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McCain Proposes Commission to Study Economy

By Michael D. Shear
Sen. John McCain on Tuesday proposed a commission to study the economic crisis along the lines of the one that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a series of rapid-fire appearances on morning news shows, McCain provided few specifics about what the commission should do. But he talked about new regulations for a financial industry that he said has betrayed consumers.

"Everybody's at fault here. The regulatory agencies, who were clearly asleep at the stick," he said on CNBC Tuesday morning.

McCain said repeatedly that his record in the Senate makes him uniquely capable of bringing together a bipartisan group to examine the financial crisis and propose solutions.

A spokesman for Sen. Barack Obama, Tommy Vietor, disagreed, saying that "after nearly three decades in Washington, John McCain's economic record is clear -- he thinks the fundamentals of the economy are strong, he said he is fundamentally a deregulator, and that makes him fundamentally out of touch with the struggles facing everyone from Main Street to Wall Street."

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 16, 2008; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama , John McCain  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Strong Economic Fundamentals? Not in New Obama Ad
Next: McCain Didn't Create BlackBerry, Despite Adviser's Claim


Don't we have a Joint Economic Committee on the hill now? Why should we spend more money to look at an economic problem when we already have a committee that exists for that reason?

Posted by: tired of John's ineptitude | September 16, 2008 9:33 PM | Report abuse

The ghost of Herbert Hoover is alive and well.

Next from McCain: "Prosperity is just around the corner."

If the first thing FDR would have done upon taking office in 1933 was to appoint a commission to study why the economy crashed in 1929, we'd still be out there on street corners selling apples.

Obama has GOT to start telling a punchy, coherent story to the millions of Americans who are scared to death of what's happening to sink the economy.

How about this, for starters: Bush, Cheney, and McCain have been gutting the U.S. industrial economy, which used to provide good, solid jobs that enabled American families to buy their homes and pay for them with good, solid 30-year FHA- and VA- backed mortages. Now, working for insecure, low-pay jobs in an environment of stagnant (or sinking) real wages, and with the Chinese owning maybe a trillion dollars in U.S. debt thanks to Bush fighting a useless war (costing $3 trillion) while slashing taxes on those best able to pay, and shipping ever more manufacturing jobs to China while busting the unions that used to give workers some counterbalancing economic power, Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin are reaping the consequences of entrusting the nation's credit to a bunch of funny-money swindlers who've brought on the current subprime-driven credit crunch. Having gutted the blue-collar economy, ordinary Americans have had no choice but to try to live on their credit cards while taking out their mortages from the snake-oil salesmen at Countrywide.

McCain and Palin of course haven't a clue as to what's gone wrong. Neither did Herbert Hoover.

Posted by: jm917 | September 16, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Whenever there is a tough issue (i.e. Social Security), instead for making tough choices, McCain proposes appointing a commission so he can reserve the alternative of rejecting the tough proposals if they get too much flak. This is not leadership, it certainly is not courage.

Posted by: bgjd1979 | September 16, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Hold your breate folks.

If AIG fails it will dward what has happened so far.

Fred held rates steady today. No rate cut.

Posted by: toritto | September 16, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Now that John McCain has at last turned in his answers to Science Debate 2008 (after peeking at Barack Obama's answers for a couple of weeks) there are some interesting tidbits hidden among his rambling responses.

Take this reply to a question about maintaining America's lead in innovation.

"I am uniquely qualified to lead our nation during this technological revolution. While in the Navy, I depended upon the technologies and information provided by our nation’s scientists and engineers with during each mission" - McCain

Let's stop there for a second. Here John McCain insists he's uniquely qualified to discuss technology because... he used some. Forty years ago. This is the same kind of high standard by which he assured us that Sarah Palin knew more about energy than anyone else in America, and Phil Gramm was one of the smartest people in the world on the economy. At least he didn't claim any MacGyverite tech affinities developed in Hanoi.

Okay, let's continue.

"I am the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The Committee plays a major role in the development of technology policy, specifically any legislation affecting communications services, the Internet, cable television and other technologies. Under my guiding hand, Congress developed a wireless spectrum policy that spurred the rapid rise of mobile phones and Wi-Fi technology that enables Americans to surf the web while sitting at a coffee shop, airport lounge, or public park." - McCain

And, stop. There you have it, people. John McCain not only invented cell phones, he tossed in wifi as an afterthought.

Let's go back and see how McCain's hand guided that development.

With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Senate passed the first major revision to telecommunications law in 62 years which provided the foundation for much of the cell phone and Internet regulation over the next decade. The bill passed 81-18 and was signed into law by President Clinton. McCain voted AGAINST the act.

In 2002, McCain authored the "Consumer Broadband Deregulation Act of 2002" which eliminated the requirement of the 1996 law that telecommunication companies provide access to competitors. It didn't pass.

In 2003, the Internet Tax Freedom Act was passed, putting in place a moratorium on taxes for activities on the Intenet. The bill had 11 cosponsors – McCain wasn't one of them. He did vote for the bill, but since it passed 97-3, that's definitely "guiding" with a small 'g.' Granted, this wasn't directly a bill about wireless, but since McCain doesn't seem to have authored any law on wireless technology, I'm having to search for connections.

Of pending legistlation, McCain is NOT a sponsor of the "Connect the Nation Act" – though Senator Obama IS. McCain is NOT a sponsor of Senator Rockefeller's call for a universal next generation broadband by 2015 – though Senator Obama IS. And of course, McCain ISN'T a sponsor of the "Internet Freedom Act" that would ensure net neutrality – though Senator Obama IS. That last is no surprise. McCain has repeatedly OPPOSED net neutrality, saying that companies have a right to restrict speed or even limit access to sites "when you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment."

