The McCain campaign is headed directly into the gutter. Their Vice President is acquainting audiences with William Ayers, and their latest ad basically implicates Obama in murdering the troops:
(By the way, air-raiding and bombing civilians IS why Afghanistan is going so poorly.)
Even Reverend Wright is starting to get mentioned.
McCain's campaign desperately wants to turn the page on the economy, as if everyone's pockets will be magically filled with money over the next 30 days. The country remains in a serious crisis, and McCain is out there talking about random people like William Ayers.
Now THAT'S disrespectful.
But if you want to go down this road, fine. We can discuss Phil Gramm, for instance:
Gramm was always Wall Street's man in the Senate. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee during the Clinton administration, he consistently underfunded the Securities and Exchange Commission and kept it from stopping accounting firms from auditing corporations with which they had conflicts of interest. Gramm's piece de resistance came on Dec. 15, 2000, when he slipped into an omnibus spending bill a provision called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA), which prohibited any governmental regulation of credit default swaps, those insurance policies covering losses on securities in the event they went belly up. As the housing bubble ballooned, the face value of those swaps rose to a tidy $62 trillion. And as the housing bubble burst, those swaps became a massive pile of worthless paper, because no government agency had required the banks to set aside money to back them up.
The CFMA also prohibited government regulation of the energy-trading market, which enabled Enron to nearly bankrupt the state of California before bankrupting itself.
The problem with this exercise, of course, is that Gramm's relationship to McCain is not comparable to the relationships that Ayers or Wright have with Obama. The idea that either Ayers or Wright would have any impact on the workings of an Obama administration is nonsensical. But Gramm and McCain do have an enduring political and economic alliance. McCain chaired Gramm's short-lived presidential campaign in 1996; Gramm is co-chair of McCain's current effort. McCain has not repudiated reports that Gramm is on the shortlist to become Treasury secretary if McCain is elected, even after Gramm labeled America "a nation of whiners."
And we can talk about Charles Keating.
The current economic crisis demands that we understand John McCain's attitudes about economic oversight and corporate influence in federal regulation. Nothing illustrates the danger of his approach more clearly than his central role in the savings and loan scandal of the late '80s and early '90s.
John McCain was accused of improperly aiding his political patron, Charles Keating, chairman of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association. The bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee launched investigations and formally reprimanded Senator McCain for his role in the scandal -- the first such Senator to receive a major party nomination for president.
At the heart of the scandal was Keating's Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, which took advantage of deregulation in the 1980s to make risky investments with its depositors' money. McCain intervened on behalf of Charles Keating with federal regulators tasked with preventing banking fraud, and championed legislation to delay regulation of the savings and loan industry -- actions that allowed Keating to continue his fraud at an incredible cost to taxpayers.
When the savings and loan industry collapsed, Keating's failed company put taxpayers on the hook for $3.4 billion and more than 20,000 Americans lost their savings. John McCain was reprimanded by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, but the ultimate cost of the crisis to American taxpayers reached more than $120 billion.
Unlike Ayers and Wright, Gramm and Keating have a DIRECT connection to the type of deregulation and free market fundamentalism that has led us to the current economic crisis. There is a through-line there that is undeniable, and you can easily see how McCain's Presidency would be guided by the same forces. Hell, Gramm could be the Treasury Secretary just given all those expansive powers.
You can see a long documentary on McCain and Keating at Keating Economics after noon ET today.
These are more serious times, but the Obama campaign can play the guilt by association game if that's where McCain wants to go.