Time for McCain to Name Names

There is but one issue in the 2008 election. The economy. Or more to the point, the economic meltdown. Whoever wins this debate will win the election.  Or perhaps more accurately, whoever loses this debate will lose the election. Period.

It is important to understand this for anyone trying not to lose this upcoming election. That would ostensibly include Arizona Senator John McCain. And it may not be as simple as what side of the Paulson Plan debate you are on. The housing-mortgage virus is eating up billions of dollars of wealth daily and this tends to irritate those who are losing the wealth. That would now include everyone in the country who owns any stock, mutual fund shares or real estate. In other words, a large share of voters.

When folks are this angry, there is hell to pay and "hell to pay" includes figuring out who to blame. For all of McCain's wanting to stay "above the fray" and his too-clever-by-half comment that now is not the time to assign blame, he is not hearing the public. It is indeed time to assign blame. With this kind of financial destruction on the part of most American families, someone is going to get blamed. You can count on it.

Let me repeat. Someone will get blamed. You will either enter that debate or you will lose that debate. Period.

And short of properly assigning blame to the liberal policies and politicians who are responsible for this mess, the blame will automatically fall to the current Presidential administration and by extension, his party. Right or wrong, that's how our politics play out. McCain simply has no choice now. He will start doing what he claims he loves to do related to government corruption -- naming names -- or he will be thrown on the ash heap of electoral shame alongside Bob Dole, George H. W. Bush and so on.

The good news for McCain, should he decide to grasp it, is that the party against which he is (supposed to be) running can easily be pegged with the lion's share of the blame regarding our economic meltdown. There is no doubt that liberal policies on energy and housing have combined to put the country in this situation, and only unwinding these policies will lead the nation out of this problem. Naming names properly will name a whole lot of folks with "D" beside their names.

Congress, of course, is now led by the very people who put us into this mess to begin with. If McCain thinks he can thread the needle in a bi-partisan fashion here, he is sadly mistaken. If he does not point out the facts, then his party will take the blame for and he will not win the election. It cannot happen. As far as he has run from President Bush, he will never get as far away from Bush as Obama can.

Bush has actually been on the right side of the energy production debate and the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac regulation debate all along. The President has been a feckless advocate of the correct positions on these issues to be sure, but at least one can legitimately claim that the administration was intellectually correct on Fannie, Freddie and oil.

McCain himself eloquently and correctly pointed out problems with Fannie and Freddie back in 2005 and 2006, only to have the reforms he wanted defeated by Democrats in Congress. President Bush was with McCain on these issues. Obama meanwhile, garnering more Fannie Mae contributions in two years than all other senators not named Chris Dodd in the last nine, has been on the wrong side of these issues. This is a slam dunk waiting for McCain simply to take advantage of it.

Recently he has been out rambling on about government spending, CEO pay and earmarks. Yawn. None of this is pertinent unless you point out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were Democrat earmarks and that the worst CEO pay abuse in recent memory is Franklin Raines' incentive compensation from Fannie triggered by fraudulent accounting. McCain did not bother to point any of that out of course. We must not "assign blame.'

The simple fact is this: if the Democrats do not get their deserved blame for this economic situation, Republicans will experience a bloodbath on Election Day. The way our elections work, it is up to McCain to make that happen. The fact that he seems not to understand it is why many conservatives loathed the idea of a McCain nomination to begin with.

It can be argued that if McCain will not assign blame, he will not win the White House. He says he wants to lead. That sometimes mean calling out friends and colleagues in the opposition.

We soon will see whether McCain has it in him to put his country ahead of his instinct to reach across the aisle. If he does not show this ability, he will never occupy the Oval Office.