So, McCain's "guiding hand" seems to consist of opposing the legislation that laid the groundwork for the communications we have today, and authoring failed legislation designed to benefit big carriers. Of course, we should probably be glad that John McCain really didn't invent the cell phone or wifi, otherwise we'd all be getting our wireless services from one monolithic company free to restrict our access to only the pages that pay for the privilege. And we'd all be using "Jitterbugs."

...and, not only did John McCain invent the cell phone and wifi, he was the first to tie them together in his other invention the Blackberry.

"He did this," Douglas Holtz-Eakin told reporters this morning, holding up his BlackBerry. "Telecommunications of the United States is a premier innovation in the past 15 years, comes right through the Commerce committee so you're looking at the miracle John McCain helped create and that's what he did."

So now we know what McCain has been doing while missing all those votes in the Senate. He's been moonlighting as a Canadian MP -- RIM, the company that makes the Blackberry, is headquartered outside Toronto....CANADA!!!

Posted by: McCain/Palin - Dumber Than A Bag Of Rocks! | September 16, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse


Here are two more just for you:

1. To be politically correct McCain calls it AfricanAmericanBerry.

2. McCain recommends blackberries because they're reach in anti-oxidants.

Thank you! I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waiter.

Posted by: Thor | September 16, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

What happened to all that bluster about "free markets, less government" ? Sounds like another flip for what is turning out to be a big flop!

Posted by: Johann Wagener | September 16, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

There is a crisis and Obama saying that does not make it a crisis, Lehman Bros told you yesterday. Fortunately the Bush administration owned up to its duty not to bail them out. Unfortunately Bush and Bernanke did not see this coming and buried their heads in the ground with Bear Stearns and did a bail out. There are many other financial service companies on the ropes or will be so in coming months. It is up to these companies to get financing and write off their bad debt and have a more honest assessment of their condition. The companies won't do it because they are afraid their customers will be scared away.

Since there is more down side in housing and credit cards and auto loans have yet to be hit but a rising unemployment rate does not auger well for this situation.

This is the reality. Fear mongering is saying a calamity is going to happen because in fact, no one knows. Blaming Obama for speaking the yruth is a political ploy to hide the fact that John McCain and therefore his supporters are clueless on this economy.

One thing that could be done immediately is to create jobs by starting an infrastructure rebuilding program. That would help unemployment and that would in turn enhance debt repayment. Tax rebates would similarly help but there would be no fished product such as bridge repair to show for the money.

The important thing Obama is prepared to deal with this crisis now. McCain is not prepared and is stalling by calling for a commission.

Posted by: Ronnn | September 16, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

There is nothing wrong with being happily stinking rich and utterly detached. Nothing, that is, unless you make criticizing your political opponent as "elitist" and "out of touch" a centerpiece of your campaign. Rick Davis, speaking on behalf of his $100 million man John McCain, earlier this month offered the latest formulation of Barack Obama as an effete, aloof denizen of the upper class:
"Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand 'MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew - Black Forest Berry Honest Tea' and worry about the price of arugula."
Of course, Davis' "arugula war" is just another attempt at misdirection. After all, John McCain's $5 million threshold where "you move from middle class to rich" is just the latest episode of his enduring disconnect from the real lives of the American people.
For starters, McCain in April declared that there had been "great progress economically" during the Bush years. On more than one occasion, he diagnosed Americans' concerns over the dismal U.S. economy as "psychological." (Phil Gramm, McCain's close friend and adviser supposedly excommunicated over his "whiners" remarks, was back with the campaign last week.) McCain, a man who owns eight homes nationwide, in March lectured Americans facing foreclosure that they ought to be "doing what is necessary -- working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets -- to make their payments on time." And when all else fails, McCain told the people of the economically devastated regions in Martin County, Kentucky and Youngstown, Ohio, there's always eBay.

In his defense, McCain's shocking tone-deafness may just be a matter of perspective. When you're as well off as he is, anything below a $5 million income (a figure exceeding that earned on average by the top 0.1% of Americans) seems middle class.

*The $100 Million Man*
Courtesy of his wife Cindy's beer distribution fortune (one her late father apparently chose not to share with her half-sister Kathleen), the McCains are worth well over $100 million. (In the two-page tax summary she eventually released to the public, Cindy McCain reported another $6 million in 2006.) As Salon reported back in 2000, the second Mrs. McCain's millions were essential in launching her husband's political career. Unsurprisingly, the Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti, who four years ago called Theresa Heinz-Kerry a "sugar mommy," has been silent on the topic of Cindy McCain.

*The Joys of (Eight) Home Ownership*
While fellow adulterer John Edwards was pilloried for his mansion, John McCain's eight homes around the country have received little notice or criticism. His properties include a 10 acre lake-side Sedona estate, euphemistically called a "cabin" by the McCain campaign, and a home featured in Architectural Digest. The one featuring "remote control window coverings" was recently put up for sale. Still, their formidable resources did not prevent the McCains from failing to pay taxes on a tony La Jolla, California condo used by Cindy's aged aunt.

*The Anheuser-Busch Windfall*
As it turns out, the beauty of globalization is in the eye of the beholder. While John McCain apparently played a critical role in facilitating DHL's takeover of Airborne (and with it, the looming loss of 8,000 jobs in Wilmington, Ohio), Cindy McCain is set to earn a staggering multi-million dollar pay-day from the acquisition of Anheuser-Busch by the Belgian beverage giant, In Bev. As the Wall Street Journal reported in July, Mrs. McCain runs the third largest Anheuser-Busch distributorship in the nation, and owns between $2.5 and $5 million in the company's stock. Amazingly, while Missouri's politicians of both parties lined up to try to block the sale, John McCain held a fundraiser in the Show Me State even as the In Bev deal was being finalized.

