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McCain’s ‘Fundamental’ Problem

Sen. John McCain knows as much about the economy as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin knows about the Bush Doctrine.

That’s the thrust of the Obama campaign’s current offensive, which blasts McCain at every turn for saying this week, oddly, that the “fundamentals” of the American economy remain strong.

The attack is more about McCain being clueless than wrong — and it’s harder to attack his economic stands anyway, since they keep reversing.

He spoke out against an A.I.G. bailout, then backed it; he railed against market regulation for decades but now says he supports more of it, and the classic, he voted against President George W. Bush’s tax cuts but now insists that he supports them.

The Obama campaign is circulating a Washington Post article today that says these economic problems should “worry” McCain because they constitute:

…the biggest obstacle standing between the Arizona senator and the White House. McCain didn’t single-handedly create this problem, but he made it worse Monday when, as Wall Street was melting down, he uttered words — “the fundamentals of our economy are strong” — that totally muddied the real message he meant to deliver. Barack Obama has hammered him at every stop since as a man out of touch with reality. Were McCain known as a student of the economy, this instance of a badly delivered statement would matter little. Because he is known as someone who is not, it matters plenty. McCain has responded by ratcheting up his rhetoric about cracking down on Wall Street and its regulators in Washington. (emphasis added)

Even McCain’s “get tough” rhetoric has also sounded off-key. On Wednesday, Obama seized on McCain’s promise to confront the “Old Boys Network” in Washington:

Yesterday, John McCain actually said that if he’s president, he’ll take on, and I quote –- “the Old Boys Network in Washington.” I’m not making this up. This is somebody who’s been in Congress for 26 years –- who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign –- and now he tells us that he’s the one whose gonna’ take on the old boys network. The Old Boys Network? In the McCain campaign, that’s called a staff meeting. (emphasis added)

In politics, sometimes the only thing worse than holding the wrong position is looking clueless. Obama is not only arguing that McCain has the wrong approach to this financial crisis, or that he keeps reversing his position, but that McCain is clueless about the depth of the challenge and delusional to think he will challenge the status quo. In other words, part of the solution is recognizing that McCain is part of the problem.

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