Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Or speak softly and carry a big stick, which is what Teddy Roosevelt said. Or talk softly, but carry a big stick, which is what McCain said last night’s debate, in which misquotes, mistakes, and lies were rampant.

Not that it was a bad debate, by any means.

But, as Wired reports, it’s no wonder everyone’s confused about issues these days if politicians themselves bumble through copious fibs and flawed statements:

Bloggers and micro-bloggers on Twitter spent the evening sifting through the fibs and exaggerations that the presidential candidates put forth during their televised town hall meeting with voters Tuesday evening in Nashville, Tennessee.

Both the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Factcheck.org and National Public Radio’s Vox Politics blog provided updates at a furious rate Tuesday night. NPR solicited the help of the public by asking them to do a little bit of real-time research and tweet their findings using #factcheck.

Both the candidates were caught on items that ranged from slight misquotes to outright mischaracterizations of the other’s position.

Which brings us to the economy. The Fact Check Wire points out the two candidates’ stated reasons for the failure of the US financial system:

McCain: Obama didn’t sign a bill to “reign in” the financial markets. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are who catalyzed the crisis.

Obama: Systemic lack of oversight and deregulation caused the problem.

FactCheck.org Factoid #1: Both candidates speak the truth.

Factoid #2: McCain waited until 2005 to sign a regulation bill. Kind of late, seeing as the housing bubble popped two months later.

While we’re fingerpointing, why not blame everyone? Here’s the list I’ve gathered so far:

1. The Clinton administration, which supported the same deregulation now under scrutiny.

2. Alan Greenspan, who had evidence that the thing was gonna blow in the early 2000s, but failed to act on it.

3. The Bush Administration, whose hands-off approach allowed a monster to grow in Wall Street’s shadows.

4. Henry Paulson, who, as former CEO of Goldman Sachs, only ever had big firms’ interests in mind, and is now pandering to them at the expense of the United States citizen.

5. Aggressive lenders, who tricked unknowing Americans into buying crappy loans.

6. Americans, for being so credit-dependent and ignorant with their money.

7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for implementing the New Deal that laid the groundwork for this whole mess in the first place.

8. Housing speculators, who caused the housing bubble to grow as big and fat as it did.

9. Jimmy Carter (I’m not sure how this one works, but a commenter on this blog yesterday blamed him).

10. Taxes. Taxes messed the whole thing up.

11. The System. It’s The System’s fault, and The System must be brought down.

12. Blame? It’s the beginning of the Apocalypse! This is supposed to happen, and greedy America deserves it, anyway.

OK, folks, I know you have more people and concepts to blame for this thing. Who else can you think of?

  • I know that Alan Greenspan is old. I didn’t realize that he was making Fed policy decisions in the 200s! I guess he and McCain go way back … :)

  • Sandy Weill and Robert Rubin. Two key figures who sought the repeal of the Glass Steagall Act of 1933.

    Both were highly involved in the formation of Citigroup, and of course, profited immensely as former Citigroup executives. Both are reported to have held millions of Citigroup shares that were of course liquidated prior to the financial crisis.

    I would also toss out mortgage brokers (i.e. salesman) who peddled their no-doc loans and low rate ARM loans just so they could make a quick commission.

  • Drea

    Jim, you don’t remember the Great Toga Crisis of the early 200s? Why, Greenspan was just a lad then, but already getting hints of the crisis that was to occur in 1,800 years! Seriously, thanks for pointing out the type–fixed!