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Obama Hits McCain on Mortgages and Temperament

Sen. John McCain’s “new” mortgage plan — which may actually be old, as TWI’s Mary Kane notes — drew a stinging rebuke on Wednesday afternoon from the Obama campaign.

Jason Furman, who directs economic policy for Sen. Barack Obama, slammed McCain’s mortgage-purchase proposal as a sop for reckless “financial institutions.” Furman was also unusually cutting in his assessment of McCain’s policy-making temperament, labeling him erratic, inconsistent and out of touch:

Senator McCain’s [has finally] acknowledged that there is a crisis and offered multiple plans, sometimes conflicting. Last night, in his latest attempt to get it right, he threw out a proposal that appeared to give the Treasury authority it already has to re-structure troubled mortgages. But now that he’s finally released the details of his plan, it turns out it’s even more costly and out of touch than we ever imagined.

John McCain wants the government to massively overpay for mortgages in a plan that would guarantee that taxpayers lose money and put them at risk of losing even more if home values don’t recover. The biggest beneficiaries of this plan will be the same financial institutions that got us into this mess, some of which even committed fraud…. John McCain’s plan to overpay for bad mortgages by handing taxpayer dollars over to big financial institutions is erratic policy-making at its worst, and it’s not the change we need to strengthen our economy, create new jobs and keep Americans in their homes (emphasis added).

Furman’s attack essentially makes procedure as big an issue as substance. That may seem odd, because procedure is usually boring. But it allows the Obama campaign to continue its assault on McCain’s temperament while putatively discussing public policy.

The same tack was in play after Tuesday’s presidential debate, as Obama strategist Linda Douglas bore down on McCain’s attitude (before turning to a discussion of the mortgage plan).

“There was a lot of tension and irritation, clearly, in the demeanor of Sen. McCain tonight,” she told MSNBC. “He was not relaxed. He was certainly not feeling very friendly toward Sen. Obama. And, you know, there seems to be some kind of issue here that gets under his skin.”

These attacks on his temperament may also get under McCain’s skin.

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