John McCain’s fatal screw-up of the bailout bill was a final nail in the campaign coffin. Glenn Reynolds and I discussed this very point on PJTV yesterday. Now, McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin admits the gobsmackingly obvious: Their aimless, principle-less lurching on the issue was a “blunder.” Via Jeff Poor at the Business and Media Institute:
Both McCain and President-elect Barack Obama voted for the bill, which has taken on a different role since being promoted as a measure that would have given the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to purchase the troubled assets thought to be behind the current financial crisis.
Holtz-Eakin said it was a move of desperation because the campaign was taking a lot of criticism for not being more proactive at the time.
“Financial markets were falling apart,” Holtz-Eakin said. “We were in a terrible position as a campaign in trying to figure out whether to continue to just take hits–which we were–or to try to do something about it when the bailout bill was stalled. We elected to go do something about it. It didn’t pay off as a campaign largely because getting that bill through was not helpful.”
He advised the audience, which included several economists and policy analysts, to evaluate the strategy if confronted with having to choose between politics or core policy beliefs.
“If anyone is ever in a comparable position before us, take the time–or again in the future, take the time to step back and ask, ‘Is this a good policy move? Will it really help?’” he said.
The bailout legislation, which was promoted by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as a do-or-die vote, has been roundly criticized by Republican members of Congress. Holtz-Eakin explained this bill was something McCain normally wouldn’t have supported.
“That was the key strategic error that we really made,” Holtz-Eakin added. “Had we stayed away from Washington, stayed away from being identified with that bill – which was ultimately against the John McCain brand– that’s not a bill he normally would support– we would have been better served in the long run, I believe. But, that financial market meltdown combined with bad strategic decisions, I think, was a real crippling combination of events.”
All together now: DUUUUUUH!
And now McCain wants to team up with Obama to “fix up the country?”
No thank you.