The editorial in the forthcoming October issue of The Nation says that while the financial crisis on Wall Street is driving home to American people, the media and the presidential campaign seem not to have registered the extent of the crisis: “When rising and unstable food and gas prices are factored in, a trend driven by speculators in search of the next commodity bubble, it’s clear that the very ability of many Americans to feed, warm and shelter their families is under threat.”

Only in a personality-driven, contentless climate will John McCain be able to pass off his two-faced promises of reform as a populist crusade. Railing against “multimillion-dollar payouts to CEOs,” McCain now promises to bring “regulatory oversight” to Washington and “transparency and accountability to Wall Street.” But his rhetoric is just lipstick on a pig. In March McCain told the Wall Street Journal that he is “always for less regulation,” and in April–perhaps inspired by his longtime economic guru Phil Gramm, who said in July that a nation of “whiners” was in a “mental recession”–McCain described the country’s economic crisis as “psychological.” Now faced with a global financial crisis, McCain proposes a psychological solution–belief in his image as a maverick reformer.

“Puncturing McCain’s newfound Teddy Roosevelt persona will require brutal honesty from Barack Obama and his campaign. In his initial response to this latest economic breakdown, Obama called it “the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression” but then said, “I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems…I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to.” Obama’s statement was gallant but missed the mark. In fact, Senator McCain–along with every Republican and Democrat who pushed financial deregulation–is responsible for today’s economic woes. McCain voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1999, repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which since 1933 had kept a wall between commercial and investment banks. When that wall came tumbling down, and when the Internet bubble burst, the housing frenzy took off, as financiers sought new ways to create paper profits.”

Read the full editorial here.

Peter Fray

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