*McCain's $370,000 Personal Tax Break*
Earlier this year, the Center for American Progress analyzed John McCain's tax proposals. The conclusion? McCain's plan is radically more regressive than even that of President Bush, delivering 58% of its benefits to the wealthiest 1% of American taxpayers. McCain's born-again support for the Bush tax cuts has one additional bonus for Mr. Straight Talk: the McCains would save an estimated $373,000 a year.

*Paying Off $225,000 Credit Card Debt - Priceless*
That massive windfall from his own tax plan will come in handy for John McCain. As was reported in June, the McCains were carrying over $225,000 in credit card debt. The American Express card - don't leave your homes without it.

*Charity Begins at Home*
As Harpers documented earlier this year, the McCains are true believers in the old saying that charity begins at home:
Between 2001 and 2006, McCain contributed roughly $950,000 to [their] foundation. That accounted for all of its listed income other than for $100 that came from an anonymous donor. During that same period, the McCain foundation made contributions of roughly $1.6 million. More than $500,000 went to his kids' private schools, most of which was donated when his children were attending those institutions. So McCain apparently received major tax deductions for supporting elite schools attended by his children.
Ironically, the McCain campaign last week blasted Barack Obama for having attended a private school in Hawaii on scholarship. That attack came just weeks after John McCain held an event at his old prep school, Episcopal High, an institution where fees now top $38,000 a year.

*Private Jet Setters*
As the New York Times detailed back in April, John McCain enjoyed the use of his wife's private jet for his campaign, courtesy of election law loopholes he helped craft. Despite the controversy, McCain continued to use Cindy's corporate jet. For her part, Cindy McCain says that even with skyrocketing fuel costs, "in Arizona the only way to get around the state is by small private plane."

*Help on the Homefront*
In these tough economic times, the McCains are able to stretch their household budget. As the AP reported in April, "McCain reported paying $136,572 in wages to household employees in 2007. Aides say the McCains pay for a caretaker for a cabin in Sedona, Ariz., child care for their teenage daughter, and a personal assistant for Cindy McCain."

*Well-Heeled in $520 Shoes*
If clothes make the man, then John McCain has it made. As Huffington Post noted in July, "He has worn a pair of $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes on every recent campaign stop - from a news conference with the Dalai Lama to a supermarket visit in Bethlehem, PA." It is altogether fitting that McCain wore the golden loafers during a golf outing with President George H.W. Bush in which he rode around in cart displaying the sign, "Property of Bush #41. Hands Off."

Posted by: McCain = Bush's third term | September 16, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

>>When McGoo uses the word blackberry it's immediately followed by pie or muffin or something similar>>

Now, that's some funny stuf!

Posted by: Carolinagirl | September 16, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse


Obama/Palin '08!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Will old pal Senator Gramm be on that commission? Maybe with his wife the former SEC commissioner? How about big donor Thain who just sold Merrill? Or adviser Carla Fiorina who almost ran Hewlett-Packard into the ground? Any other cronies, lobbyists, and incompetents in mind John?

Posted by: ohng | September 16, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

A Commission? Why doesn't he just ask Sarah?

Posted by: tom | September 16, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Hoa Binh!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The important thing in a crisis is to be prepared.

McCain has a economic policy that lowers taxes on corporation so that they can invest to create jobs. This crisis in the financial service industry means that corporations financial partners will not be in a position to assist in the investment process and there will be no job creation.

Obama will invest in infrastructure and the job creation will occur.
John McCain unprepared and needing help from a commission.
Obama ready on day one.

Posted by: Ronnn | September 16, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

When McGoo uses the word blackberry it's immediately followed by pie or muffin or something similar

Posted by: thor | September 16, 2008 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"I always suspected that AsperPerson was just a paid troll at the RNC.

Who else would come up with such palaver?

Posted by: Vienna | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM "

Mental illness?

Posted by: tom | September 16, 2008 12:26 PM | Report abuse

One of's calendars has a page on Government. Below a beautiful picture of the U.S. Capitol is the caption:

"If You Think The Problems We Create Are Bad, Just Wait Until You See Our Solutions."

And, there's nothing like a committee to get the process started.

So much for his vaunted "Leadership."

Posted by: Vienna | September 16, 2008 12:20 PM | Report abuse

In Washington, calling for a commission is double speak for doing little or nothing. John McCain should already have an economic plan that deals with the situation post crisis. What we need is action not inaction and it should start by President Bush beginning a program to repair the nations bridges. That would help stimulate the economy and get people to work. The money would come from reducing the troops in Iraq.

Part of the Obama economic plan is an infrastructure renewal project. That plan was formulated before this crisis appeared

One day John McCain says that the economy is sound and the next day he wants to form a commission to analyze the problem.How can you be president when you do not know what is happening? Barack Obama has done his homework and is ready for a crisis, while John McCain just smiles. When John McCain says he does not have knowledge of the economy, what he means is that if there is an economic crisis, he will be paralyzed.

Posted by: Ronnn | September 16, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Those who can, lead.

Those who can't, say let's set up a commission.

Posted by: 2mature2bHornswoggled | September 16, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The McFailin' duo will seek economic guidance the way Bush has, trusting bad advice because a small group of "experts" will agree with the McFailin' duo's unrestrained "free" market ideology. Since McCain admits ignorance, he won't be able to discern bad advice. These "conservatives" stubbornly worship the cash cow of the free market as though all blessings flowed from it. The free market cash cow has become today's answer to the golden calf idol from Exodus. According to them, more deregulation of the free market will solve the problems deregulation created.

This whole economic fiasco of the last eight years was brought to you by University of Chicago Department of Economics, headed by recently departed Milton Friedman, who found the Bush administration ideally cooperative. Friedman's disciples have lain in wait for economic disaters all over the world since the mid-twentieth century so they could conduct Machivalean experiments on the defensless in places like South America, South Africa, the Pacific Rim, the Middle East, Russia, China, and more insidiously the U.S. They find a weak economy, then bring it down completely so they can build an new economy. So far, every experiment has gone badly for the subjects, leaving people like us economically enslaved. This economic Frankenstein experiment is the single most serious threat to our personal freedoms.

