Wednesday, November 05, 2008
McCain should have opposed the bailout. There was a lot of popular resentment of it; it would have put a mile's distance between McCain and Bush's failures; it would have given McCain a great populist issue to ride; and it would have put Obama in the awkward position of defending Bush to the country. Even though the public wanted to "do something," McCain could easily have screamed "Yea, but not this!" from the rooftops - and people would have listened.From Bryan Caplan's student Brian Blase. Indeed, some are pointing to McCain's decision to suspend his campaign as being the end of his surge in the polls, but what if he had gone to DC not to help broker a deal for Congressional Republicans but to lead the opposition? Had he lead a successful opposition, it would have bolstered him as long as the market did not tank more than it did. Had it passed and the market tanked, he could say "See? I warned you!" But if he opposed, the bill failed, and the Dow was at, say, 5000 on Monday, he would have been probably no worse off than he was yesterday.
The main counter-argument: If McCain had opposed the bailout, it might not have passed - making it much harder to campaign against it. Indeed, Obama might have seen the trap and opposed the bailout, too, making it even harder for McCain to make the bailout his central issue. I wouldn't dismiss these possibilities. But even if they came to pass, an anti-bailout McCain would have had better chances than he does today.
So why didn't he? I think he believed the bailout would work (as I did), and acted sincerely rather than strategically.