Diary

John, We're Waiting For You to Do Something...

Dear John,

We haven’t heard a lot from you lately. Not a lot since last week, really, when you suspended your presidential campaign and announced that you were going back to D.C. to fix the economic crisis that Congress and the nation suddenly discovered it was in.

We know why we haven’t heard a lot from you. First, the news media doesn’t give you the same amount of coverage that it gives Sen. Obama, of course. But the coverage that you did get last week was overwhelmingly negative, and there was a loud drumbeat of criticism that you were just political grand-standing and did more harm than good while the Pelosi Bailout Bill was taking shape.

And then your numbers in the polls started heading south. Not just in the national polls, but your numbers started falling in the polls in swing states where it really matters electorially. So I imagine that many of your closest advisors jumped in to suggest that you have to be quiet, you have to go along to get along, and you have keep your eye on the ball and focused on the long term goal of winning the White House. The damage that an Obama presidency could do to the U.S. economy and national security are far greater than any short-term problems that this Bailout will cause…aren’t they?

Well, John, I don’t think that your advisors are right. And if your gut is telling you the same things, then I don’t think that your gut is right either. You are losing this election at the moment John, and you are losing it because you have stopped being the John McCain who surprised and shocked everyone by the bold, daring, non-politically-safe things you were doing just a few short weeks ago.

We need that bold, daring, shake-things-up John McCain to come back. We need him to come back now–before it is too late. Only that John McCain has a chance to win the White House and get us out of the messes that we are in.

And you really have nothing to lose by being bold, daring and outspoken. At least, nothing that isn’t lost already. (more after the jump)John, the Republicans–and you–are going to be blamed for all the problems that come along anyway. That’s the way the deck is stacked right now.

It doesn’t matter what you do or do not do. It doesn’t matter if you are quiet and supportive, or bold and a Maverick. The Republicans are going to be the fall guys here because the Democrats are very good at the Blame Game, the GOP doesn’t know how to properly head it off or counteract it, and the media are on the Democrats side.

It wasn’t 94 Democrats voting against the Pelosi Bailout that killed the Pelosi Bill! It was those stubborn Republicans who didn’t cross party lines and vote for it! It wasn’t the Community Reinvestment Act passed under the Jimmy Carter administration and expanded under the Bill Clinton administration that led to the housing bubble and the burst housing bubble/mortgage crisis–oh, no, it was the failures of the George Bush administration and the War in Iraq! You, and the Republican Party, are going to get the blame when this massive and massively unpopular Bailout Bill either fails to pass or passes and then fails to fix the problem.

The way things are now…you are going to lose either way. And America is going to lose in an even bigger way.

The sole purpose of the Republican Party in contemporary society as far as Democrats, liberals, intellectuals and the media are concerned, is to be convenient scapegoats for all the ills of the world. Republicans are those greedy, money-grubbing, selfish people who always put the interests of the banks, the oil companies and Big Business against those of the common people. They aren’t just wrong or misguided, oh no, Republicans for the most part and Conservatives specifically, are just plain evil. Plus, Conservatives and Republicans have connections and sympathies for other unsavory and dangerous groups.

So…do the right thing. Have the guts to stand on your principles, let the buck stop here, put your money where your mouth is, walk the talk, and all of those other cliches that harken back to an earlier time where people did things because they were the right thing to do and they had to be done, and not because of petty self-interest, small-minded partisanship or thoughts of personal gain.

Hold a press conference now, before the vote, and announce that you will not vote in favor of the bloated, pork-laden, “incentive”-stuffed Senate Bailout monstrosity. Don’t let people tell you what the political and economic consequences will be, because the people you are currently listening to are wrong.

Tax breaks and incentives for Puerto Rican and Virgin Islands Rum? $15 Million taxpayer dollars for Television and Film productions? Money to various Native American tribal nations? Money to American Samoa? Money for wool research? Wool research! Money subsidizing wooden arrows for American children?

A provision forcing insurance companies to provide coverage for mental health treatment on an equal basis to coverage of physical health problems? Something that will set things up for the next “crisis” when the insurance companies cannot provide private health care coverage?

Is this an emergency piece of legislation that represents the best thinking of the Senate on how to help the average American in what has been touted as the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression? Or is this the kind of legislation and legislative attidude that has gotten us into this mess in the first place? Which is it, John? And what side of the debate are you going to come down on? On the side of politics as usual or on the side of fiscal responsibility and protecting the proverbial “little guy?”

John, we are waiting for you to do something. Something bold. Something that shows independence and that Maverick spirit you like to talk about. Something that goes against not only your own party, but against both parties in this case. And I have a specific, concrete suggestion on what you might want to consider doing.

Announce your support for a version of the House GOP plan that includes a combination of insurance, loans and tax changes to deal with this financial crisis. Announce that we need to eliminate the abuses that the Community Reinvestment Act that led to many of our problems. Talk about how suspending “mark to market” accounting (and possibly eliminating it completely), raising FDIC insurance protection and the Fed continuing to pump liquidity into the market are the real ways out of this problem.

Most people won’t know what you are talking about when you get technical, of course. But they will know that you know what you are talking about. And that is what really matters.

People do not have ultimate confidence in a system. People have confidence in people. If you are going to become the next president, you are going to have to give people reason to have confidence in you. And, cynically, one of the best ways to do that is to tell people what they already believe to be true and affirm that the people are right.

Barack Obama and most Democrats tell people what they want to hear in nearly every speech they make. But for people who really care about the country, it helps a lot if you can tell people they are right when they actually are right. In this case, John, you can do that with a clear conscience.

