Hilzoy on Obama and McCain’s Responses to the Financial Crisis

Hilzoy has been on the story of Obama’s actual qualifications for a long time now. Her writings on the subject are a big part of why the “Obama isn’t qualified” claims from the Clinton campaign, or the “we don’t know who Barack Obama is” gambits from the McCain campaign, have never resonated even slightly with me. The fact is, he is qualified, and supremely qualified, based on his actual track record, for anyone willing to honestly investigate the question.

The latest evidence of this comes from Hilzoy’s discussion today of the Obama and McCain responses to the financial crisis. This isn’t new, but she does a good job of summing up the differences: Compare and contrast.

Obama is just a man, I know. He will inevitably disappoint, if only because no one could live up to the expectations he’s built up. But when it comes to the actual act of governing, to formulating and implementing well-thought-out policies, as distinct from playing games with Machiavellian politics, he is head-and-shoulders above any other presidential candidate I’ve ever seen. He’s a better candidate than I ever thought I’d have the chance to vote for. And in 11 days he could actually be the president-elect.

To those who still support McCain, I can only say this: I respect your right to your opinion. But I think you should examine your epistemology. With examples like the two candidates’ respective response to the financial crisis, it is clear to me that McCain’s approach to governing is fundamentally broken. He is concerned with crafting the appearance of leadership, rather than actually leading. Obama has demonstrated just the opposite. At each new challenge, he has shown that he is a thoughtful, intelligent, capable leader.

I don’t know what we did to deserve this opportunity. But I know what to do with it now that it’s here.

36 Responses to “Hilzoy on Obama and McCain’s Responses to the Financial Crisis”

  1. shcb Says:

    I find it interesting that liberals think that keeping one’s cool under pressure, staying away from the cameras until the time is appropriate, staying in contact with advisors and the key people in the thick of the crisis is presidential (it is by the way). Maybe if Obama had been reading “my pet goat” to school children liberals would be more critical, doubt it.

    As I stated in an earlier thread, both McCain and Obama handled this situation correctly. They are both running for president so of course part of their calculations were what to do to make the most politically of the situation. But they are also both Senators so they have a duty to that aspect of this situation as well. McCain as a senior Senator who has co-sponsored legislation that would have mitigated this crisis while Obama was figuring out which drawer to put his pencils in as a junior Senator, was needed as a leader of the Senate. That legislation was and is being blocked by Chris Dodd, author of the Dodd, Frank bill that Obama wishes to use as part of his plan to end this crisis. Obama on the other hand, as a junior Senator did the right thing by watching and learning from more experienced legislators.

  2. Craig Says:

    As I have mentioned, there are some things that greatly concern me about an Obama presidency, but I admit I have an element of curiosity in what he could really do in trying to reach out and moderate some of the traditional ideals and ideaology of the Democratic party, as a supposed “uniter”. One concern is, even if he wants to play the “grown-up” (for you John) I’m concerned that a democratic-dominated Congress will be the “unruly children”. None of the current leadership seems to have distinguished themselves so far.

  3. shcb Says:

    Why would he want to moderate the Democratic party? He is to the left of most of them. It would seem members of congress that want to get re-elected in contested districts would want to moderate Obama.

  4. Craig Says:

    It’s a matter of whether his rhetoric, that has been swallowed whole by so many, of being a uniter, will be any different this time than when anyone else has used it. Being that he is still just a politician, I would doubt it, but it seems inevitible that we will now find out. Even if he should want to, my concern is that uninspiring congressional leadership like Reid and Pelosi won’t have the political courage and maturity to resist demands from hard left base influencers for vendettas and a Christmas list of cherished idealogical programs over true poilitical change instead of partisan power plays.

    Obama’s legacy will be pinned to the Hope and Change mantra of rising above politics as usual. Will absolute power (legislatively) corrupt absolutely, or will leadership tow the line?

  5. shcb Says:

    The ’94 House under Gingrich tried reaching across the aisle by giving Democrats some key chairmanships hoping the good will would be reciprocated, it wasn’t. George Bush insisted Ted Kennedy be allowed to write the education bill in his first term hoping the good will would be reciprocated, it wasn’t. Don’t think Republicans have forgotten that, and don’t think Democrats know Republicans have those memories.

    The other thing is what is Obama going to use as leverage over the congressmen, is he going to threaten to veto the first social program out of the House if a couple key chairmanships aren’t given to Republicans? Which Democrat will be snubbed? Will he promise to only nominate conservative judges if the Senate doesn’t approve a Republican tax cut bill? I wish they would all get along and put only their country’s best interest first, but this is bare knuckled, prime time, professional politics.

