Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why is McCain Playing Defense on This Market?

His other forward-leaning arguments aside, McCain has been playing defense on the recent decline in the stock market. His defensive posture, insofar as he doesn't have much of a posture at all on the stock market, can subconsciously be interpreted to mean that he feels a bit guilty about it, and therefore avoids the issue. It's become the millstone around his neck.

This is the wrong tactic for McCain! The argument he should be making is that one contributing reason for the market's decline this year is that the market participants dislike Obama's plans for taxes, spending and regulation. Imagine the political narrative if at least half of Americans had come to believe that this is a reason for the market decline?

The merits of the market causality argument can be debated until the end of time. Obama supporters would disagree that his tax, spending and regulation plans are contributors to the market decline. Free-market people will claim that the argument is basically axiomatic in its logic. The point here, however, is not with the fundamentals of that market causality argument – even though I think it is indeed axiomatic in its logic – but rather one of political tactic. By failing to make the argument, McCain is essentially ceding this election season's most valuable real estate to Obama because of a lack of resistance on this crucial issue. This is probably majority of the reason why McCain fell behind in the polls starting in mid-September.

McCain's failure to blame some part of the stock market decline on the market's fear of an Obama Presidency is an even bigger omission than McCain's failure to rebut Obama's linking him to George Bush: I never once heard McCain rebut Obama on this issue – such as in the TV debates – by reminding people that the only one in this election who has ever run against George Bush is actually John McCain, in the 2000 Republican primary. McCain conspicuously fails to rebut Obama by reminding the American people that he sat across the table from George Bush on live TV and basically called him a scumbag. Nobody else has done this.

At this point, McCain's failure to link Obama as one contributing factor to the market decline, will likely cause McCain to lose this election. That is, unless he starts to make this argument his central one for the last 10 days.