Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama Rejects McCain's Obvious Trick

by Norman Markowitz

John McCain wants to cancel this Friday's first presidential debate in order to return to Washington and find a solution to the present fiscal crisis. McCain is willing to invite Obama, and work with Democrats for the good of the country.

What McCain really wants to do is have photo ops with Congressmen and cabinet members, project the image that I am mature, wise and experienced and Obama is young and wet behind the years. Thus the "Maverick"(with apologies to Maury and his ancestor from whom the term comes) will become the inside dopester, power broker to ride off into the sunset and win the election with or without Sarah Palin.

McCain has supported the deregulation over the last three decades that forms the background to the present disaster. McCain's shopworn rhetoric against "corruption" and "greed" should be weighed against his record of supporting and taking funds from bankers, developers, and big businessmen who have profiteered at the expense of the people for decades. McCain is no "populist" although that is the most abused word in American politics, used to describe anyone from any perspective who denounces "greed" and corruption and says that he is for honesty and, as Superman used to say, "truth, justice, and the American way." Real populists wanted to pass anti-trust laws that would bust the trusts, stop the judiciary from issuing injunctions that would be used to hurt farmers and workers. The more radical ones wanted public ownership of the railroads, a credit and currency system in which government would step in to "bail out" poor farmers losing there land and homes, not the banks and creditors who were taking their land and homes from them. McCain is no more a populist then he is a socialist and the Bush-Paulson "bailout" is in its present form a very expensive textbook case of state monopoly capitalism.

There were some comical sidelights to this story. McCain was at Morgan Library and Museum "preparing" for his Friday debate, New York Times reporters Elizabeth Buhmiller and Michael Cooper write, "which, by coincidence, is where J. Pierpont Morgan bailed the country out of the Panic of 1907 by locking the leading bankers of the day in his library and forcing them to come up with a rescue plan."

Unless I earned my Ph.D in U.S. history 38 years ago in vain or the books I have read that I trust are lies, that isn't remotely what happened although there are a few grains of truth. Morgan the leading finance capitalist in the U.S. intervened over and over again between October 19th and November 2nd, 1907, to get bankers to pump money into a crisis ridden banking system. He also met with and worked with Treasury Secretary George Cortelyou, representing the government of his political enemy, President Theodore Roosevelt, who deposited 25 million in treasury funds into endangered banks. Morgan greatest capitalist rival, John D. Rockefeller, himself the head the second leading finance capitalist syndicate in the country, threw in ten million and phoned the Associated Press that he would "pledge" half of his wealth to preserve the banking system.

But as this crisis ended, with the leading syndicates of finance capital and the government both pouring in funds, a new one began almost immediately as a a major Wall Street firm was threatened with collapse if it did not sell as an asset the Tennessee Coal and Iron Coal Iron and Railroad Company. Morgan seized the opportunity to have the United States Steel Company buy Tennessee Coal and Iron, even though that violated all of Theodore Roosevelt's anti-trust principle and commitments, since U.S. Steel controlled 60% of the market. Roosevelt yielded.

For Socialists, the crisis and its resolution showed as nothing else did who had the power in the capitalist system. It also helped to radicalize the none socialist progressive movement in its demands for far reaching regulatory reforms and real anti-trust policies. It also led the representatives of the large capital in Congress, led by Republican Senate leader Nelson Aldrich (coincidentally John D. Rockefeller's son-in-law) to establish a "National Monetary Commission" to study "reform" of the national banking system.

I haven't written this to be pedantic or to stick it to two New York Times reporters for spreading capitalist myths. The Morgan and Rockefeller syndicates and their allies "saved" the unregulated banking system and profited from the crisis mostly with their own money. The Bush administration is proposing to save the "deregulated" system with public money and no real benefit for the people. The 1907 crisis was a textbook case of the anarchic nature of advanced finance capital. The 2008 crisis is a textbook case of the anarchic nature of a more advanced finance capital.

John McCain, who has in the past often invoked the name of Theodore Roosevelt as a role model, has represented from the 1980s on positions of domestic economic and social questions very far to the right of the positions that Theodore Roosevelt represented from the 1880s on.

McCain is trying to withdraw from a debate with an intelligent and able presidential candidate which he will in all probability lose. The policies of his president and party stand behind the crisis. As Representative Barney Frank, the liberal Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts who is representing House Democrats in negotiations on the "bailout" said of McCain's move, "It is the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys." Since Frank has long been an openly Gay man who has faced the insults and abuse of rightwing
Republicans, that comment may have been a joke somewhat over the head of "Honest" John McCain, boning up in the Morgan Library when he really thought that he would be preparing to play John Wayne in his first debate.