  6. knarlyknight Says:

    It seems from shcb first post , second paragraph, that he did not read the Hilzoy article. It started to get interesting at this point:

    If a Presidential candidate truly wants to do the right thing in a situation like this, it seems to me that the best thing to do is not to talk about it, and not to do anything dramatic, but to work as hard as you can behind the scenes. Very few difficult policy decisions are improved by having Presidential politics injected into them, and this seemed unlikely to be one of the exceptions. McCain is not on any of the relevant committees, has no obvious expertise in finance, and, by all accounts, does not have the kind of standing in Congress that would let him rally members behind him. That means that it’s not at all clear how his returning to DC would help at all, especially since he could just as easily have tried to round up support for whatever course of action he thought best by phone.

  7. shcb Says:

    Knarls, (I like that)

    I didn’t really comment on the article because it wasn’t factual and it was a study in one sided nonsense. Look, both men are Senators and both men are running for president, the author is saying McCain’s only concern was appearance and Obama’s was only the welfare of the country. Both sides had both concerns in mind when making their calculated decisions.

    McCain has been involved in legislation regarding this issue

    S. 190 [109th]: Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005
    Sponsor: Sen. Charles Hagel [R-NE]
    Cosponsors [as of 2008-10-04]
    Sen. Elizabeth Dole [R-NC]
    Sen. John McCain [R-AZ]
    Sen. John Sununu [R-NH]

    I don’t want to repeat what I said above so re-read it and see if it makes sense now.

  8. shcb Says:

    By the way, this is the key sentence

    Jul 28, 2005: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Ordered to be reported with an amendment in the nature of a substitute favorably.

    This means one man is blocking this bill from being debated on the floor, Chris Dodd. This is from your link of the Obama economic plan

    Instruct the Secretaries of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to use their existing authority to more aggressively modify the terms of mortgages. Barack Obama was an early champion of the HOPE for Homeowners Act program that passed over the summer. In addition, Obama insisted that the financial rescue plan Congress
    recently passed include authority for the Secretary to work with servicers to modify the
    terms of mortgages for homeowners who played by the rules. Obama believes that both
    of these should be implemented aggressively and comprehensively. In addition, Obama is
    calling on Treasury and HUD to develop a plan to work with state housing agencies to
    coordinate broad mortgage restructurings. The Dodd/Frank legislation gives states
    broader authority to help struggling homeowners, and coordination is essential to ensure
    that state and national efforts are working in concert to help as many homeowners as
    possible at the minimum cost to taxpayers.

    So he wants to put the man who blocked legislation that could have mitigated this situation in charge of letting a government official force lending institutions to lower rates and even principal on a loan if the folks who took out the loan don’t want to pay so much. You have an economics degree; can you imagine what that uncertainty would do the financial industry? Never knowing what those loans will be worth tomorrow.

  9. knarlyknight Says:

    I skimmed what you replied and it reasonable. I’ll take another look when I have some more time later today or tomorrow and comment then. Thanks for the links etc.

    I’ll re-read your post if you re-read the second last sentence in the Hilzoy excerpt I posted.

  10. shcb Says:


    Sounds good, do look into it. Is this the sentence you are referring to?

    McCain is not on any of the relevant committees, has no obvious expertise in finance, and, by all accounts, does not have the kind of standing in Congress that would let him rally members behind him.

    McCain is not on any of the committees, that is probably true, for one thing I would think most congressmen running for president would give up those kinds of day to day duties, I would hope they would anyway. But he has been on those committees in the past and as I have shown, has at least co-sponsored legislation in this regard. Has no expertise in finance, that is also true, but he has experience, a lot of it, in getting bills passed and has experience in the regulation side of the bill so his input may not be great on the financial side but would be in those other aspects. Doesn’t have standing to rally members of congress, well I guess that is a matter of opinion, but I would think he would have the same standing as someone like Ted Kennedy, been there done that type of person, he probably doesn’t have the arm twisting type of clout as say Tom DeLay did, or the back room deal making respect of Tip O’Neal or Newt Gingrich. They, Obama and McCain also needed to be there to cast their vote, you can’t do that over the phone, and that was supposedly immanent at that time if you will recall. Thanks for being reasonable, it makes these discussions more fun.

  11. shcb Says:

    let me revise that a little, I said he has been on those committees in the past, I was guessing there, I’ve looked into it a little and can’t find that statement to be true, so the jury will kindly disregard.

  12. knarlyknight Says:

    Hmmm, then you agree Hilzoy’s comment is essentially correct, except that you think he has more influence in Congress than that, as Hilzoy put’s it “by all accounts, [McCain] does not have”. I’m looking more forward to a deeper review of this.

    The reason for my post now, however, is to alert you to the fact that there is a candid video of Sarah Palin (with great wardrobe shots) where Sarah Palin says that she supports a new investigation into what happened on 9/11/2001

  13. knarlyknight Says:

    Sarah Palin supports a new investigation into 911:


  14. shcb Says:

    I think there are a few things in this article that are blatantly wrong and many that are technically correct but a bit deceptive, sort of politics as usual. One thing I find interesting is that Bok, aka Hilzoy, is a professor of… wait for it… political ethics.