Obama/Biden and the Democratic Party will be our best shot at ameliorating this madness.

Posted by: Charles | September 16, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Head of State

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
McCain Invents Fire, The Wheel

From ABC News:

McCain and the BlackBerry

This morning McCain domestic policy adviser Douglas Holz-Eakin was asked what Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., could point to from his work on the Senate Commerce Committee that would prove to the American people that he has experience on technology issues.

"He did this," Holz-Eakin said, holding up his BlackBerry. "Telecommunications in the United States, the premiere innovation in the past 15 years comes right through the Commerce Committee. So you're looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create. And that's what he did."...

Even more remarkably, he did this using only a piece of flint and crude stone tools.

The first message he sent: "Watson. The fundamentals of the economy are strong."

Head of State

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps they could start here:

Head of State

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Parachutes Away!

From ABC News:

Republican ticket mates John McCain and Sarah Palin Monday blasted corporate executives who leave their company with a "golden parachute" and pledged to "stop multimillion dollar payouts" to CEOs, seeming to forget their own top economic adviser Carly Fiorina walked away with $45 million, including a $21.4 million severance package when she was dismissed by Hewlett Packard in 2005.

Head of State

Posted by: Robert Hewson | September 16, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey other Anonymous, could you not just post a quick summary and link to that info?

Between you and aspergirl you waste a lot of space.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

This is so Washington it's pathetic. Everytime they want to look like they're fixing a problem without actually changing anything, they appoint a commission to study it. The commission holds hearings and talks to experts, then issues a report two years later. It gets five minutes of coverage in the press, and its recommendations are roundly ignored as out-of-date due to changed circumstances. 6 months later, they again decide it's a crisis and appoint another commission to study it.

We need action, not a commission.

Posted by: Ross | September 16, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse



WASHINGTON — Senator John McCain arrived late at his Senate office on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. “This is war,” he murmured to his aides. The sound of scrambling fighter planes rattled the windows, sending a tremor of panic through the room.

Erik Jacobs for The New York Times
John McCain said he had consulted Henry A. Kissinger on foreign policy before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Within hours, Mr. McCain, the Vietnam War hero and famed straight talker of the 2000 Republican primary, had taken on a new role: the leading advocate of taking the American retaliation against Al Qaeda far beyond Afghanistan. In a marathon of television and radio appearances, Mr. McCain recited a short list of other countries said to support terrorism, invariably including Iraq, Iran and Syria.

“There is a system out there or network, and that network is going to have to be attacked,” Mr. McCain said the next morning on ABC News. “It isn’t just Afghanistan,” he added, on MSNBC. “I don’t think if you got bin Laden tomorrow that the threat has disappeared,” he said on CBS, pointing toward other countries in the Middle East.

Within a month he made clear his priority. “Very obviously Iraq is the first country,” he declared on CNN. By Jan. 2, Mr. McCain was on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea, yelling to a crowd of sailors and airmen: “Next up, Baghdad!”

Now, as Mr. McCain prepares to accept the Republican presidential nomination, his response to the attacks of Sept. 11 opens a window onto how he might approach the gravest responsibilities of a potential commander in chief. Like many, he immediately recalibrated his assessment of the unseen risks to America’s security. But he also began to suggest that he saw a new “opportunity” to deter other potential foes by punishing not only Al Qaeda but also Iraq.

“Just as Sept. 11 revolutionized our resolve to defeat our enemies, so has it brought into focus the opportunities we now have to secure and expand our freedom,” Mr. McCain told a NATO conference in Munich in early 2002, urging the Europeans to join what he portrayed as an all but certain assault on Saddam Hussein. “A better world is already emerging from the rubble.”

To his admirers, Mr. McCain’s tough response to Sept. 11 is at the heart of his appeal. They argue that he displayed the same decisiveness again last week in his swift calls to penalize Russia for its incursion into Georgia, in part by sending peacekeepers to police its border.

His critics charge that the emotion of Sept. 11 overwhelmed his former cool-eyed caution about deploying American troops without a clear national interest and a well-defined exit, turning him into a tool of the Bush administration in its push for a war to transform the region.

“He has the personality of a fighter pilot: when somebody stings you, you want to strike out,” said retired Gen. John H. Johns, a former friend and supporter of Mr. McCain who turned against him over the Iraq war. “Just like the American people, his reaction was: show me somebody to hit.”

Whether through ideology or instinct, though, Mr. McCain began making his case for invading Iraq to the public more than six months before the White House began to do the same. He drew on principles he learned growing up in a military family and on conclusions he formed as a prisoner in North Vietnam. He also returned to a conviction about “the common identity” of dangerous autocracies as far-flung as Serbia and North Korea that he had developed consulting with hawkish foreign policy thinkers to help sharpen the themes of his 2000 presidential campaign.

While pushing to take on Saddam Hussein, Mr. McCain also made arguments and statements that he may no longer wish to recall. He lauded the war planners he would later criticize, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. (Mr. McCain even volunteered that he would have given the same job to Mr. Cheney.) He urged support for the later-discredited Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi’s opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress, and echoed some of its suspect accusations in the national media. And he advanced misleading assertions not only about Mr. Hussein’s supposed weapons programs but also about his possible ties to international terrorists, Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks.

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Mr. McCain’s supporters note that he became an early critic of the administration’s execution of the occupation, and they credit him with pushing the troop “surge” that helped bring stability. Mr. McCain, though, stands by his support for the war and expresses no regrets about his advocacy.

In written answers to questions, he blamed “Iraq’s opacity under Saddam” for any misleading remarks he made about the peril it posed.

