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An Economic Call at 3 a.m.?


Clinton in Raleigh, N.C. (AP).

By Perry Bacon Jr.
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Hillary Clinton is still imagining that 3 a.m. phone call.

"It's time for a president who is ready on Day One to be the commander in chief of our economy. Sometimes the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House and it's an economic crisis," Clinton said during an economic speech in Raleigh today. "And we need a president who is ready and willing and able to answer that call. I read the speech that Senator McCain gave the other day which set forth his plan which does virtually nothing to ease the credit crisis or the housing crisis. It seems like if the phone were ringing, he would just let it ring and ring and ring."

Clinton was referring to a speech on the economy McCain delivered on Tuesday, in which the Arizona senator suggested a much more limited intervention by the federal government in the housing crisis than the former first lady, who proposed earlier this week a $30 billion fund to help cities and states help their residents who are affected by the crisis. Clinton has also proposed freezing interest rates for five years and stopping foreclosures for 90 days, steps which not only McCain but Barack Obama have argued would be counterproductive, but which Clinton argues it is the kind of aggressive action that is needed.

The event here was the first on a six-day tour Clinton is making across North Carolina, Indiana and Pennsylvania to emphasize economic issues. At her speech at Wake Technical Community College, she proposed additional funding for training for workers who are laid off from their jobs and Pell Grants they can use to pay for additional education for a new position.

But as Michael Abramowitz wrote earlier this month, it's not clear what kind of crisis, economic or otherwise, would cause Clinton or McCain to need an immediate solution at 3 a.m.

"In my experience, I cannot think, off the top of my head, of a snap decision that had to be made in the middle of the night," Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security adviser, had told the Post.

By Web Politics Editor  |  March 27, 2008; 5:35 PM ET
 
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Comments

"...as Michael Abramowitz wrote earlier this month, it's not clear what kind of crisis, economic or otherwise, would cause Clinton...to need an immediate solution at 3 a.m.

'In my experience, I cannot think, off the top of my head, of a snap decision that had to be made in the middle of the night,' Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state and national security adviser, had told the Post."

Not contented with having made herself laughable at home and abroad with her make-believe tales of derring-do in Bosnia, Hillary now extends her talent for making herself look foolish to fantasies of acting as an economic Commander-in-Chief minding a red phone 24/7.

Posted by: FirstMouse | March 28, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Ring Ring.

Hillary: Hello?

The Economy: Hi...Hillary?

Hillary: Yeah?

The Economy: Hi...it's the Economy, sorry, did I wake you?

Hillary: Geez...it's 3 in the morning, can't this wait.

The Economy: I'm afraid not...we need you on this right now. It's.....A CRISIS. (dunh dunh dunh)

And scene.

Posted by: esugaabaya | March 28, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

I retract my last paragraph then.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | March 28, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Ok, I'll bite that it's a "metaphor" and "rhetorical flourish," even though I disagree. But I still feel no sympathy for Clinton on this issue because her 3 a.m. references are based off a fear-mongering, Republican-esque ad that I don't think should have ever been aired. Every time she utters "3 a.m.," the implication is that unless we have Hillary Clinton in the White House to answer the call, bad things will happen to our children. If she wants to live by the 3 a.m. call, she can die by the 3 a.m. call in the press.

Now whether or not that opinion or writing sarcastic comments make me a jerk in your eyes, I'll leave that up to you. But know that I'm not going to start name calling because I disagree with your content or your tone.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | March 28, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I see, I typed "jerk". Sorry, that was directed at Mr Bacon.

Posted by: zukermand | March 28, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

p.s. I'm not a jerk.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan
==========
When, exactly, would an economic crisis happen at 3 in the morning? Did the markets decide to get a jump on the day by opening 5 hours early? Is it a crisis with the Nikkei?

