McCain/GOP do-nothing policy prescriptions as pure politics

On Sunday, would-be-president John McCain weighed in with a predictable do-nothing solution to the ongoing global financial catastrophe, telling Fox News the U.S. government should “make the hard decision” and let the banks simply fail.

It’s another policy embrace of “Fail” as a philosophy from the at-sea Republican party.

As Harper’s Magazine contributing editor Thomas de Zengotita wrote last month about GOP opposition to the stimulus, this posturing — naked even by Washington terms — is all politics and no policy.

What the Republicans are banking on is this: when elections roll around in 2010, people won’t really understand whatever situation we find ourselves in then, just as we don’t now. If the economy is bad enough for them to claim that Obama has failed (and the chances are it will be), they will point with pride to their own prescient and principled opposition. If things are better, or if things are really good, their voting record will have evolved in the intervening years. No one will remember the stand they took this last week. Plus there’s sure to be many ways to change the subject by then. So they have nothing to lose by opposing Obama on the economy. Or so it seems to them right now.

And so McCain can now play Free-Market Warrior for Fox News fans because there’s no cost. His ideological denseness is the height of cynicism, the latest round in McCain-Palin-style say-anything politics.

Here’s Salon’s Andrew Leonard on the McCain “bank plan”:

Ridiculous. We can argue all day about whether or not we should be nationalizing the likes of Citigroup and Bank of America today, or keep striving to engineer some other solution, a la, “the bad bank.” But to suggest that we do nothing, stand back, and let them go down in flames is simply not a credible strategy. One would have imagined that the global economic disaster caused by letting Lehman Brothers fail would be enough to prove that.

In terms of its deep and myriad interconnections with the global economic system, Citigroup is to Lehman Brothers as a woolly mammoth is to a beagle.

Leonard goes on to speculate that “the only decent explanation for [the] irresponsible comments is that [McCain is] purposefully attempting to spook the markets by raising the possibility of massive bank failures, just to make the Obama administration look bad.”

Now that’s cynical!

Maybe I’m even more cynical, though, because I think Leonard is giving McCain too much credit. I don’t believe McCain-Palin-style Republicans, and McCain in particular, are trying to do anything other than rally the base. It’s just another form of all the sly “Muslim” and “terrorist” associations they threw around during the election campaign.

That there is no McCain plan for the economy except to “make the hard decision” to do nothing and let the banks all fail proves the point.