Friday, September 19, 2008

McCain attacks ally once floated as his possible vp

Attempts to eat his own; winds up putting foot in mouth.

Republican presidential wannabe John McCain, desperate to find his footing on the US economic crisis, chose to attack Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox in a speech in Cedar Rapids, IA, today.

“The primary regulator of Wall Street, the Securities and Exchange Commission, kept in place trading rules that let speculators and hedge funds turn our markets into a casino,” McCain said.

“The chairman of the SEC serves at the appointment of the president and in my view, has betrayed the public's trust. If I were president today, I would fire him.”

McCain has been trying to find a way to distance himself from the Bush-era deregulation that he has consistently supported, and Cox was likely seen as the low hanging fruit—problem is, he’s not low-hanging enough. As ABC News has noted (h/t Sam Stein), “while the president nominates and the Senate confirms the SEC chair, a commissioner of an independent regulatory commission cannot be removed by the president.”

But that’s not the only absurd angle on McCain’s latest attempt to dance away from his record as a supporter of the system that has created the current economic crisis. McCain was part of the Senate that unanimously confirmed Cox in 2005, and the Arizona senator has said little about Cox since. And, as noted today by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), McCain has actually been to the right of Cox on regulatory issues.

How simpatico are Chris Cox and Johnny-Mac? Well, it was only this spring that Cox was considered one of the frontrunners for the Vice Presidential slot on the Republican ticket. Here’s Quin Hillyer writing for the uber-conservative American Spectator:

Chris Cox: The best choice [for VP], bar none. This thoughtful and reform-minded chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission made his name for 16 years as the brainiest and perhaps most principled Reaganite conservative in Congress, as well as one of the best on TV. In a brilliant column two weeks ago at this site, Lisa Fabrizio laid out the full argument in Cox's favor. Other columnists have also written that he would make a good Veep choice, among them Lisa Schiffren of National Review Online, Jack Kelly of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics, and the reviewer for, which is the top-ranked conservative blog in McCain's home state of Arizona. Ditto for an article yesterday in the Financial Times and a column yesterday by John Gizzi of Human Events.

Cox is well thought of by just about every conservative columnist around, and respected by the David Broder institutionalists for his brains, diligence, and decency. He could probably help at least a little in Minnesota, where he grew up, and of course he is a favorite of the Californians he represented in Congress. Of great significance, perhaps, McCain himself was asked two Fridays ago at a bloggers' briefing which states he thought he might be able to move from the Democratic to the Republican column, and his first answer, the one he focused most on, was California. And McCain is sure to appreciate Cox's grit in coming back from a horrendous off-road vehicle accident three decades ago that left him partially paralyzed for a while.

Two days ago, McCain proposed “a 9-11 style commission” to look into the causes of our economic crisis—I believe that was the same day that John Boy boasted that as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, he oversaw every aspect of the US economy (heckuva job, Johnny, btw). Today, the senator says that after he becomes president—in four months—he will fire a regulator he helped confirm (even though he can’t actually fire him and, as is being reported, Cox will likely step down at the end of the Bush Administration, anyway). The economic ship is taking on water and listing heavily, and McCain is still rearranging the deckchairs. Sad enough on its face, but infuriating (and the height of dishonesty, really) when you realize that John McCain was not only one of the builders of this boat, he helped drive it headlong into the iceberg.

(cross-posted on The Seminal)

More economic news and musings today over on capitoilette.

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Blogger DrSpade said...

Yep, Christopher Cox has become the fall guy under the most ludicrous of circumstances.

He's the most active S.E.C. chairman appointed by this administration, so much so that many conservatives worried he'd be too involved.

And now they're attacking him for failing to prevent the current crisis? With what? Measures the same Republicans would never have allowed to be enacted?

2:18 PM  

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