Diary

The White House Finds A Set, Calls Out NYT and Dodd, Among Others

In response to this summary of DNC talking points published by the NYT under the guise of a news article, the White House released the following statements, found here and here.

In case you don’t have the time, or the stomach, to read the whole article, it basically says the entire mortgage crisis is the fault of President Bush. Virtually no mention is made about the role of Congress or previous Democratic administrations in encouraging (or forcing) lenders to make loans they had no business making to people who had no business receiving them. Clearly there is plenty of blame here to go around, and there is little doubt in my mind that things could have been handled differently by the Bush administration which may have helped delay or mitigate some of the damage done. But to write an article about the causes of the mortgage crisis while ignoringDodd, Frank and friends is just embarrassing.

The second statement from the White House goes farther than the statement, and calls out Chris Dodd, amongst others, for the part he has played.

The New York Times completely ignores the fact that while the Administration was pushing for more transparent rules and reigning in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress had for years blocked attempts at stronger regulation and blocked reform of the Federal Housing Administration.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-MA) criticized the President’s warning saying: “these two entities – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – are not facing any kind of financial crisis..The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.” (citation omitted)

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chairman Christopher Dodd also ignored the President’s warnings and called on him to “immediately reconsider his ill-advised” position. (citation omitted)

The White House also points out Dodd’s campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie:

The article neglects to acknowledge that political contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac overwhelmingly supported Democratic officials – in particular members of Democratic leadership:

Since 1989, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) has received $165,400 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Does that information sound worthy of inclusion in an article purporting to explain for it’s readership (whatever is left of it) the causes of the crisis? Not if your goal is to sell your political agenda, and not if you write for the New York Times.

This all raises another question in my mind, though. Why is this the first time the White House has made this case? The biggest failures of this administration have not been the controversial policy positions they have taken, but the poor marketing of them and the lack of a defense of them when they come under partisan attack. When you let your opponents and the media (redundant, I know) set the context and define the positions in any debate, you will lose every time.

Whoever the state Republicans find to run against Chris Dodd had better learn a lesson from this. We must define the debate and tackle these biased and unsupportable assertions head-on. There is no honor in letting someone blame you for something they did, no brownie points for turning the other cheek and letting the lies and distortions go unchallenged, especially when it comes to something as drastic as what has been done to our economy. There is blame to go around, but ChrisDodd is acting like he is the answer to the problems we now face as opposed to a primary cause.

Cross posted at The Artful Doddger.