The Sept. 11 attacks “demonstrated the grave threat posed by a hostile regime, possessing weapons of mass destruction, and with reported ties to terrorists,” Mr. McCain wrote in an e-mail message on Friday. Given Mr. Hussein’s history of pursuing illegal weapons and his avowed hostility to the United States, “his regime posed a threat we had to take seriously.” The attacks were still a reminder, Mr. McCain added, of the importance of international action “to prevent outlaw states — like Iran today — from developing weapons of mass destruction.”

Formative Years

Mr. McCain has been debating questions about the use of military force far longer than most. He grew up in a family that had sent a son to every American war since 1776, and international relations were a staple of the McCain family dinner table. Mr. McCain grew up listening to his father, Adm. John S. McCain Jr., deliver lectures on “The Four Ocean Navy and the Soviet Threat,” closing with a slide of an image he considered the ultimate factor in the balance of power: a soldier marching through a rice paddy with a rifle at his shoulder.

“To quote Sherman, war is all hell and we need to fight it out and get it over with and that is when the killing stops,” recalled Joe McCain, Senator McCain’s younger brother.

Vietnam, for Senator McCain, reinforced those lessons. He has often said he blamed the Johnson administration’s pause in bombing for prolonging the war, and he credited President Richard M. Nixon’s renewed attacks with securing his release from a North Vietnamese prison. He has made the principle that the exercise of military power sets the bargaining table for international relations a consistent theme of his career ever since, and in his 2002 memoir he wrote that one of his lifelong convictions was “the imperative that American power never retreat in response to an inferior adversary’s provocation.”

But Mr. McCain also took away from Vietnam a second, restraining lesson: the necessity for broad domestic support for any military action. For years he opposed a string of interventions — in Lebanon, Haiti, Somalia, and, for a time, the Balkans — on the grounds that the public would balk at the loss of life without clear national interests. “The Vietnam thing,” he recently said.

In the late 1990s, however, while he was beginning to consider his 2000 presidential race, he started rebalancing his view of the needs to project American strength and to sustain public support. The 1995 massacre of 5,000 unarmed Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica under NATO’s watch struck at his conscience, he has said, and in addition to America’s strategic national interests — in that case, the future and credibility of NATO — Mr. McCain began to speak more expansively about America’s moral obligations as the only remaining superpower.

His aides say he later described the American air strikes in Bosnia in 1996 and in Kosovo in 1999 as a parable of political leadership: Mr. McCain, Senator Bob Dole and others had rallied Congressional support for the strikes despite widespread public opposition, then watched approval soar after the intervention helped to bring peace.

“Americans elect their leaders to make these kinds of judgments,” Mr. McCain said in the e-mail message.

It was during the Balkan wars that Mr. McCain and his advisers read a 1997 article on the Wall Street Journal editorial page by William Kristol and David Brooks of The Weekly Standard — both now Op-Ed page columnists at The New York Times — promoting the idea of “national greatness” conservatism, defined by a more activist agenda at home and a more muscular role in the world.

“I wouldn’t call it a ‘eureka’ moment, but there was a sense that this is where we are headed and this is what we are trying to articulate and they have already done a lot of the work,” said John Weaver, a former McCain political adviser. “And, quite frankly, from a crass political point of view, we were in the making-friends business. The Weekly Standard represented a part of the primary electorate that we could get.”

Soon Mr. McCain and his aides were consulting regularly with the circle of hawkish foreign policy thinkers sometimes referred to as neoconservatives — including Mr. Kristol, Robert Kagan and Randy Scheunemann, a former aide to Mr. Dole who became a McCain campaign adviser — to develop the senator’s foreign policy ideas and instincts into the broad themes of a presidential campaign. (In his e-mail message, Mr. McCain noted that he had also consulted with friends like Henry A. Kissinger, known for a narrower view of American interests.)

One result was a series of speeches in which Mr. McCain called for “rogue state rollback.” He argued that disparate regional troublemakers, including Iraq, North Korea and Serbia, bore a common stamp: they were all autocracies. And as such, he contended, they were more likely to export terrorism, spread dangerous weapons, or start ethnic conflicts. In an early outline of what would become his initial response to the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. McCain argued that “swift and sure” retribution against any one of the rogue states was an essential deterrent to any of the others. But Mr. McCain’s advisers and aides say his “rogue state” speeches stopped short of the most sweeping international agenda put forth by Mr. Kristol, Mr. Kagan and their allies. Mr. McCain explicitly disavowed direct military action merely to advance American values, foreswearing any “global crusade” of interventions in favor of relying on covert and financial support for internal opposition groups.

As an example, he could point to his 1998 sponsorship of the Iraqi Liberation Act, which sought to direct nearly $100 million to Iraqis who hoped to overthrow Saddam Hussein. The bill, signed by President Bill Clinton, also endorsed the ouster of Mr. Hussein.

Mr. McCain said then that he doubted the United States could muster the political will to use ground troops to remove the Iraqi dictator any time soon. “It was much easier when Saddam Hussein was occupying Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia,” the senator told Fox News in November 1998. “We’d have to convince the American people that it’s worth again the sacrifice of American lives, because that would also be part of the price.”

Hard Calls

Mr. McCain spent the afternoon of Sept. 11 in a young aide’s studio apartment near the Capitol. There was no cable television, nothing but water in the kitchen, and the hallway reminded him of an old boxing gym. Evacuated from his office but stranded by traffic, he could not resist imagining himself at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. “There are not enough Secret Service agents in the world to keep me away from Washington and New York at a time like this,” Mr. McCain told an adviser.

Over the next days and weeks, however, Mr. McCain became almost as visible as he would have been as president. Broadcasters rushed to him as a patriotic icon and reassuring voice, and for weeks he was ubiquitous on the morning news programs, Sunday talk shows, cable news networks, and even late-night comedy shows.

