Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"If the economy hadn't tanked, McCain would've won"

[... but first, I'd like to try to dispel a myth: the U.S. economy did not suddenly fall off a cliff in September. It had been on a downward trajectory for quite a while - this downward trajectory became impossible to ignore in September. Keen observers - Paul Krugman and Atrios among them - had been shouting at the top of their lungs for more than a year about the coming crash. Both Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton recognized at least some of the economic ills last spring.]

A common talking-point - particularly among Republican apologists - is that McCain would've won - or at least not lost so badly - had the economy not tanked in September. Who knows, they may be right...

BUT... this serves only to highlight a weakness of the Republican brand: a Republican candidate has no chance to win if the economy is in tatters. Why not? Presumably because Republicans don't know how to fix a broken economy!
There are two other plausible alternative explanations - other than the weakness of the Republican brand... and they are self-reinforcing:
Alternative #1: When the economy tanks, the incumbent Party gets the blame. [The Republicans broke the economy!]
Alternative #2: McCain's economic policy, such at it was, simply extended W's policy - which led to disaster. [McCain proposes to perpetuate the policies that broke the economy!]

Sen. Obama also found himself faced with the very same economic crisis, and with the very same two months left till the election. Why was he not at a disadvantage?
Well - there are Alternatives #1 & #2, above: Obama's not a Republican... and his economic policy - outlined fairly clearly on his campaign website - is not a continuation of W's follies.

Other than that?
Obama seemed calm in response to crisis. McCain seemed unhinged.

A few of the talking heads have noted this, and suggested that it wasn't the economic crisis per se that did in McCain - but rather McCain's response to the crisis that doomed him: first pronouncing the fundamentals of the economy strong, then suspending his campaign, then unsupsending his campaign, then throwing out solution #1, then solution #2... then solution #n - without any apparent serious thought behind any of 'em.

This 'chicken-lacking-head' behavior contrasted markedly with Sen. Obama's universally-acknowledged calmness in the face of crisis.

So, yes - without the economic crisis the electorate may not have seen Sen. McCain's inability to respond calmly to a crisis... and in that sense perhaps it was the economic crisis that doomed his candidacy: the crisis revealed for all the world to see just how poorly McCain handled the challenge it presented!

Have a nice day!

1 comment:

  1. It's easy to be an arm chair quarterback here, but I think the reason Wall Street melted down was the certainty of Obama winning. All the crooks knew it was time to pull those golden parachute ropes and cash out.
    My prediction: Bush issues thousands of pardons to all the members of his staff and administration and wall street thieves so they can keep their ill gotten gains.