Posted by: ManUnitdFan
============

Don't sell yourself short. Don't you feel a little embarrassment when you go back and read stuff like that? Do you have to jump at every bit of chum these ridiculously unprofessional reporters throw in the water as long as it attacks Sen Clinton?
If your guy is nominated, you better pray they don't decide the other guy is cooler, or your guy will be the subject of their arbitrary "calling him on it" over every offhand comment. You may not be so blase about it then.

Posted by: zukermand | March 28, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

That a president would be so obtuse as to require a 3 a.m. phone call about economic meltdown is truly terrifying.

I find it remarkable that a letter written by Sen. Barack Obama to Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and to Treasury Sec. about the urgency of adressing an impending wave of mortgage foreclosures on March 27, 2007--yes folks, a full year ago!--has received so little media attention (outside of the non-press blogosphere).

Full text of the letter:
******
Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dear Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Paulson,

There is grave concern in low-income communities about a potential coming wave of foreclosures. Because regulators are partly responsible for creating the environment that is leading to rising rates of home foreclosure in the subprime mortgage market,
I urge you immediately to convene a homeownership preservation summit with leading mortgage lenders, investors, loan servicing organizations, consumer advocates, federal regulators and housing-related agencies to assess options for private sector responses to the challenge.

We cannot sit on the sidelines while increasing numbers of American families face the risk of losing their homes. And while neither the government nor the private sector acting alone is capable of quickly balancing the important interests in widespread access to credit and responsible lending, both must act and act quickly.

Working together, the relevant private sector entities and regulators may be best positioned for quick and targeted responses to mitigate the danger. Rampant foreclosures are in nobody's interest, and I believe this is a case where all responsible industry players can share the objective of eliminating deceptive or abusive practices, preserving homeownership, and stabilizing housing markets.

The summit should consider best practice loan marketing, underwriting, and origination practices consistent with the recent (and overdue) regulators' Proposed Statement on Subprime Mortgage Lending. The summit participants should also evaluate options for independent loan counseling, voluntary loan restructuring, limited forbearance, and other possible workout strategies. I would also urge you to facilitate a serious conversation about the following:

* What standards investors should require of lenders, particularly with regard to verification of income and assets and the underwriting of borrowers based on fully indexed and fully amortized rates.

* How to facilitate and encourage appropriate intervention by loan servicing companies at the earliest signs of borrower difficulty.

* How to support independent community-based-organizations to provide counseling and work-out services to prevent foreclosure and preserve homeownership where practical.

* How to provide more effective information disclosure and financial education to ensure that borrowers are treated fairly and that deception is never a source of competitive advantage.

* How to adopt principles of fair competition that promote affordability, transparency, non-discrimination, genuine consumer value, and competitive returns.

* How to ensure adequate liquidity across all mortgage markets without exacerbating consumer and housing market vulnerability.

Of course, the adoption of voluntary industry reforms will not preempt government action to crack down on predatory lending practices, or to style new restrictions on subprime lending or short-term post-purchase interventions in certain cases. My colleagues on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs have held important hearings on mortgage market turmoil and I expect the Committee will develop legislation.

Nevertheless, a consortium of industry-related service providers and public interest advocates may be able to bring quick and efficient relief to millions of at-risk homeowners and neighborhoods, even before Congress has had an opportunity to act. There is an opportunity here to bring different interests together in the best interests of American homeowners and the American economy. Please don't let this opportunity pass us by.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Barack Obama
******

Concerns expressed a full year in advance should inspire far more confidence about a candidate's understanding of the economy than a ringing red phone or a shrug off of any pretext of expertise on economic issues.

Why is this letter receiving so little attention??????

Posted by: profco | March 28, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

You are conflating factual claims with rhetorical flourishes. Mr Bacon is using a time honored method of reporters who wish to undermine a candidate. He is taking an obvious metaphor and pretending it is literal. Why is he doing this? It is unprofessional.

Posted by: zukermand | March 28, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Zukermand:

Actually, Bacon has every right - and every obligation - to question what she says. If you swallow every line that every candidate feeds you and report is as fact, that's not exactly reporting, is it? If John McCain says "Iran is training Al Qaeda," and the press says, "Ok, sounds good," then what's the point of having press at all? If Clinton says the economy is calling at 3 a.m., and that's a scenario that could never happen, the press should call her on it.

p.s. I'm not a jerk.