The majority of Americans are dead-set against this Bailout. Their opinion goes against the talking heads on television, the political pundits, most of the economists and financiers and bankers–and the politicians right and left–who are dead-set certain that unless massive amounts of cash are thrown at this problem by Congress that we are going to be plunged into economic chaos and a New Great Depression.

Well…that’s what they said last week too. They all said that if the Pelosi Bailout wasn’t passed before Monday morning that the Dow would plunge a 1929-like 20-25% and we’d have a point drop of from 1000 to 2500 to deal with.

Of course, that didn’t happen. In the wake of the “surprising” failure of the Pelosi Bailout on Monday, the market dropped about a hefty 700 points. A large drop, or course, but not percentage-wise a record drop or a devastating one.

Especially since the Dow recovered about 500 points on Tuesday. And closed today only 20 points down.

The sky didn’t fall. The world didn’t come to an end. Nobody is setting up tent cities in Central Park or getting the soup lines going again.

And if you seriously believe that the reason we didn’t have a major Stock Market crash was because people are confident that Congress and the President are competent and will fix this problem…well, then you haven’t checked the polls on Congressional and Presidential approval recently, and you really need to ask a few pointed questions of people in Town Hall meetings. People don’t trust Congress to be able to tie their own shoes, much less fix major problems.

Of course, those same talking heads, politicians and “experts,” are saying that Wall Street and the Dow are not the real problem and the Stock Market numbers they made such dire predictions about last week should be ignored this week. The real problem is that the credit markets have dried up and nobody is lending any money. Businesses won’t be able to borrow money to meet payroll, or buy inventory. The economy will grind to a standstill. People won’t be able to get money to buy houses, or cars, or computers, or IPods, or…

Hold on a minute. John, does it make sense to you that credit would be flowing freely and well while banks and lenders are sitting around waiting for Congress to pass a quick, emergency, let’s-get-this-done-now-and-don’t-talk-to-me-about-reading-it piece of legislation that is going to put up to $700 Billion Dollars of taxpayer money into their hot, little hands?

Are we expecting the corporate geniuses who allowed greed and the desire for a quick buck by chasing 30% risky returns on investments to suddenly become angels and do anything that would avoid a $700 Billion Dollar windwall to drop into their laps? Or the responsible business leaders who were forced by the Community Reinvestment Act and idiotic policies forced on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac penalizing lenders who didn’t extend loans to people who should never have received them to not rather resentfully feel that since the government got them into this mess, the government should get them out now?

Why in the name of all that is Unholy Big Government Largesse should credit be flowing freely in the markets while everyone is holding their breath waiting to see just how big a gift Congress is going to authorize Santa Sam to give?

The Bailout is wrong. It is wrong morally, and it is wrong economically. If it passes, it will also be wrong politically down the road for everyone who votes in favor of it–and 94 House Democrats voted “No” on Monday and seem to agree with me. The Bailout is trying to put a bandaid on a bleeding artery without stopping the bleeding. The Senate Bill does not solve the root problems that led to the mess we are in–in fact, as the hours go by and the “incentives” grow, it is like cutting a few more arteries for good measure.

John, do something bold and responsible about this situation. Attack Barack Obama and the Democrats for trying to push through the greatest giveaway of taxpayer money in the history of the world on a massive bailout when there is a better and more responsible way of solving this problem. Point out that the root problems have to actually be addressed and solved and simply giving huge amounts of money to the same broken system is not going to help the average American.

Being bipartisan in this case means both parties joining together to do something that better than 60% of the American public does not want done. Going against the will of the American people would be fine if it was the right thing to do…and if it would work. But it will not work, and I think that deep down where you live, where you lived through all those torturous months in a prison camp, you know that it will not work. The wisdom of the common people in this case is right, and the pundits, politicians and players on the Street are wrong.

A caller to the Rush Limbaugh show named Kathy summed up the feeling of most people in American about the Bailout, and said it better than I have heard it said: “I believe there is so much anger and distrust, cynicism out there over the fraud perpetrated at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and especially at the failure of congressional leadership, that what we have is a crisis of confidence in government, not the markets. The foxes are putting themselves in charge of the henhouse and the henhouse is where the golden eggs would be laid if the government got out of the way.”

Americans do not need to have their confidence restored in the financial system. They need to have their confidence restored in government. And the face of government in this country is a single person, for good or for ill, and that person is the President. This election looked like it was going to be about change a month ago, but it has degenerated recently into day after day of more politics as usual.

Change it back.

We need you to come out against the Bailout on principle. We need you to stand up, talk straight, list the “incentives” and special interest add-ons in the Senate Bill and name the names like you promised to do. I know that the pork and additions aren’t earmarks, per se, but they are kissing cousins to earmarks and just as needless, wasteful and inappropriate.

Standing up, speaking out, and opposing the Bailout is going to take courage. But courage is something that your life shows you have. The reason that you have fallen behind in all of the polls since this “crisis” began last week is that we have not seen you showing any of the courage we expect from you lately. We have just seen you as one of the herd, running blindly toward the edge of the cliff, saying the same things and doing the same things as the rest of the herd around you.

We are heading into rough financial waters no matter what happens and no matter what Congress does or does not do. It is going to take courage and leadership to stand up now and go against what President Bush, the Democrat leaders of the House and the Senate, the media and the Street are all saying. But if you don’t stand up and say it…who will?

Stand with the people on this one, John. Let’s hear some straight talk from you on why more earmark-like “incentives,” more pork, more business and politics as usual, and 700 Billion Dollars of taxpayer money poured in without adequate safeguards and assurance of fixing what is broken simply isn’t right, and won’t work. Some people might even compare it to a scam.

Stand up and give ’em hell, John. Or there is going to be hell to pay over the next few years for America and the world.