In the spotlight, he pushed rogue state rollback one step further, arguing that the United States should go on the offensive as a warning to any other country that might condone such an attack. “These networks are well-embedded in some of these countries,” Mr. McCain said on Sept. 12, listing Iraq, Iran and Syria as potential targets of United States pressure. “We’re going to have to prove to them that we are very serious, and the price that they will pay will not only be for punishment but also deterrence.”

Although he had campaigned for President Bush during the 2000 general election, he was still largely frozen out of the White House because of animosities left over from the Republican primary. But after Mr. Bush declared he would hold responsible any country condoning terrorism, Mr. McCain called his leadership “magnificent” and his national security team the strongest “that has ever been assembled.” A few weeks later, Larry King of CNN asked whether he would have named Mr. Rumsfeld and Colin L. Powell to a McCain cabinet. “Oh, yes, and Cheney,” Mr. McCain answered, saying he, too, would have offered Mr. Cheney the vice presidency.

Even during the heat of the war in Afghanistan, Mr. McCain kept an eye on Iraq. To Jay Leno in mid-September, Mr. McCain said he believed “some other countries” had assisted Osama bin Laden, going on to suggest Iraq, Syria and Iran as potential suspects. In October 2001, when an Op-Ed page column in The New York Times speculated that Iraq, Russia or some other country might bear responsibility for that month’s anthrax mailings, Mr. McCain interrupted a question about Afghanistan from David Letterman on that night’s “Late Show.” “The second phase is Iraq,” Mr. McCain said, adding, “Some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq.” (The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it came from a federal government laboratory in Maryland.) By October, United States and foreign intelligence agencies had said publicly that they doubted any cooperation between Mr. Hussein and Al Qaeda, noting Al Qaeda’s opposition to such secular nationalists. American intelligence officials soon declared that Mr. Hussein had not supported international terrorism for nearly a decade.

But when the Czech government said that before the attacks, one of the 9/11 hijackers had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence official, Mr. McCain seized the report as something close to a smoking gun. “The evidence is very clear,” he said three days later, in an Oct. 29 television interview. (Intelligence agencies quickly cast doubt on the meeting.)

Frustrated by the dearth of American intelligence about Iraq, Mr. McCain’s aides say, he had long sought to learn as much as he could from Iraqi opposition figures in exile, including Mr. Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress. Over the years, Mr. McCain often urged support for the group, saying it had “significant support, in my view, inside Iraq.”

After Sept. 11, Mr. Chalabi’s group said an Iraqi emissary had once met with Osama bin Laden, and brought forward two Iraqi defectors who described terrorist training camps and biological weapons efforts. At times, Mr. McCain seemed to echo their accusations, citing the “two defectors” in a television interview and attesting to “credible reports of involvement between Iraqi administration officials, Iraqi officials and the terrorists.”

Growing Impatient

But United States intelligence officials had doubts about Mr. Chalabi at the time and have since discredited his group. In 2006, Mr. McCain acknowledged to The New Republic that he had been “too enamored with the I.N.C.” In his e-mail message, though, he said he never relied on the group for information about Iraq’s weapons program.

At a European security conference in February 2002, when the Bush administration still publicly maintained that it had made no decision about moving against Iraq, Mr. McCain described an invasion as all but certain. “A terrorist resides in Baghdad,” he said, adding, “A day of reckoning is approaching.”

Regime change in Iraq in addition to Afghanistan, he argued, would compel other sponsors of terrorism to mend their ways, “accomplishing by example what we would otherwise have to pursue through force of arms.”

Finally, as American troops massed in the Persian Gulf in early 2003, Mr. McCain grew impatient, his aides say, concerned that the White House was failing to act as the hot desert summer neared. Waiting, he warned in a speech in Washington, risked squandering the public and international support aroused by Sept. 11. “Does anyone really believe that the world’s will to contain Saddam won’t eventually collapse as utterly as it did in the 1990s?” Mr. McCain asked.

In retrospect, some of Mr. McCain’s critics now accuse him of looking for a pretext to justify the war. “McCain was hell-bent for leather: ‘Saddam Hussein is a bad guy, we have got to teach him, let’s send a message to the other people in the Middle East,’ ” said Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts.

But Mr. McCain, in his e-mail message, said the reason he had supported the war was the evolving threat from Mr. Hussein.

“I believe voters elect their leaders based on their experience and judgment — their ability to make hard calls, for instance, on matters of war and peace,” he wrote. “It’s important to get them right.”

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Here is what candidate McCain had to say about his rivals Romney and Giuliani on the campaign trail less than a year ago (10/07):
"I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time."

[link to transcript]

Both Romney and Giuliani had considerably more experience at those positions than McCain's selected running mate, of course.

With statements like this, it's hard to take anything he says at his word anymore, including whatever his lobbyist handlers dreamed up today about the economy...

Posted by: jetchs | September 16, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone every read the crap those people post? I like have a back and forth with someone but not just copy and paste stuff that is prepared for them and sent in emails on a daly basis. If you are in the news business you an email every ten minutes. Half is just crap that doesn't even qualify as a half thrth and most just out and out lies.

I always suspected that AsperPerson was just a paid troll at the RNC.

Who else would come up with such palaver?

Posted by: Vienna | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM

Posted by: pop a smoke | September 16, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Here is what candidate McCain had to say about his rivals Romney and Giuliani on the campaign trail less than a year ago (10/07):
"I am prepared. I am prepared. I need no on-the-job training. I wasn't a mayor for a short period of time. I wasn't a governor for a short period of time."

[link to transcript]

Both Romney and Giuliani had considerably more experience at those positions than McCain's selected running mate, of course.

With statements like this, it's hard to take anything he says at his word anymore, including whatever his lobbyist handlers dreamed up today about the economy...

Posted by: McC will stop at nothing... | September 16, 2008 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I always suspected that AsperPerson was just a paid troll at the RNC.

Who else would come up with such palaver?

Posted by: Vienna | September 16, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

There you are aspergirl, we have been missing you.

