In perhaps the most hopeful column for Republicans in recent days, Karl Rove wrote yesterday in the Wall Street Journal that, “There are probably more undecided and persuadable voters open to switching their choice than in any election since 1968.” He still thinks Obama hasn’t sealed the deal. Peggy agrees.
But, as Peggy noted, it doesn’t help McCain to be going negative at this point. “To win,” Rove contends, “Mr. McCain must demonstrate he stands for responsible conservative change, while portraying Mr. Obama as an out-of-the-mainstream liberal not ready to be president.” He seems to be trying to do both, but the media dwells on the second half rather than the first.
McCain didn’t doenough in the second debate to push that kind of change. Nor did Obama offer much in the way of solutions. He kept harping on how bad the “last eight years” of deregulation were (without providing any examples of actual deregulation).
Just as McCain failed to call him on that, he also failed to call him on something else. Rove got at in his column:
For those leaning to Mr. Obama, there was no evidence of bipartisanship. There was no talk of accomplishments. Did he really think it was smart to answer Mr. McCain on Fannie by dismissing the GSE [government sponsored enterprise] reform bill and pointing to a letter he wrote? In the Senate, is the pen mightier than legislation? And Mr. Obama’s say-one-thing, do-another approach was apparent. Blast Mr. McCain for talking up the economy, then say, “I am confident about the American economy.” Blame Mr. McCain for the credit meltdown, and end the assault with “you’re not interested in hearing politicians pointing fingers.”
Here’s what Obama said in the debate:
I wrote to Secretary Paulson, I wrote to Federal Reserve Chairman [Ben] Bernanke, and told them this is something [sub-prime lending crisis] we have to deal with, and nobody did anything about it. . . . . Now, with respect to Fannie Mae, what McCain didn’t mention is the fact that this bill that he talked about wasn’t his own bill. He jumped on it a year after it had been introduced and it never got passed.
Nobody did anything about it, Senator? Including you. Remember, you serve in the United States Senate where you can introduce legislation to address such problems. Or support bills already on the floor.
Given that McCain did something, he should have jumped on Obama’s statement and replied:
A year after it had been introduced? So what? That was two years before the current crisis when when we had enough time to prevent it. I at least supported actual legislation that the Senate considered. I tried to get it passed. I warned of the dangers of its failure. By contrast, you wrote a letter, asking someone else to do something. As president, you have to take action, not pass the problem on. Do you remember the sign on President Harry S Truman’s desk? “The Buck Stops Here.” It seems you just want to pass the buck.
For Obama, there is no taking responsibility, no offering of solutions, save repeating his mantra of hope and change. What’s he going to do if he wins next fall? Wait for Congress to act? Obama may have the right rhetoric for this anxious time, but his record includes few proposals for actual solutions even to problems he identified.
Is this the kind of president we want? A man who identifies a problem and writes a letter asking someone else to address?
*Please note I changed the title from the original because I thought it was lame. Not sure this is much better, but seems to capture post’s essence more accurately.