Two or three days in a row now, Barack Obama has flat-out mocked John McCain’s attempts to stumble through a fiscal crisis that has taken American values — stock, home, and interest numbers — backwards to the 2004 era.
You know the story. Home values are down, stock prices are down. In Southern California, homes are now worth what they were back in 2003. Stocks are where they were in about 2004-5.
The difference is that 2008 has also brought new present-day economic problems. Joblessness is up, gas prices are up, food prices are up.
On Monday, when the Dow took a 500-point header off a cliff, McCain repeated what he has said countless times before, the GOP mantra of "strength." Bush, Cheney, Huckabee, Giuliani, Thompson, they all cling to this word like drowning men to a plank. McCain claimed "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," in a tone not too far removed from Herbert Hoover or Phil Gramm. But this time McCain ran into a buzzsaw named Barack Obama.
Senator – what economy are you talking about?
What’s more fundamental than the ability to find a job that pays the
bills and can raise a family? What’s more fundamental than knowing that
your life savings is secure, and that you can retire with dignity?
What’s more fundamental than knowing that you’ll have a roof over your
head at the end of the day? What’s more fundamental than that?
Then on Tuesday, McCain comes back with a recommendation for a "bipartisan commission," as with 9/11, to study the issue and offer recommendations.
Obama jumped on that and tore it apart. He mocked the suggestion as:
“the oldest Washington stunt in the book — you pass the buck to a
commission to study the problem. But here’s the thing — this isn’t
9/11. We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership
that gets us out.”
According to the FOX News report, the crowd listening to him in Golden, Colorado cheered loudly.
Then after first saying the government should not bail out AIG, and then saying it should, McCain today suggested firing Christopher Cox, the chairman of the SEC.
Seemingly within the hour, Obama fired right back:
In the next 47 days you can fire the whole trickle-down, on-your-own,
look-the-other-way crowd in Washington who has led us down this
disastrous path. Don’t just get
rid of one guy. Get rid of this administration. Get rid of this
philosophy. Get rid of the do-nothing approach to our economic problem
and put somebody in there who’s going to fight for you.
Pundits are focusing on McCain’s apparent gaffe. Officially the President doesn’t have the right to fire the SEC chairman, and Christopher Cox is a fellow Republican, so if McCain were to try and fire him, he would have to over-rule his own party.
But what stands out to me is the mockery. Once upon a time, it was the GOP who knew how to mock the Democrats and their allies. Ronald Reagan made it look like sport. Right now, it’s Obama. These are clean shots he’s getting in, in a huge campaign, and without apparent effort.
McCain is on his feet, but looks dazed, indecisive, confused. The election still has fifty days to go, but McCain has had a gruesome week. One more mistake, and this could be over.
[AP pic via the Los Angeles Times]