McCain Probably Wishing for Another 'Lipstick on Pig' Outbreak

Obama Seems to Have Better Approach to Economic Crisis

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(Updated below) Let me first stipulate that, when you look at actual policy positions, neither Barack Obama nor John McCain has an answer to the mess going on on Wall Street at the moment. And neither of them has the guts to even hint at what Michael Bloomberg said this week: "I think you just can't blame the banks. ... They say, 'I want the great American dream. I want it now and I'm not going to wait until I put some money in the bank.' ... That's where we lost the moral compass of saying no to people who did not have the earning capacity to support a mortgage." Then again, Bloomberg isn't running for office and lives in a city that, liberal as it thinks it is, would gladly suspend its laws right now and vote him mayor for life. But the fact is, those garbage mortgages didn't just walk out the bank under their own volition. And it wasn't a lack of government intervention that caused the CEOs on Wall Street to keep pressing their luck.

But we all know that politics has as much to do with image as it does with policy. And right now, John McCain looks like the one floundering all over the place. Sure, he's gotten off a few workman-like 30-second ads. But he's also been quoted as saying the "fundamentals of the economy are strong." Now, as true as that may be on some fundamental level -- even Bloomberg has said this recently -- it's a bone-headed, stupid thing to say. Of course, the Obama campaign jumped all over it. As well it should have (from a purely tactical outlook).

And while Obama may seem to be slow in unleashing ads in response to this, it may be better for him. His style is to stick to the script, whereas McCain can't quite be controlled. In this scenario, McCain provides the Obama team the soundbites it needs while crafting a more considered response. Today, Obama unveiled a two-minute ad (see below) in which he sits down and basically has a chat with voters about the economy. More important, he comes off as talking about the economy they are familiar with -- the "I-just-had-to-put-milk-on-my-credit-card economy" as opposed to the "golden-parachutes-in-Manhattan" economy. "The truth is," Obama says, "that while you've been living up to your responsibilities, Washington has not. That's why we need change."

And while McCain is trying to appropriate the "change" theme, he's proposing what? A panel modeled after the 9/11 Commission to study the issue. Now, not only does that sound like the same old politics, it almost sounds like the same old Democratic politics from back in the early '80s. Let's conduct a study and throw more government money at it. That allowed Obama to come back with this response: "The last thing we need is a commission to study a problem that everyone but John McCain knows is the result of the failed economic policies he has championed for the last 26 years." Ouch.

UPDATE: McCain is trying his hand at talking directly to the people as well with a spot called "Foundation."

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