Wow, just as soon as I put together 1500 words giving the grand conspiracy theory on how at least a significant portion of our current financial mess can be blamed on the Democrats, begging folks to debunk at least a part of it, folks go and find even more evidence that if anything, I understated it.
From Jeff Goldstein, we have word that the infamous 1997 Clinton shakeup of the Community Reinvestment act was based on bad math — the analysis that seemed to show that wealthier minorities were denied loans that whites of similar wealth were granted was wrong. The actual difference, if any, was negligible. So there was no “pattern of discrimination” that needed fixing.
From Mike of Mike’s Noise, we find out that there were some in the Senate who saw the problem coming, and tried to do something about it. Mike cites Richard Shelby, Chuck Hagel, Elizabeth Dole, and my own senator, John Sununu, as four of those who tried to head off this problem. They were opposed by some names you might find familiar — John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Hillary Clinton, and some guy named “Obama.” (I wonder what became of that last guy…)
The current meme being passed around (likely talking points from the DNC) are to ask what the hell the Bush administration did to stop this, and pointing out that the Democrats have only held congressional leadership since 2006. Since the Republicans held power before then, then it’s obviously their fault, right?
This is akin to the “wifebeater” excuse. “Look what you made me do!”
No, that’s not fair. It’s closer to the “busted teenager” defense. “Why didn’t you try harder to stop me?” The Democrats’ fingerprints are all over this one, from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton to Barney Frank to Chris Dodd to Hillary Clinton to John Kerry to Barack Obama to James Johnson to Franklin Raines to Jamie Gorelick to… the list goes on and on and on.
Yes, there are plenty of Republicans to blame, too, but so far the vast majority of them commited “sins of omission” — they failed to heed the warnings, failed to try to stop the looming disaster. They didn’t do much actively, they just stood around and pretended that the train was not about to go flying off the tracks.
I strongly doubt that Barack Obama had very much to do with the current mess. Most of the groundwork took place while he was still in Illinois. But he is the titular head of his party, he is the one who brought two former Fannie Mae CEOs into his campaign as high-ranking advisers, and he is the one who — in theory — can bring his party’s miscreants to heel.
Obama has made a huge point out of boasting of his “bipartisanship,” of his willingness to ignore party lines, of bringing around “new” politics, of being the candidate of “hope and change.” Let’s see him do what John McCain and Sarah Palin have done, time and again — stand up to the powerful and corrupt within his own party and clean his own house.
Sadly, I don’t think he will. That would be risky, and he’s never been the one to stray from the safe path. In this case, it’s easier to point the finger at the Republicans for letting the car drive off the bridge and into the pond, and not mention just who was behind the wheel at the time — with the American people in the back seat, just waiting to be abandoned to drown.
For all I’ve said, I don’t see this as a strictly partisan problem. While I think the lion’s share of the responsibility falls on top Democrats, simply blaming them won’t fix a goddamned thing. No, we need to clean up this Augean stable of a mess, getting rid of the swine who both encouraged this to happen and tolerated it happening — Democrats and Republicans both.
Fortunately, we have a ticket that features two candidates with a track record of putting principle above party when the chips are down. And here’s a hint: it ain’t the guy who raked in over $126,000 from Fannie Mae in four short years and his running mate, the senator with a lobbyist for a son.
I’m not saying that simply electing McCain and Palin will fix anything. But with them, you at least can Hope that things will Change — instead of Hoping that the candidates themselves will Change after being elected and then Hoping that they’ll Change the system.
The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong — but that’s the way to bet if you have to wager.