Diary

George Will may be too reckless to be a journalist

In today’s Washington Post, George Will wrote that John McCain “is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/22/AR2008092202583.html?referrer=emailarticle

Will’s point is that McCain’s attack on SEC Chairman, Chris Cox, was “false and deeply unfair,” and indicates that McCain doesn’t understand what is happening on Wall Street.

While Cox’s role in the problem can be debated, it is a stretch to say that McCain doesn’t understand the crisis on Wall Street. The most important fact of the whole sorry episode is that McCain somehow guessed that the national economy was in danger by the subprime market. Lucky rookie guess, I suppose. But if not a lucky guess, then McCain has been aware of the danger to Wall Street since at least 2005, when he proposed oversight of the subprime market, specifically over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It would appear that the evidence speaks for itself.

So is McCain unjustified in attacking Chris Cox?

What is the role of SEC Chairman? Is awareness of market dangers included in the job description? How about speaking out on dangerous trends? I remember that Alan Greenspan was considered prescient for his warnings about the dotcom bubble and the potential impact on the markets and the overall economy. If a flustered rookie who is admittedly weaker on economics than on military or foreign policy can see the problems developing, should the SEC Chairman have an inkling of the problems? And perhaps suggest that something needs to be done?

McCain’s passion, or temper, or opinionated statements, are well-known. He has been criticized for them. But the fact that he is intemperate does not mean that he is wrong. If Cox has any oversight responsibilities, he should have sounded the warning early. The fact that every (is it really “every”? I think it is) investment banking entity is in collapse should have been noticed by someone. Blackhedd at this site has been warning about the collapse of the subprime market and the potential to destroy Wall Street and the economy. But perhaps blackhedd has better sources than Chris Cox.

Blackhedd, what opinions do you have on Chris Cox and Mccain’s opinion of him?

Perhaps George Will ties his bowties too tight. Perhaps Will doesn’t like McCain, and is willing to strain at the gnat while swallowing the camel. But it does not seem like a stretch that the SEC Chairman might have had a bit of warning on this collapse and exercised some authority to hold back the tide on this one.