  15. knarlyknight Says:

    Since Hilzoy is a professor of Political Ethics, do you think maybe, just maybe, in determining who is being deceptive and who is being ethical, we could agree that it is more likely that Hilzoy has by far the greater credibility than… wait for it… your information sources?

  16. shcb Says:

    Well I don’t know, I suppose you would have to sit in on her class and see how she teaches, perhaps she is very even handed in her classes and dawns the cape of the Masked Crusader when she is blogging. For instance she says McCain isn’t on any of the relevant committees, but by then the bill was out of committee and on the floor for debate, so I think that point is a little out of place, she knows how the system works and yet she makes a pointless point because she knows most of her readers won’t catch that little tidbit, is that unethical? Not on a blog, might be if she taught that in her class. She has her facts right (sort of), she is voicing her opinion on her own time as far as I can see and is using an alias even though everyone knows who she is, no problems, I just don’t agree with her conclusions. She is an advocate for Obama is all, and one that is a bit deceptive, but I am as well sometimes, it goes with the territory. I’m just pointing out some of the more blatant distortions.

    Absolutely McCain’s return to Washington was at least partially politically motivated, but Obama’s reluctance to return to Washington was also probably politically motivated, I’m sure the three options she says the McCain camp discussed were also discussed in the Obama Camp. I would bet good money that the Obama camp waited to see what McCain did and then did the opposite, it’s kind of a game of chicken to see who will flinch first or pit strategy at the end of a NASCAR race. If the leader stays out at what point do you come in for new tires 5th? 12th? If the leaders come in at what point do you stay out?

  17. Craig Says:

    Knarly, I would hope you actually understand this, but its a safe bet that Sarah is not agreeing in the affirmative for any of the reasons that truthers want to see it reopened.

    By not framing his question more explicitly, the guy gets to play a gotcha game with her answer. It gets on YouTube and all his buddies squeal with delight.

  18. knarlyknight Says:

    Of course I “actually understand this” I’m not a freakin idiot.

    The beautiful irony is that McCain wrote the forward to Popular Mechanic’s unbelievably silly (and fully discredited) book that sought to close the door on calls for more investigations.

    The “squeals of delight” is that it shines a spotlight on Sarah’s ignorance – it shows that you can get Sarah Palin to agree to anything!

    Question: “Sarah, do you support the heartland toaster league’s call for a ban on Arab bread burning activities?” Answer: “YouBetcha! (wink)” Freakin airhead vp candidate, John Cleese put it well in describing her as a well trained parrot (although I hear that now she’s going off-script more and more to the chagrin of the campaign advisors…) Look up the Cleese video on Youtube if you are interested, he’s got some other good insights..

    Also, Craig, I’d take issue with your premise, as the question was framed relatively explicitly: wasn’t it something like this “do you support the vicitm’s families calls for a new investigation into 911?” How much more does a VP candidate need? Put the same question to McCain, Biden or Barrack and you get a pretty firm “No, the issue is settled time to move on”.

  19. knarlyknight Says:

    Contrast Palin’s “Duh, I do” comment to what a truly intelligent (and even prettier) person has to say about investigating 9-11:


    (Okay, I inserted the “Duh” part. So sue me.)

  20. Craig Says:

    I really don’t want to get into this whole thing with you because it is ultimately a pointless exchange. The questioner talked about supporting the first responders and some victim’s families call for a new investigation. Sarah, frankly, gave a pretty confusing generic-sounding answer as she is walking along a rope line of supporters, and then the guy talked about how some people are still sick and dying due to toxic air quality that was higher than the government admitted? That exchange sounds similar to the stories I have heard about a drive to reopen the 9/11 compensation fund for such victims. Which is a different story to me.

    I’ll just be glad when the election is over so I can stop hearing this daily “yur candidate is more stupider than mine” tripe.

    If we put all the gaffes and brain farts that each of the four principles have made since the primaries on one video, you would think that they were all drooling idiots.

  21. knarlyknight Says:

    Craig, you say Sarah gave “a pretty confusing sounding generic sort of answer” ! ?

    What she said was: “I do.” How is that confusing or generic? It couldn’t be more clear, concise or a more precise answer to the question.

    Saying Sarah’s reply was a “confusing” or “generic” response makes you sound like that guy in the Conservatives for Obama video who says that he got tired of listening to himself say things in defence of McCain that even he himself did not believe (i.e. before he came to that realization.)

    As for the second half of the video: yes, I agree that Sarah clammed up pretty fast when the guy said the EPA lied and people are sick because of it. As described in the last video I posted, Naomi Klein seems to have a chip on her shoulder about that issue too.