Did someone wake you up with a message on your McCainberry?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse


A real leader doesn't exaggerate and scream "the sky is falling" and "we're all doomed" when we are in the midst of an unfolding financial crisis where containment of the fallout of bank failures requires limiting the loss of public confidence in the system.

Obama's a damned fool who would rather win an election than help calm public fear to help our economy avoid a panic-driven meltdown of the financial system. All the real leaders were out yesterday making reassuring noises, which were true, by the way. Except Obama. Obama would rather go around hyping the fear and exaggerating the systemic seriousness of the problem. Only Obama was out yesterday shrilling fearful gloom-and-doom statements (that were exaggerations) hoping to capitalize on the Lehman bankruptcy to beat the bushes to drive up an economic-fear vote.

Is there any further proof needed as to whom is a leader and whom is a shrill, self-promoting political animal? McCain was not only saying necessary calming things, but the things he was saying were in fact true. Yesterday afternoon, Bloomberg came out and agreed with McCain's statement that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, and so have others.

Only the media, which has by now sold their souls to the journalism devil to support Obama, would help Obama hype the fear and uncertainty in the middle of a banking crises, the damned to hell fools that they are. The media has sunk below the level of divorce lawyer in being the scumbag, unethical professionals this election year. I hope their efforts to hype economic fear and insecurity to help their shallow, self-serving, narcissistic candidate gets exposed as being both factually incorrect and cynical politics, before Obama's the-sky-is-falling gets out of hand and helps spread any undue panic.

Posted by: AsperGirl | September 16, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse


What is happening to the financial sector is necessary and beneficial. The bloat of the financial sector started during the Clinton years with his sweeping deregulation of the trading & finance markets that make things like the Enron loophole & the investment bank expansion into new business areas possible. The Alan Greenspan print-more-money-to-drive-growth inflationary monetary expansion period also started during the Clinton years. In essence, Clinton abandoned Rob Reich's labor-and-strong-infrastructure approach to building a strong economy & he went with Bob Rubin's use-finance-and-money-supply to inflate the economy via a fat financial sector. Bush inherited & continued these policies, and, moreover, contributed more grossly inflationary & damaging problems by driving the federal deficit to massive, historic levels & completely ignoring the corrupt & greedy excesses & abuses of the financial sector.

The financial sector fed and grew to be a size and proportion of our economy that is totally disproportionate to how large it should be for the economy that supports it. The bloat was in the past fed by the large amount of money we've been sending abroad to buy foreign oil -- massive amounts in the hundreds of billions a year, that was coming back to us in the form of sovereign wealth funds & international hedge funds buying into these mortgage-backed securities and other investment schemes. The massive spending on foreign oil, mostly on credit, has created a huge "liquidity bubble" that fed the financial sector bloat. Well, even though we are still sending money abroad, the international interest in buying our credit-backed derivatives & other investment schemes has evaporated, so the bloated financial sector is so excess & unable to support itself now that parts of it HAVE to fail & have to be culled out.

The bloated (and some would say corrupt & inefficient) financial sector has to shrink. The firms themselves could shrink by de-leveraging their debt, which would have the effect of shrinking themselves -- reversing their growth trends. But these firms, for the half-year since the Bear Sterns bailout and the year since the first warning signs that they were going to topple, have not been doing that. These large investment banks are taking advantage of the low fed interest rates, term auction facility & discount lending windows, to eke out a failing existence, refusing to lend to the regional banks. So, what has to happen now is to stop propping them up, let the ones who can't hang on fail and the strongest ones who still do functional business & contribute to the economy will survive.

When the financial sector is cleared out of the useless, bloated baggage and the bad assets they are hiding and lying about on their balances sheets are marked to market, then the credit markets will open up again. Japan lost a year of economic health because after a hyperinflationary growth period it refused to let some nationally prominent but dysfunctional banks fail.

What is happening in the financial sector is a necessary function of contraction in the financial sector that we need to get on with, for normalcy to return to the housing sector and other parts of the economy that rely on credit.

Posted by: AsperGirl | September 16, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Way to go, John! Let's have a commission to study the mess you helped create. That should take a couple of years. Meanwhile more people lose their jobs, homes, savings. BRILLIANT!

Maybe McCain should study the economy since he's said he doesn't really understand it! LOSER!

Posted by: carolinagirl | September 16, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse



Obama needs to parade his economic team before the cameras and let them spell out a cogent action plan -- specifics, not rhetoric -- outlining how he plans to tackle the economic issue in his first 100 days.

And please -- no more speeches before the flags and a blue backdrop. It's old, already. Get out in the street and roll up your sleeves.

Obama should do that New Jersey tour with Springsteen, as has been suggested a couple of times before in this space. Let the Boss -- a working class hero with a Jesus complex -- show Obama how a billionaire rock star can relate to real people. Tour the shuttered factories, the farms, the oil refineries, the ghettos of Newark and Camden, the shore town bars. Use Jersey as a metaphor for the economic plight of the nation -- it's all there in Jersey.

And Obama gets gobs of press coverage because he's got the Boss by his side in the middle of media-saturated Megalopolis.

As for McCain, he's wise to let Palin be his economic attack dog. She's already distanced the McCain-Palin ticket from the Bush administration on the economy, a very smart strategic move.

The danger is that Palin's inexperience, and the scandals surrounding her, are starting to impact her standing, arguably diminishing her credibility.

McCain also should make a bold statement by removing Phil Gramm from his team, making it clear that while he's a good friend and colleague, his statements about "a nation of whiners" and a "mental recession" have rendered him incapable of earning the public's trust. Continued talk that Gramm would be McCain's treasury secretary hurts McCain's prospects among independents and waivering Democrats.




• State-funded vigilante squads "target" American citizens

What do you know about this, and what are you doing about it?

Posted by: scrivener | September 16, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

This one is choice...

