Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conservative Hysterics

I continue to be amazed at how easily some conservative commentators fall into hysterics and crisis mode.

Rich Lowery wailed on The Corner about Katie Couric's interview with Gov. Palin:

I thought Palin was dreadful. She obviously didn't have the reaction to the Charlie Gibson interview that I had hoped. She had better be better prepared for next week or she risks damaging her political brand forevermore.

First of all, forevermore is a long time.

Second, Gov. Palin is a bright, extremely competent governor. You don't get 80% approval rating in political office for being stupid. And you don't rise without political pull and family/machine connections unless you have amazing ability. Palin also connects with regular folks and excites them (which, no offense, Rich Lowery, George Will and a number of other conservative thinkers don't).

Third, I thought Katie Couric's follow up question on Rick Davis was lame. It's like she didn't understand what "recuse" means. Palin was using the Margaret Thatcher approach of giving the same answer until the reporter understood it. Thatcher is one of Palin's heroes. But, British authoritative reserve is not Palin's strong point.

Palin probably should have explained, "Katie, when you recuse yourself, you separate yourself from the operations and oversight of a company. So, Rick Davis is no more responsible for what happens in the company than you and I are responsible for General Electric's actions because we hold stock through mutual funds in General Electric."

Today on Fox News Sunday Brit Hume, Mara Liasson and Bill Kristol all agreed that Palin will do fine in the upcoming VP debate if she is allowed to be herself--a balanced assessment that escaped Lowery.

Sen. Biden's gaffes have not damaged his brand or his ticket. Sen. Obama's poor performance at Saddleback (and in tons of q & a sessions where every other word seems to be "a" and "um") did not damage his brand. Conservatives play into gotcha politics and MSM values when they blow small mistakes out of proportion.

Then we have George Will who goes ballistic all too often. This time because John McCain wanted SEC chairman Chris Cox fired.

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama.

Channeling his inner Queen of Hearts, John McCain furiously, and apparently without even looking around at facts, said Chris Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, should be decapitated. This childish reflex provoked The Wall Street Journal to editorialize that "McCain untethered" -- disconnected from knowledge and principle -- had made a "false and deeply unfair" attack on Cox that was "unpresidential" and demonstrated that McCain "doesn't understand what's happening on Wall Street any better than Barack Obama does."

As one of the taxpayers who is going to help bankroll hundreds of billions of dollars for the bailout, I would like to see a number of heads roll--congressional, executive and regulatory. Maybe Cox doesn't deserve to be fired, but the onus is on him to prove he was competent. (And I don't feel bad in thinking the Wall Street Journal has some explaining to do about not beating the drum hard and long about the imminence of the second greatest financial crisis in a century. WSJ's protest sounds a little too close to excusing their own lack of competence along with Cox's. But, I'm open to hear their defense as well.)

If it was right to fire FEMA chief Michael Brown for Katrina failures (even though the state and local officials were more at fault), I don't see anything undue about firing top economic officials for a non-"act of God" crisis they should have been warning about.

It's not only the Queen of Hearts who dispensed with people, Abraham Lincoln had to fire various top generals in order to get to a competent one. Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of soldiers Union and Confederate died before the war got the right general. Leadership is about demanding accountability not patting your friends on the back irrespective of performance. And the economic team (congressional, executive and regulatory) has turned in an abysmal performance.

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