-Cheney-McCain.
How can McCain respond? His playbook should be turned to the chapters on offense, not defense. Fight, fight, and fight. And win.
Since Barack Obama seems to have hung up the hope and change mantra for now to adopt the populist demagoguery that has sunk Democratic presidential hopefuls in the past, McCain should practice some jujitsu and turn Obama's argument against him.
Barack Obama is the hedge-fund candidate in terms of findraising according to the New York Times. He and his fellow Democrats -- including New York Senators Schumer and Clinton -- are the darlings of Wall Street. Obama has enjoyed outsized donations from hedge fund managers and Wall Streeters.
The granddaddy of all hedge fund monsters is George Soros, who was also Barack Obama's early presidential race sugardaddy. Soros has also been talking down the economy while profiting from the mortgage meltdown. Soros is the chief donor to a wide variety of 527 groups (including MoveOn.Org) that have been working to assure Obama's election.
Obama raised almost $400,000 dollars from the employees of the now kaput Lehman Brothers-topping all other candidates, though Senators Clinton, Schumer and Dodd did quite nicely .
Two other leading donors to the left are Herbert and Marion Sandler, who have worked with Soros to promote left-wing causes. This husband and wife founded Golden West Financial, a savings and loan that was a huge player in the mortgage market. Did they see the writing on the wall when they sold their company to Wachovia for billions of dollars before the mortgage meltdown?
Why do you think Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and other leading lights of the Democratic Party castigate oil companies and not hedge fund managers? The paydays of Wall Street players dwarf those of oil companies. Their profit ratios can be astronomical compared to those of oil companies. They can wreck the financial markets that are the lubrication for the rest of the economy.
Why the silence for one and shrillness on The Other? Call it the politics of distraction.?
Joe Biden? The Senator from MBNA (a major credit card company)? The Senator who worked to pass a bankruptcy bill that makes it arduous for people to escape their obligations to credit card companies, thereby leading them to the easier route of walking away from their houses? ("Tougher Bankruptcy laws Bite the Lenders") The Senator who protected credit card companies who charge usury-type rates to consumers and impoverish them? The Senator whose son benefited by a sweetheart deal with MBNA? The target is almost too easy.
The next play, Senator McCain
Play up your role as a crisis manager -- as a leader. You have suffered as a prisoner-of war; you have shown your fortitude and courage. You have personally dealt with great pain and horror; you have the scar tissue and wounds to prove it. But what else do you have? Leadership and a record of working with others -- including those across the aisle on the big issues of the day.
McCain does not shrink from tackling controversial subjects He does not hide from history, or shirk a battle. In contrast, Obama never tried to reform the Chicago Machine, he joined it.
These are trying times; the Presidency does not lend itself to on-the-job training (a criticism that Biden leveled against Barack Obama earlier in the year . We need a leader who has forged the relationships needed to fulfill his duties at this critical time.
Even Norman Ornstein, a Democrat, recognizes the need for a bipartisan approach toward resolving our problems.
Does this sound like Barack Obama?
Early in his campaign, Obama positioned himself as someone who was bipartisan, someone who could heal the political divisions in our nation. This political pitch was very appealing -- a campaign trope projecting an image that came nowhere close to reality.
Barack Obama has shown only few and inconsequential efforts to work across the aisle. He is, after all, the most liberal politician in the Senate as ranked by the non-partisan National Journal. Joe Biden is number three so don't expect much bridge building on the part of one of the most partisan teams ever to run in a Presidential election.
As Karl Rove wrote:
Obama offers up as "proof" his work with Senators Lugar and Coburn to show he can work with Republicans. In reality, these were two uncontroversial bills that barely merited notice when passed. .
Obama reaching across the aisle to work with Republicans?
Does he even have any friends who are Republicans? He claimed he has friends who are "far-right" (do the nutroots know about this?), but when challenged to name them by Bill O'Reilly he could not name a one. He shows his high regard for Republicans by comparing Senator Coburn to the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. That will earn him a lot of goodwill in the days ahead. Such diplomacy!
Senator Coburn dismissed Obama's claim of being ready and willing to work with Republicans:
On the other hand, McCain knows how to form a team.
McCain worked with Ted Kennedy to reform America's immigration policies; worked with Tom Daschle on tobacco issues; supported Bill Clinton's intervention in Kosovo; Russ Feingold on campaign reform; John Kerry on tax issues; worked with Democrats on torture issues and Guantanamo Bay; was one of the Gang of 14 Senators who worked to compromise on the issue of federal judges (Obama refused an invitation to join); climate change; gun control; a patient's bill of rights.
These actions may not please conservatives but they show a talent for setting goals and working with others for achieving them. That is more than Barack Obama has displayed in his entire career. Obama's touted success in the Illinois State Senate was due to his political godfather State Senate President tacking his name on bills whose heavy lifting was done by others .
The Washington Times provides a fuller analysis of how both Barack Obama and John McCain have fared when working in a bipartisan fashion.
The friendships McCain has formed with many Senators will hold him in good stead should he become President. He has friends across the aisle in ways that Barack Obama does not. Many Democrats have offered their unqualified praise for McCain in days past (before election dynamics silenced them).
These include but are not limited to: Russ Feingold, former Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman (who endorsed him for President) and even Joe Biden, who expressly stated that Barack Obama was not ready for the Presidency. Another Senator held the same view a mere three years ago: Barack Obama.
These are the type of friends that Barack Obama notably lacks on the other side of the aisle. They are also the type of friends that can be a crucial factor in the trying days ahead.
Who works well with others? Who can change things? Who has changed things? Who can deal with the challenges ahead?
Would you rather have a celebrity rookie filled with attitude in charge or a veteran filled with experience and stress-tested who knows how to form a team and lead it to victory?
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.