"Adviser says McCain helped create the BlackBerry

Move over, Al Gore. You may lay claim to the Internet, but John McCain helped create the BlackBerry.

At least that's the contention of a top McCain policy adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. Waving his BlackBerry personal digital assistant and citing McCain's work as a senator, he told reporters Tuesday, ''You're looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create.''"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse


The NATIONAL ENQUIRER’S exclusive ongoing investigation of GOP VP Nom Sarah 'Barracuda' Palin’s goes far beyond a mere teen pregnancy crisis this week!

The Enquirer’s team of reporters has combed the Alaskan wilderness to discover the hidden truth about Gov. Palin’s family, which has become a central part of her political identity.

The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively that Sarah's oldest son, Track, was addicted to the power drug OxyContin for nearly the past two years, snorting it, eating it, smoking it and even injecting it. And as Track, 19, heads to Iraq as part of the U.S. armed forces, Sarah and her husband Todd were powerless to stop his wild antics, detailed in the new issue of The ENQUIRER, which goes on sale today.

THE ENQUIRER also has exclusive details about Track's use of other drugs, including cocaine, and his involvement in a notorious local vandalism incident.

“I’ve partied with him (Track) for years,” a source disclosed. “I’ve seen him snort cocaine, snort and smoke OxyContin, drink booze and smoke weed.”

The source also divulged the girls would do anything for Track and he’d use his local celebrity status to manipulate other guys “to get them to steal things he wanted.”

“He finally did what a lot of troubled kids here do,” the source divulged. “You join the military.”

And as Gov. Palin has billed the state of Alaska for various expenses related to her children, as reported by The Washington Post, The ENQUIRER's investigation reveals that she was so incensed by 17-year-old Bristol's pregnancy that she banished her daughter from the house.

Another family friend revealed pre-prego Bristol was as much of a hard partier as Track was.

“Bristol was a huge stoner and drinker. I’ve seen her smoke pot and get drunk and make out with so many guys. All the guys would brag that the just made out with Bristol.”

When Sarah found out the teen was pregnant by high schooler Levi Johnston, she was actually banished from the house. As part of the cover-up, Palin quickly transferred Bristol to another high school and made her move in with Sarah’s sister Heather 25 miles away!

And the ENQUIRER also learned that Levi Johnston, the baby mamma’s future wedded dada, who was glad handed by John McCain at the GOP Convention, isn’t too happy about his impending shotgun nups either.

“Levi got dragged out of the house to go to Minnesota,” Levi’s friend told The ENQUIRER. “Levi realizes he’s stuck being with Bristol because her mom is running for Vice President.”

The friend also confided that both Bristol and Levi “broke up a few times and they definitely messed around with other people.”

Meanwhile, as members of the Palin family’s war viciously over “Trooper-Gate” and claims of Sarah’s extramarital affair have turned the political race into a chaotic arena of threats, denials and vicious attacks by political black ops, The ENQUIRER has discovered shocking new details about the red-hot affair scandal!

For the full story of the secrets Sarah Palin is trying to hide – pick up the new ENQUIRER!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to shock Mr. Mccain but this has been going on for several years. When he was in the senate and running for president was well in the future, where was he on this issue? Was he talking about forming a committee? Where was he last week during the hurricane? I thought these things were more important then politics. Has he visited the area? Mccain doesn't give a sh&t about anything. It is just one political stunt after another, one gimmick after another. He is a fu&king joke.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Yes, let's shunt this off to a committee. That will take of it. That's new leadership and change I believe in based on John McCain's years of experience in the Senate?

Sounds like a old parliamentiarian's tactics to me.

Then again he's probably been too busy screaming "DRILL BABY, DRILL!" with his VP candidate to get too involved in this stuff...I'm breathless just thinking about it...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 16, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Has Obama's rapid response team suddenly found their A game or has McCain simply reverted to the gaffe machine he was last Spring? Because it seems like McCain has been lobbing softballs to the Obama campaign for a few days now. I really don't mind it, but I'm wondering what's going on here and whether there's another shoe waiting to drop.

Posted by: Justin in Chicago | September 16, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

very nice

Posted by: boruch yona loriner | September 16, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

How quickly they forget, Biden has been in the senate since 1973. What has Joe Biden ever done to help our country prosper? Give me a break. WP better keep Biden off the paper, because I will continue to ask; What Would Joe Do? Answer: Same old thing, nothing.

Posted by: Adrian | September 16, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Mcsame,what a laugh!who are you getting
to study the economy? Sarah Palin,and
1st Dude? do they have the answer to
high unemployment or under employment,or
you bringing in supply siders with that bs
how about some tricker downers,that sound
like your guys,Oh I got it,how about some
markist or socialist,no that won't work
they believe in spreading prospersity to the people,bad ideas,maybe we can bring
in some chinese and make borrow more money
from them,and by the time our notes are due
we let our children deal with it. maybe
they China will issue a blockade,of our
ports,because we in over our heads,foreclose on our military bases?
how about we get out of this THESE BS wars
and save the america people Billions of
dollars a year,will your base allow a
redistribution of wealth MCpain or you for that matter I think about asking
kiddie porn rush with his four hundrend
million to give something to the poorest
americans,because he nor you can take it were you are going!

p.s obama father was econmist with s harvard doctorate,me thinks some of that
knowledge is in obama genes.


Posted by: keynes | September 16, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Lord, by the time a commission get seated we will all be bankrupt. Besides all the really smart people are out there in the trenches trying to keep the good ship US from capsizing.

Unfortuniately people who understand politics are the worst ones for understanding bedrock economics. They get caught up in fantastical schemes, like the Laffer Curve, deregulation is the answer for everything, everyone can be rich. McCain truly believes the economy is good as thats what he see;s as a member of the most affluent income group.

Posted by: nclwtk | September 16, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

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