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | March 28, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"zuckermand...
...Bacon is more than in the right to criticize it.
Posted by: edwlhall
===============

I strongly disagree, and so should you. Mr Bacon is a reporter and should have no role in the approval or criticism of ANYTHING. You appear comfortable with his shirking of responsibility while it's aimed at those you disapprove of. Be careful, you may not always share his opinion. When he's "criticizing" your guy instead of doing his job, perhaps you'll regret approving of his unprofessional work.

Posted by: zukermand | March 28, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

A 3am phone call on the economy as a campaign slogan?

Let's face it, just another terrible idea by the Clinton campaign team. Back to the drawing boards...

Posted by: eljefejesus | March 28, 2008 2:06 AM | Report abuse

I NOW absolutely AGREE that She is a MONSTER.
She just lost my vote in PA.

Posted by: BrownShirtGeorge | March 27, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

SHE SHOW HOW IMMATURE SHE IS THINKING PRESIDENCY IS INSTANT DECISION MAKING AT 3AM.

WHEN WILL SHE KNOW THAT LEADERSHIP MEANS LISTENING!!

OFCOURSE, SHE DOES NOT EVEN BELIEVE THAT LEADER CAN CHANGE COURSE WITH WARNINGS BUT NOT LIE LIE LIE like she is doing on every aspect:
Monica's
Bosnia
NAFTA
Dream-Ticket
Super-Deligates
Pledged-Deligates
IRAQ WAR VOTE
ITALY PEACE.
Falling Back on Wright
Falling back on FL, MI
Not Telling TRUTH to Chelsey about how she let Bill have PLEASURES in front of her.

Infact, Her whole campaign took a U-TURN to "CHANGE" banwagon after seeing Obama's success.

a CLINTON can do ANYTHING (I MEAN "ANYTHING") to get "THIER" property (WHITE HOUSE) BACK.

Posted by: BrownShirtGeorge | March 27, 2008 11:26 PM | Report abuse

oops - sorry for the double post! :)

Posted by: drama_king | March 27, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's "3 a.m." moment is no metaphor - rather, it appears to be an indication that her meds are wearing off and she's slipping into that silly ol' parallel universe again - you know, the one she visits when she gets too "tired" or when she's crossed the 1000000th word threshold for the day, beyond which threshold she is apparently no longer responsible for what comes out of her brazen mouth...

Posted by: drama_king | March 27, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's "3 a.m." moment is no metaphor - rather, it appears to be an indication that her meds are wearing off and she's slipping into that silly ol' parallel universe again - you know, the one she visits when she gets too "tired" or when she's crossed the 1000000th word threshold for the day, beyond which theshold she is apparently no longer responsible for what comes out of her brazen mouth...

Posted by: drama_king | March 27, 2008 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Granted, the 3 am economic call isn't as glitzy or glamorous as the beautiful speech writing/sharing we've experienced from Obama --

But lets face it -- it could become a reality -- whether Kissinger thinks its possible or not -- last I checked nobody had a crystal ball on the economy or we wouldn't be in this mess...

Posted by: IllinoisVoter | March 27, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

In light of the recent Bear Stearns' recovery, no one can think of an economic crisis that needs immediate attention?
Perhaps the speech writer does need to identify a better approach than to spin on the 3 am call -- but lets get serious here... our economy is in freefall every day and the current administration still stands by the categorization of "economic slowdown". Let's get serious, folks and take off the rosy glasses --

Our economy is NOT what it once was 8 years ago before our current administration...Washington decisions to send business for national defense vessels to foreign businesses... outsourcing Passport processing (practically handing American identities out like candy) -- these can turn into economic disasters...

