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David Harsanyi
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Politicians Flail in the Face of Financial Crisis


Politicians expend a considerable amount of energy trying to prove they are just like you and me. Well, it turns out, they aren't lying. Just as you and I have absolutely no clue what's going on, they don't, either.

And watching these people endeavor to "rescue" us from financial apocalypse only crystallizes, once again, that Washington is the preferred destination of the ethically disabled.

Take John McCain's reaction to the recent financial emergency. It was a progression of platitudinous canards brimming with crowd-pleasing words, such as "greed," "speculators" and other assorted bogeymen.

McCain claimed that he would have fired Christopher Cox, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, because Cox "betrayed the public's trust." The fact that Cox didn't actually break any laws or write any regulations is immaterial when a presidential candidate is stalking a scapegoat.

Then, in a bizarre moment during a "60 Minutes" interview, McCain the maverick reappeared and raised the possibility of tapping New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo to whip Wall Street into shape. "This may sound a little unusual," McCain said. "I think he is somebody who could restore some credibility, lend some bipartisanship to this effort."

Unusual, indeed. It did not go unnoticed by many onlookers that as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, Cuomo was one of the people who supported lending practices that allowed Fannie and Freddie to monopolize the subprime market with risky loans and precious little oversight.

Ready to fire. Ready to hire. Ready to lead?

And Barack Obama? Well, naturally, he blamed the only people who could be behind any swindle in America: Republicans. It was deregulation's fault — even though Fannie and Freddie were in this precarious position because of government manipulation.

Obama also condemned McCain's economic adviser for sponsoring a 1999 bill that removed some restrictions on banks.

Obama failed to mention President Clinton supported the bill, as did Clinton's Treasury secretaries, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers — now both Obama advisers.

Given that laying culpability for everything at George Bush's feet has become somewhat of a national pastime, we can forgive Sen. Chris Dodd, Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, for having "a lot of questions about where was the administration over the last eight years."

In reality, a whole host of folks in both parties had complained about the fundamentals of Fannie and Freddie over the years. But it turns out that Dodd — followed by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Obama — led all senators in accepting Freddie and Fannie campaign contributions from 1988 to 2008. Dodd, for years, opposed any reform.

How, you may ask, could a senator who helped prop up this rotten system have the audacity to point fingers at anyone? Well, that's the beauty of politics. Though Dodd is no smarter than you — any of you — senators have no shame.

So who in Washington has proposed a solution rather than pointing a finger at someone?

President Bush.

His massive socialistic $700 billion bailout will shred any historical misconceptions about his fiscal conservatism. Not only is the proposed bailout scary in its financial scope; it is nearly unprecedented as a power grab.

As of this writing, the future of the bailout is uncertain. Some in Congress have begun asking the right questions.

Now if they only would ask themselves, "Is Washington really the place for me?" we'd be getting somewhere.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of "Nanny State." Visit his Web site at To find out more about David Harsanyi and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




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