McCain’s Nashville Flatline

John McCain’s newly unveiled idea — a buyout of “bad mortgages” to the tune of $300 million — left a lot of viewers bemused about his ideological shape-shifting, and many on the right positively fuming at what they perceived to be the GOP candidate’s suggestion to nationalize a hefty additional portion of America’s mortgages on top of those bundled into securities that are the target of the $700 billion rescue plan passed last week.

For a sampling of reaction on the right to what he sees as McCain’s betrayal of conservative principles, read Doug Bandow’s blog. assessed the truthfulness of McCain’s statements about having a new idea for a mortgage buyout after the Nashville debate and gave them failing grades:

McCain proposed to write down the amount owed by over-mortgaged homeowners and claimed the idea as his own: “It’s my proposal, it’s not Sen. Obama’s proposal, it’s not President Bush’s proposal.” But the idea isn’t new. Obama had endorsed something similar two weeks earlier, and authority for the treasury secretary to grant such relief was included in the recently passed $700 billion financial rescue package.

Last night, I was struck by how often McCain appropriated Obama’s phrases verbatim at the town hall meeting, all the while trying to demonstrate how unacceptable the Democratic standard-bearer’s positions are—an act of contortionism that just came off as muddled and underscored the intellectual bankruptcy of McCain’s campaign.

On top of that, McCain apparently was unaware of how persuasive he finds the Illinois senator’s ideas.

Alice Chasan served as editor and associate publisher of Shelterforce from 2007 to 2008.


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