Posted by: IllinoisVoter | March 27, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Honest opinion? It's a lousy metaphor. A metaphor should instantly grab the listener: it should be clear, obvious and clever, and, well, no offense to the Clintons, here, or to their people, but there haven't been a lot of that in their campaign.

Forrest Gump had a really good one: "Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get." There is probably some truth to that, I know, in this instance, that I sure didn't expect to get the kind of stuff that we have been getting from the Clintons' campaign. I had expected, I don't know, something perhaps a bit more "dignified" from a former first lady and certainly from a former President of the USA.

Posted by: marnie_bowen | March 27, 2008 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it must be a metaphor.

Like "ducking our heads in the sniper fire" is a kind of metaphor...

Like "the Michigan primary was a fair election" is a kind of metaphor...

Like "it's still a really close race" is a kind of metaphor...

For Lent this year I'm giving up
on Hillary.

But I'm not calling her a monster. The last person who did that was eaten alive.

Posted by: PaulTinker | March 27, 2008 8:07 PM | Report abuse

zuckermand...

It's a really bad metaphor (more plain than routine).

Bacon is more than in the right to criticize it. Hillary obviously needs some better writers. It seems like the only three phrases the campaign can came up with are "ready on day one", "3am phone call" and "just words" and they're pretty bland as far as catchphrases go... but she appears hellbent to squeeze as much use out of these clunkers as she can.

I mean, 3am phone call from the economy? It's pretty idiotic.

Posted by: edwlhall | March 27, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Do we need an economic commander in chief?


NYET!

Posted by: edbyronadams | March 27, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

It is 3 a.m. and the phone rings with an economic crisis. Hillary can just loan the country come of the money that the Saudis have been sending to Bill for exactly what we will never know. Reach out and touch someone from the Oil country of your choosing and keep the change for the Clinton library.

You could not effectively manage over 100M in your campaign and now you want the whole U.S. budget to look after I don't think so.

Posted by: pedraza1 | March 27, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Ladies and Gentlemen it is without question that Barack Obama will be the Democratic party nominee. He won more votes, more pledged delegates, more states. You cannot simply move the goaI posts any longer just ask Bobby Bowden or Nancy Pelosi. I for one appreciate the tempering Senator Obama has received from Billary's "kitchen sink, Tonya Harding" strategies. Senator Obama will be stronger for having risen above her divisiveness and our candidate will thus be prepared for the Karl Roves and their fear be afraid be very afraid techniques. The Democrats lost the House of Representatives, the Senate and of course the White House. Do we really want more of those results for our country?

John McCain a.k.a. Senator "McWar" cannot create more make believe boogeymen; the American people are now on to that b.s..

I fought in Iraq in the All Americans 82nd Airborne and join the now legions of my comrades opposed to the war which has cost 4000+ of my comrades in arms their lives and maimed another 25,000+. How much does a trillion and counting cost each American family? I ask any citizen who doubts the price of this war to visit the nearest Veterans hospital to them. The one I visit for therapy has a plaque on it that states The price of freedom is clearly evident here. The price for Iraq is way too high for a war which we should not be in. No WMD, No ties to Al Qaeda Etc. Etc. I pray that our country is really prepared to show courage and turn the page away from the dismal George W. cowboy with no guts or sense years and put our great nation on a better path.

Vote Barack Obama America!

Posted by: pedraza1 | March 27, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr Bacon clowns around, pretending to be flummoxed by a perfectly routine metaphorical flourish, which makes him appear a moron right there in front of God and everyone. Which raises the question, why is Perry Bacon going to such extraordinary lengths to undermine Sen Clinton's campaign efforts? Is that an appropriate role for a journalist at a major newspaper?

Posted by: zukermand | March 27, 2008 6:00 PM | Report abuse

It's a metaphor, jerk.

Posted by: zukermand | March 27, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

When, exactly, would an economic crisis happen at 3 in the morning? Did the markets decide to get a jump on the day by opening 5 hours early? Is it a crisis with the Nikkei?

Posted by: ManUnitdFan | March 27, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

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