  22. shcb Says:


    if cameras followed any of us 24/7 we would look pretty stupid.

  23. shcb Says:

    …or at least as stupid as the editors wanted us to look

  24. Craig Says:

    Once again, I know YOU KNOW this, but her confusing answer that I was referring to actually was, “I do, cause I think that helps us get to the point of never again, and if anything that we can do could still complete that reminder out there.”


    Who knows what she is affirming here!

    That was my point (but you knew that).

  25. Craig Says:

    In checking another website’s translation of her response, and then adding a word that I think she is saying, the quote seems to be:

    “I do, cause I think that helps us get to the point of never again. And anything we can do ourselves to keep that reminder out there.”

    At least the grammar is a little less garbled in this version.

    Since we already agreed that she is not going to be in the truther camp for her reason to affirm a new investigation, it seems that she is somehow connecting it to a way to keep the Country alert in not letting down its guard to terrorist attacks. But why she might think a reopened investigation would be a good way to do that, is odd to me. So, who knows what she was saying?

    The again, maybe she was just humoring someone in a rope line with some basic rhetoric.

  26. knarlyknight Says:

    We’re close to the same page here Craig, except I understand the term “rhetoric” as using language in an effective manner in order to persuade. Unless we accept your adding words to her sentences and guessing as to her intended meaning(s) and rationalizing the reason for her use of obscure comments (you know, like the former Conservative in the video who kept making excuses for McCain until he couldn’t take it any longer!) , well, unless we acceppt that then we have to just admit that Sarah’s responses are often along the same thought lines of a fellow beauty contestant’s answer: Google: “Miss Teen USA 2007 – South Carolina answers a question”
    Yes indeed.

  27. Craig Says:

    How about that she used some off the cuff poli-speak?

    I added one word (ourselves), not words, to a somewhat more coherant translation. Listen to the audio and make your own assumption.

    We may instead have to accept that she made another contribution to the campaign ’08 list of stereotypical pageant-like statements, like John “Putin rules Germany” McCain, Barrack “57 states in the US” Obama, and Joe “Jobs is a three-letter word” Biden.

  28. shcb Says:

    Let me throw something else out there, I haven’t watched the clip but sometimes when people are in that situation they start out with one thought in the beginning of the sentence and end with another, or someone further down the line but out of audio range of the camera could have asked her a question, she was thinking of the answer to that one and mixed the two answers into one sentence, I know I’ve done that before when two people were talking to me at the same time. If that wasn’t the case I think she just meant that re looking at what happened might help keep it from happening again, we still read about and analyze things that happened hundreds and thousands of years ago, it’s called history.

  29. knarlyknight Says:

    Finally shcb agrees that we need a new investigation into 911

  30. shcb Says:

    but not for the same reasons or the same purpose.

  31. knarlyknight Says:

    I want the truth, the WHOLE truth, and nothing but the truth.

    What’s your purpose?

  32. shcb Says:

    We know the truth, Arabs flew planes into buildings and the buildings fell down. I want to find out more about their tactics and our failings in intelligence and response.

  33. knarlyknight Says:

    “We know the truth…”
    You’ve been fooled. Yes, it is obvious that two planes flew into two towers, but the two burning towers remained standing. To say the towers “fell down” is stupid: two towers did not “fall down”.

    THREE towers exploded and imploded upon themselves collapsing into piles of rubble and pulverized cement dust.

    That’s not the end of it. Temperatures within the rubble AT ALL THREE SITES remained far higher than what could be explained by the two aircraft collisions, and three office building fires and three office building total collapses.

    More than a dozen other characteristics show that aircraft collisions did not cause the collapses, 19 are listed on the right side panel at http://www.ae911truth.org/

    “I want to find out more about their tactics and our failings…”

    We know their tactics: the Saudi Arabian hijackers were monitored nearly every step of the way by NSA, FBI, CIA and other nations’ intelligence agencies.

    American failings in intelligence are also known: failures to heed and act upon the field agent warnings, failure to heed warnings of other intelligence agencies, failure to communicate, and numerous other “failings”.

    “Failings” in response (i.e. NORAD) are well documented too (all three contradictory versions that NORAD provided.)

    The response to these failures have been to exonnerate, promote and reward those in positions of responsibility for the areas that failed.

    The three questions I want answered is (1) who placed the put options on American and United Airlines immediately preceding 9/11 and (2) why that investigation was not pursued and (3) why the video tapes from numerous locations around the Pentagon were immediately seized by the FBI and never released.

  34. shcb Says:

    well, good luck in your quest my friend, let me know when you find the answers to your questions.

  35. knarlyknight Says:


  36. knarlyknight Says:


    I’d say Palin has FAR and away the gold medal ffor gaffes and brain fart, drooling idiot indeed, www . canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=a118eeeb-715a-461e-93b5-a9f12df0e4c2

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